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Macrohistory and Macrohistorians [Hardcover]

Johan Galtung , Sohail Inayatullah

Price: £77.97 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

30 Sep 1997
This dazzlingly original collaboration between two international authors focuses on 20 macrohistorians-that is to say, historians who have helped shape our entire way of conceiving ourselves-from Ssu-Ma Ch'ien and Ibn Khaldun to Oswald Spengler and Marx and Piritim Sorokin and Arnold Toynbee. The authors move toward a general theory of grand social change based on the writings of these macrohistorians and provide a comparative view of macrohistory and sociology. The book brings a cross-cultural and transhistorical perspective to the study of social change, analyzing macrohistorians and macrohistory comparatively and synthetically, from the traditional linear-cyclical divide as well as including broader transcendental and feminist approaches. Like a road map par excellence for the study of civilizational change, the book captures the panoramic sweep of history and helps readers learn to appreciate, and henceforth include in the circle of greats, those non-Western thinkers whose work they may until now have neglected.^ L ^L Johan Galtung, Sohail Inayatullah, and the other contributors to ^IMacrohistory and Macrohistorians^R demonstrate that each generation may give new perspectives to ideas that we thought we understood. The book covers the vital perspective out of which the 21st century emerges, and in the cases of Sorokin, Toynbee, and Eisler, deals with theories directly bearing on the potential shape of the next thousand years. It brings a cross-cultural and transhistorical perspective to the study of social change and will be of considerable interest to historians and sociologists as well as students of philosophy, historiography, and political science.

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"Richly eclectic, [this book] is an indispensible addition to the historical, sociological, peace and futures literature. It invites dialogue on our ways of knowing about social change, historical dynamics, and violent and non-violent futures. Drawing on the writings of macro or "big-picture" histories, it offers fascinating insights about various civilizational traditions and theorizing about social change processes. It highlights the limitations of Western-centric claims to correctly know the patternings of history whilst raising the challenge of moving beyond hard deterministic thinking."-Francis P. Hutchenson Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Social Inquiry University of Western Sydney, Australia Author, Educating Beyond Violent Futures

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Macrohistory is the study of the histories of social systems, along separate trajectories, in search of patterns. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book not to ignore 6 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Macrohistory is the study of history itself. While the historian tries to understand events and processes in a chronological order, the macrohistorian stands back and tries to find a pattern in the histories of civilizations. Macrohistory is not a summary of histories; nor is it a vast collection of detailed histories of countries, periods or civilizations. It is an abstraction from such histories. Its focus is on the way civilizational units behave over time. As such, it is a challenging, deeply philosophical and, of course, theory-ridden enterprise. Indeed, for those with a bias for empirical evidence, many of the abstract laws or patterns detected by macrohistorians would not be valid because they refer to the future which, they would reason, need not be conditioned in ways the macrohistorian predicts. And yet, despite these limitations, some of the world's most original minds have turned to macrohistorical theorising. Johan Galtung and Sohail Inayatullah, both well known scholars in many fields, have now brought together twenty important macrohistorians in this book. The selected macrohistorians are as follows: Ssu-Ma Ch'ien (145-190? B.C) Augustine (354-430); Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406); Giambattista Vico (1668-1744); Adam Smith (1723-1790); Hegel (1770-1831); Auguste Comte (1798-1857); Karl Marx (1818-1883); Spencer (1820-1903); Pareto (1848-1923); Weber (1864-1920); Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925); Spengler (1880-1936); Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955); Pitirim Sorokin (1889-1968); Toynbee (1889-1975); Gramsci (1891-1937); P. Rainjan Sarkar (1921-1990) Riane Eisler (b.1931) and James Lovelock. `It is not possible even to give a brief summary of the major theories of these macrohistorians in this review. The book, however, has a section on each comprising a brief biographical account followed by the major theories. The editors' real interest is in the relevance of these theories to the human condition; to the future of human beings. Thus, chapters 3 to 6, half of the book, is about comparison of the grand theories of the macrohistorians and trying to find out what insights they offer in the human condition. The most fascinating aspect of these grand theories is that they offer a pattern of movement through time which, in spatial terms, takes different forms: of a straight line (linear); curves (cyclical); semi-circle (arc) and steps (ascent or progress) etc. For instance, Ssu-Ma Ch'ien, the Chinese thinker, taught that historical change is a cyclical succession of eras in an order of growth and decay. The decay is a consequence of loss of virtue (which we would probably translate as legitimacy). Ibn Khaldun, the philosopher of Tunis, also presents a cyclical theory but one in which asabiya - togetherness, in-group feeling, solidarity, ethnicity - plays a great role. A primitive group, like a Bedouin group, has asabiya and conquers decadent urban groups with less asabiya. Khaldun has contemporary relevance because ethnicity is one of the most important concerns nowadays. Another imporant concern is modernity. At the centre of the notion of modernity is the idea of progress. Hegel, Marx, Comte, Spencer, Weber and Toynbee have all presented theories which contributed to the world view which we associate with modernity. Hegel's idea of the spirit working out 'through a dialectic resolution of theses and antitheses' is central to Marx's view of this process resulting in the establishment of communism. Comte's three stages of history leading to positive knowledge and Spencer's general law of evolution have all contributed to the idea that progress is the destiny of mankind. And, since all these theories were created in Europe, the unexpressed assumption among Western people was that it was their destiny. Spengler was the only major thinker to suggest that each culture has a life cycle and that Western civilization will not progress or dominate forever. While on the subject of cultures it is useful to read Sorokin's typology of cultures. He mentions thirteen types of cultural mentalities of which the Ideational and Sensate are the most important. Western culture, then, is sensate. Weber explains why it may be so. His concept of the rationalisation of world views and social relations leading to disenchantment, explains modernity and its profit-and-loss utilitarianism better than most other theories. Toynbee added to this the idea that elites exploit their own working classes, the working classes of the periphery and nature. This, then, explains the tension at the centre of modernity - it is not sustainable. From this we can go on to our own theories about how elites can create policies which can enable them to sustain their lifestyles longer. In a sense, post-modernists contribute to this ongoing intellectual process. There are, of course, outright rejections of capitalism - to which the thinking of Adam Smith is relevant - of which Sarkar, Raine Eisler and Lovelock are exponents. Sarkar, an Indian philosopher, tells us that historical movement takes place through struggle with the environment, ideas and the attraction of the Great. These struggles take the form of varna, or socio-psychological stages of history. Eisler, a feminist, includes women in her understanding of history. Moreover, she emphasizes the emergence of partnership rather than domination in human relations. Lovelock tells us that the earth, Gaia, is a living ecosystem which tries to accommodate changes so as to enable life to go on. But whether this can go on at unprecedented levels and degrees of change is questionable. The focus of the book is not only the history of ideas but comparison of ideas. Another focus, this time utilitarian rather than purely intellectual, is that of the future. The authors are cautious about speculating on the future. However, their last words can be taken as useful advice:
And yet there is something absolute about trying to remove unnecessary suffering (negative peace), to enhance well-being (positive peace and development) and to make peace and development sustainable. More than the positive advice from macrohistorians, their warnings of what can go wrong should be taken seriously (p.244).
Sohail Inayatullah and Johan Galtung have done us a great service that they have produced a book which summarizes knowledge of some of the most important ideas of the world's greatest thinkers in one volume. If the book is ignored it will be unfortunate for us.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars indispensable .. richly eclectic 4 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Richly eclectic, Macrohistory and Macrohistorians is an indispensable addition to the historical, sociological, peace and futures literature. It invites dialogue on our ways of knowing about social change, historical dynamics and violent and non-violent futures. Drawing on the writings of macro or big-picture histories, it offers fascinating insights about various civilizational traditions and theorizing about social change processes. It highlights the limitations of Western-centric claims to correctly know the patterns of history whilst raising the challenge of moving beyond hard deterministic thinking.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A coherent and rare guide to big picture thinking 6 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Macrohistory and Macrohistorians is a rich exploration of patterns in history through the works of twenty macrohistorians from a variety of cultures and eras. The book is particularly valuable for the way it synthesizes the contributions of each and includes interpretative chapters that explore their significance. This is a coherent and rare guide to big picture thinking and hence essential groundwork to underpin the long view ahead. A magnificent achievement
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic 22 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Remarkable ... The best think of its sort I've ever seen and destined to become the classic reference in history and futures studies.
David Loye, Board of Editors, World Futures.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insights into the future from reconsidered ideas. 9 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Johan Galtung, Sohail Inayatullah, and the other authors of Macrohistory and Macrohistorians demonstrate yet again that each generation may give new perspectives to ideas that we thought we understood. From Ssu-ma Ch'ien and Augustine to Marx, Sorokin, and Sarkar, these authors give us brilliant, 21st-century insights into theories of social and civilizational change. Throughout, the authors maintain views that are both sensitive to the coming future and informed by an understanding of the worldwide unities of humankind. This is a book that belongs in the library of every scholar.
Wendell Bell, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Yale
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