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Marx’s Poetry of the future:

• Ideologies, values and repressions – properly understood – furnish revealing clues to, rather than successful distractions from, the truth. Nevertheless, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud all desire in some sense a future breaking out of this inauthentic history, however culturally rich it might be in a symbolic or mythical content. A new start which directly accepts our destiny and, as a consequence, estimates the world more justly.
• The later twentieth century rereadings of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud that underpin so much contemporary critical theory strikingly abandon the scientific or philosophical goal but retain the critical process.
• Motivation, after Saussure, has for us the added meaning of denoting, referring to, or representing. See through motivation in this sense and you leave the world behind for a self-sufficient sign system in which words exhibit only their relations with other words.
• History was to be rewritten as signifying people’s interest in consolidating their present state of affairs against radical change.
• Ideology critique produces more ideology.
• Foucault’s archaeology of knowledge revises Nietzsche’s genealogies in which historical systems of knowledge and value exhibit not truth but successive perspectives of interested parties. The claim that the only world that we can know is tailored to our rationality becomes an incontrovertible proposition.


Hamilton. Paul (1996) Historicism, Routledge.

  • History must resign itself to what could have taken place, however improbable this might be.
  • Thucydides successfully ‘imposed the idea that contemporary political history was the only serious history’ because there was supposedly no room in it for the art of fable, myth and unproven anecdote associated with Herodotus.
  • The speeches are given in the language in which as it seems to me, the several speakers would express, on the subjects under consideration, the sentiments, most befitting the occasion. (Thucydides 1972)
  • History no longer looks opposed to fiction, but within history we encounter different genres of writing, in which it is appropriate to tell different genres of writing in which it is appropriate to tell different kinds of story.
  • Herodotus evidence is oral, anecdotal, antiquarian. While Thucydides success in setting a pattern for futures historians meant that few had a good word to say for Herodotus.
  • Momigiliano believes too that historical writing since the 18th century has become, more and more a discourse within which you can find that mixture of geography, ethnography, mythography, sociology…
  • Representations, by Francois Hartog, who concludes that a return to Herodotus is possible because of ‘a shift in the historical field’
  • Both historicizings of Herodotus situate him ideologically.
  • Hertog, consistent with his new historicist setting, has a Foucauldian suspicion that all writing, in one way or another, ends up convincing at the political power that permits it.

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