Understanding across generations

Cohorts sometimes have very different formative experiences. Perhaps this means that they form different ways of taking the world in -- different expectations, different paradigms of how things work, different basic reactions about how to behave. And, in turn, perhaps this makes intergenerational understanding difficult; both younger and older may need to engage in real …

Narrative history

People sometimes imagine that history is narrative, full stop. This is not the case; there certainly are important forms of historical writing that do not take the form of narrative. But let's consider some of the logical features of narrative, since there is no disputing that this is one important variety of historical knowledge. What …

Bad behavior

How do we explain the occurrence of anti-social behavior that we witness in everyday life? For that matter, how do we explain the more common occurrence of good behavior?There are numerous extreme examples of anti-social behavior. But more prosaic examples are more interesting. A passenger on a jet airliner becomes enraged at being denied additional …

Action and its causes

What is an action? And, eventually, what role does action play in history?There is a large philosophical arena that focuses on the first part of this question. And basically, it comes down to "persons intervening intentionally". Persons commit actions. Persons have beliefs, desires, intentions, plans, and goals; they have reasons for what they do; they …

What is "understanding social life"?

There have been two very different approaches to social explanation since the nineteenth century, and they differ most basically over a distinction between "explanation" and "understanding" or "cause" and "meaning". This distinction divides over two ways of understanding a "why" question when it comes to social events. "Why did it happen?" may mean "What caused …

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