January 8, 2010

History & Historiography

Note: This entry is designed to gather into one place the aphorisms in which Gómez Dávila mentions history and problems of historiography.

Truth is in history, but history is not the truth. (#483)

Values, like the soul, are born in time, but do not belong to it. (#1,025)

Values, like souls for the Christian, are born in history but are immortal. (#1,264)

The soul is not in the body, but rather the body is in the soul.
But it is in the body where we feel the soul.
The absolute is not in history, but rather history is in the absolute.
But it is in history where we discover the absolute. (#1,397)

The soul surpasses the world, whereas the world encompasses humanity.
The insignificance of humanity renders “philosophies of history” ridiculous, whereas the infinite price of each human soul vindicates religion. (#2,279)

History exhibits too many useless corpses for any finality to be attributed to it. (#2,676)

History owes its importance to the values that emerge there, not to the masses of men who are shipwrecked there. (#1,481)

Someone who has been defeated should not console himself with the possible retaliations of history, but with the patent excellence of his cause. (#2,599)

The reactionary does not respect everything history brings, but respects only what it brings. (#947)

In spiritually arid centuries, the only man to realize that the century is dying from thirst is the man who still harnesses an underground spring. (#2,792)

No past is ideal.
But only from the past do ideals arise that are not lymphatic, ideals with blood in their veins. (#2,298)

The reactionary does not aspire to turn back, but rather to change direction.
The past that he admires is not a goal but an exemplification of his dreams. (#2,253)

The reactionary does not yearn for the futile restoration of the past, but for the improbable rupture of the future with this sordid present. (#1,297)

In history it is wise to hope for miracles and absurd to trust in plans. (#1,787)

Why not imagine the possibility, after several centuries of Soviet hegemony, of the conversion of a new Constantine? (#2,950)

Modern man calls walking more quickly in the same direction down the same road “change.”
The world, in the last three hundred years, has not changed except in that sense.
The simple suggestion of a true change scandalizes and terrifies modern man. (#2,954)

To search for the “truth outside of time” is the way to find the “truth of our time.”
Whoever searches for the “truth of his time” finds the clichés of the day. (#1,076)

Either we learn from Greek tragedy how to read human history, or we never learn how to read it. (#1,192)

The spectacle of humanity does not acquire a certain dignity except thanks to the distortion it undergoes in history due to time. (#2,774)

The historian’s didactic function lies in teaching every age that the world did not begin with it. (#2,186)

History is a series of nights and days.
Of short days and long nights. (#1,569)

The “wheel of fortune” is a better analogy for history than the “evolution of humanity.” (#1,702)

History is less the evolution of humanity than the unfolding of facets of human nature. (#1,837)

The notion of determinism has exercised a corrupting and terrorizing influence on the task of philosophy. (#2,770)

If determinism is real, if only that can happen which must happen, error does not exist.
Error supposes that something happened that should not have. (#2,831)

No paradise will arise within the bounds of time.
Because good and evil are not threads braided by history, but fibers of the only thread which sin spun for us. (#1,193)

The history of art is the history of its materials, its techniques, its themes, its social conditions, its psychological motives, or its set of intellectual problems, but never the history of beauty.
A value has no history. (#606)

The history of literary genres admits of sociological explanations.
The history of works of literature does not. (#2,601)

If we are ignorant of an epoch’s art, its history is a colorless narrative. (#2,952)

The aesthetic impossibilities of an age stem not from social factors, but from internal censors. (#2,576)

Nature just died in this century.
Only in the art of past centuries do we discover, to our astonishment, that nature is not a simple physics experiment exploited by diligent organisms. (#1,050)

Until the end of the 18th century, what man added to nature increased its beauty.
Since then, what he adds destroys it. (#2,667)

The fragments of the past that survive embarrass the modern landscape in which they stand out. (#2,915)

The relativity of taste is an excuse adopted by ages that have bad taste. (#2,591)

Men change ideas less than ideas change disguise.
In the discourse of the centuries the same voices are in dialogue. (#1)

Imbecility changes the subject in each age so that it is not recognized. (#1,450)

History inexorably punishes stupidity, but it does not necessarily reward intelligence. (#1,574)

For a cultural continuity to be broken, the destruction of certain institutions is enough, but when the soul softens, the survival of those very same institutions is not enough to prevent it from being broken. (#1,869)

The majority of civilizations have not passed on anything more than a stratum of detritus between two strata of ashes. (#2,647)

It is not because there are ages that have been “surpassed” that no restoration is possible, but because everything is mortal.
The son does not succeed a father who has been surpassed, but a father who has died. (#1,915)

The succession of generations is the vehicle, but not the motor of history. (#616)

The essential mechanism of history is the simple replacement of some individualities by others. (#2,846)

Each new generation criticizes the previous one, only to commit, in analogous circumstances, the opposite error. (#1,429)

Each new generation, in this century, enters shouting that it has something new to do and exits saying that it only has something new to lament. (#2,391)

Every age ends in a masquerade. (#1,887)

In every historical situation there always arises somebody to defend in the name of liberty, humanity, or justice, the stupid opinion. (#2,307)

Justice has been one of the motors of history, because it is the name envy assumes in the mouth of the son contesting his parents' will. (#1,100)

Revolutions are not the locomotives but the derailments of history. (#1,171)

Between the causes of a revolution and its realization in actions ideologies insert themselves which end up determining the course and even the nature of events.
“Ideas” do not “cause” revolutions, but channel them. (#2,748)

Even though history does not have laws, the course of a revolution is easily foreseen, because stupidity and madness do have laws. (#2,222)

Revolutions are more a subject for sociology than for history.
Manifestations of those depths of human nature that nothing educates, nothing civilizes, nothing ennobles, revolutions despoil man of his history and return him to bestial behaviors. (#2,243)

Revolution is a permanent historical possibility.
Revolution does not have causes, but occasions it takes advantage of. (#2,221)

The war in the Vendée is the only political conflict that arouses my complete sympathy without troubling my reason. (Bastille Day)

Every episode of a revolution needs a partisan to relate it and an adversary to explain it. (#2,058)

An historical period is the period of time during which a certain definition of the legitimate prevails.
Revolution is the transition from one definition to another. (#901)

New ideas occasion disturbances in history; new sensibilities change its course. (#1,648)

Man does not have the same density in every age. (#2,729)

Let us try to define the conditions and the causes of the spiritual history of an age, but let us be careful not to attribute to them the least participation in the truths which that age discovered. (#2,242)

Only the distortions of a political idea caused by the circumstances in which it acts are recorded in history. (#2,430)

Let us investigate where and when a new mentality is born, but let us resign ourselves to not knowing why. (#1,259)

The habitual factors of history are not enough to explain the apparition of new collective mentalities.
It is advisable to introduce into history the mysterious notion of mutation. (#2,606)

The philosopher is not the spokesman of his age, but an angel imprisoned in time. (#45)

Philosophers tend to be more influential because of what they seem to have said rather than because of what they really said. (#2,626)

Let us avoid prophecies, if we do not want to have to hold a grudge against history. (#2,322)

The biblical prophet is not an augur of the future, but a witness to the presence of God in history. (#517)

History would be reduced to an inventory of types if each one of its typical instances did not inhere in a person. (#886)

The individual is nothing but one of the multiple individualities of history. (#1,178)

The historical importance of a man rarely corresponds to his intimate nature.
History is full of victorious morons. (#56)

All that is most excellent in history is a result of singularly unstable equilibriums.
Nothing endures for sure, but the mediocre lasts longer. (#2,789)

When the dust raised by the great events of modern history settles, the mediocrity of the protagonists leaves the historian dumbfounded. (#2,299)

To be an historian requires a rare talent.
To make history all that is needed is a little shamelessness. (#1,030)

History buries, without solving, the problems it raises. (#58)

True problems do not have a solution but a history. (#807)

No problem exists which can be understood outside its historical context, nor which can be completely reduced to it. (#2,078)

The historian tends to forget that in every era man has no problems except those he believes he has. (#1,040)

In every age a minority lives today’s problems and a majority yesterday’s. (#537)

The leftist is so worried about the problems of the 19th century that he does not worry about the problems of the 20th century.
The problems raised by the industrialization of society prevent him from seeing the problems raised by industrialized society. (#600)

In order to cure the patient it injured in the 19th century, industrial society had to numb his mind in the 20th century.
Spiritual misery is the price of industrial prosperity. (#1,636)

The increasing disintegration of the person can be measured by comparing the expression “amorous adventure,” which was in style in the 18th century, with the expression “sexual experience,” which is used in the 20th century. (#840)

Sensuality is a cultural legacy of the ancient world.
Societies where the Greco-Roman legacy is being wiped out, or where it does not exist, only know sentimentalism and sexuality. (#1,865)

The 19th century did not live with more anguish because of its sexual repression than the 20th century with its sexual liberation.
Identical obsession, even when the symptoms are the opposite. (#1,101)

From the 18th century 20th-century man seems to have inherited only his dryness of soul, and from the 19th century only his rhetoric. (#2,104)

The curve of man’s knowledge of himself ascends until the 17th century, declines gradually afterwards, in this century it finally plummets. (#2,468)

Doctrinaire individualism is dangerous not because it produces individuals, but because it suppresses them.
The product of the doctrinaire individualism of the 19th century is the mass man of the 20th century. (#705)

The enemies of the modern world, in the 19th century, could trust in the future.
In this century there only remains bare nostalgia for the past. (#614)

In the last century they could fear that modern ideas would be right.
Today we see that they were only going to win. (#1,556)

Humanity fell into modern history like an animal into a trap. (#1,576)

Recent generations move among the ruins of Western culture like a caravan of Japanese tourists among the ruins of Palmyra. (#1,722)

Hatred of the past is an unequivocal sign that a society is becoming more plebeian. (#1,480)

To call obsolete what merely ceased to be intelligible is a vulgar error. (#1,893)

Posterity is not going to understand what an achievement mere good sense is in this insane century. (#1,114)

Intelligence is the only art that can survive in any historical climate. (#2,372)

Intelligence, in certain ages, must dedicate itself merely to restoring definitions. (#1,676)

The key event of this century is the demographic explosion of idiotic ideas. (#1,115)

Modern history is the dialogue between two men: one who believes in God, another who believes he is a god. (#1,386)

To proclaim Christianity the “cradle of the modern world” is a grave accusation or a grave calumny. (#1,792)

The modern world resulted from the confluence of three independent causal series: the demographic expansion, democratic propaganda, the industrial revolution. (#2,960)

Modern history, ultimately, comes down to the defeat of the bourgeoisie and the victory of bourgeois ideas. (#981)

The bourgeoisie, in the feudal framework, settles in small urban centers where it becomes structured and civilized.
With the break-up of this framework, the bourgeoisie spreads across all of society, invents the nationalist state, rationalist technology, anonymous urban agglomerations, industrial society, the mass man, and finally the process in which society wavers between the despotism of the mob and the despotism of the expert. (#2,181)

The universalism of the plastic medieval languages took shape as regional variations, whereas the local varieties of the current cosmopolitan art are mere solecisms of pronunciation. (#1,579)

Europe, properly speaking, consists of those countries educated by feudalism. (#660)

When he is stripped of the Christian tunic and the classical toga, there is nothing left of the European but a pale-skinned barbarian. (#2,571)

For more than a millennium, the period of European history lasted during which social salvation was possible.
And was achieved several times.
But in democratic, or imperial, times we can only save souls.
And not always that. (#857)

History exhibits two types of anarchy: that which emanates from a plurality of forces and that which derives from a plurality of weaknesses. (#2,477)

Order paralyzes. Disorder convulses.
Inscribing an instituted disorder within an all-inclusive order was the miracle of feudalism. (#1,591)

In medieval society, society is the state; in the bourgeois society, state and society confront each other; in the Communist society, the state is society. (#62)

A vocabulary of ten words is enough for a Marxist to explain history. (#374)

Class struggles are episodes.
The fabric of history is the conflict between equals. (#1,518)

The contemporary reader smiles when the medieval chronicler speaks of “Roman paladins,” but he remains serious when the Marxist discusses the “Greek bourgeoisie” or “American feudalism.” (#1,056)

The circus factions were not political parties; today’s political parties are circus factions. (#2,043)

What the leftist historian considers central to an age has never been the subject of works that have been admired by posterity. (#1,848)

The leftist writer never writes a history, but rather illustrates an outline with examples. (#2,244)

Compared to the sophisticated structure of every historical fact, Marxism’s generalizations possess a touching naiveté. (#2,957)

Two beings inspire particular pity today: the bourgeois politician whom history patiently silences, and the Marxist philosopher whom history patiently refutes. (#401)

Chance will always rule history, because it is not possible to organize the state in such a way that it does not matter who rules. (#63)

What does it matter that the historian says what men do if he does not know how to relate what they feel? (#91)

Verisimilitude is the temptation into which the amateur historian most easily falls. (#2,585)

Countries with an impoverished literature have an insipid history. (#2,417)

To reconstruct the genealogy of a system, we must at last learn to quantify necessity and the anecdote. (#2,210)

Without the influence of what the fool calls rhetoric, history would have been nothing more than a sordid tumult. (#1,913)

Without literary talent the historian inevitably falsifies history. (#2,677)

The historian deals with history like an artist painting a portrait.
The sociologist like a policeman adding to his file. (#895)

There is no social science so exact that the historian does not need to correct and adapt it to be able to use it. (#2,764)

Without a previous career as an historian, no one should be allowed to specialize in the social sciences. (#2,649)

A great historian is not so much one who notices defects in what he admires as one who acknowledges virtues in what he detests. (#911)

The historian’s task consists less in explaining what happened than in making understood how the contemporary understood what happened to him. (#765)

The historian does not establish himself in the past with the intention of better understanding the present.
What we were is not pertinent to his inquiry into what we are.
What we are is not pertinent to his investigation of what we were.
The past is not the historian’s apparent goal, but his real goal. (#839)

The historian should show us that the past was, at the same time, trivial like every present, and fascinating like every past. (#924)

We presume we can explain history, and yet we fail before the mystery of the person we know best. (#1,197)

An event arouses passion less when its protagonists are interesting than when its observers are intelligent. (#1,489)

When the intellectual climate where something occurs is lacking in originality, the occurrence only has interest for those whom it concerns physically. (#2,593)

History is what is reconstructed by an imagination capable of thinking the consciousness of others.
The rest is politics. (#824)

History relates what happened from above a certain level, but history happens below, in the common, the mediocre, the idiotic, the demented. (#2,193)

Authentic history is the transfiguration of the raw event by intelligence and imagination. (#1,921)

What the mob calls history is a florilegium of erroneous interpretations compiled by the passion of the day. (#1,492)

Such is the complexity of historical events that every theory finds cases to which it can be applied. (#1,169)

Grand theories of history become useful when they give up trying to explain everything. (#2,762)

To distinguish is the mandate of history. (#2,196)

History shows not the inefficacy of actions but the futility of intentions. (#94)

History, if we follow it with the eyes of a partisan, rather than observe it with mere curiosity, makes us swing foolishly back and forth between nostalgia and anger. (#1,015)

Progress is the offspring of knowledge of nature.
Faith in progress is the offspring of ignorance of history. (#1,214)

To criticize a present in the name of a past can be futile, but to have criticized it in the name of a future can turn out to be risible when that future arrives. (#2,663)

Falsifying the past is how the left has sought to elaborate the future. (#2,750)

Democrats describe a past that never existed and predict a future that is never realized. (#1,499)

To know an historical episode well consists in not observing it through democratic prejudices. (#2,727)

Our contemporaries denigrate the past so that they do not commit suicide out of shame and nostalgia. (#1,305)

Those who live in the twilight of history imagine that the day is being born when night is approaching. (#1,659)

The future impassions those who believe in the efficacy of the will, whereas the past fascinates those who recognize the impotence of human endeavors.
What man aims for is always boring, but what he attains sometimes astonishes us. (#624)

Destructions and reconstructions, in history, have known authors.
Constructions are anonymous. (#668)

Let us bow our heads when the historian demonstrates that a certain thing happened, but let us be content to smile when he asserts that it was bound to happen. (#554)

The true historian’s greatest delight is the spectacle of a thesis colliding with a fact and shattering into a thousand pieces. (#1,608)

Political blunders repeat themselves, because they are the expression of human nature.
Successes do not repeat themselves, because they are the gift of history. (#1,323)

History clearly demonstrates that governing is a task that exceeds man’s ability. (#2,862)

History charges a high price for the destruction of one if its rare successes. (#2,540)

History shows that man’s good ideas are accidental and his mistakes methodical. (#2,437)

None of the high points of history has been planned.
The reformer can only be credited with errors. (#2,897)

History might only come from insignificant actions. (#547)

The prejudices of other ages are incomprehensible to us when our own blind us. (#115)

The more fundamentally he shares the prejudices of his time, the easier it is for the historian to believe he possesses objective criteria by which to judge history.
Fashion is the only absolute which nobody disputes. (#966)

What is obvious to one age seems like an enigma to another age, and what is an enigma to one seems obvious to another.
In never-ending cycles. (#1,632)

What an age acclaims tends to be more incomprehensible than what it does not comprehend. (#1,655)

An epoch is not its ideas, nor its events, but its elusive accent. (#2,106)

The predominance of the social sciences hides more and more from contemporary historiography the difference between ages. (#2,455)

Everything in history begins before where we think it begins, and ends after where we think it ends. (#2,757)

There is no coincidence in history that does not submit to the coincidence of the circumstances. (#2,769)

Determining what is the cause and what is the effect tends to be an insoluble problem in history. (#2,767)

History is a picture book rather than a repertoire of notions. (#2,177)

The individual believes in the “meaning of history” when the foreseeable future appears favorable to his passions. (#542)

“Historical necessity” is usually just a name for human stupidity. (#2,773)

Denying that a “human nature” exists is the ideological trick the optimist employs to defend himself against history. (#1,124)

Mankind believes that it corrects its mistakes by repeating them. (#117)

It is not only between generations where experience is lost, but also between periods of an individual life. (#386)

The novel adds to history its third dimension. (#147)

An American historian cannot write history without lamenting that providence did not consult him beforehand. (#159)

Without the spread of oriental cults and without the Germanic invasions, Hellenistic civilization would have initiated, with Rome as its starting-point, the Americanization of the world. (#2,321)

It is not rare to find French historians for whom the history of the world is an episode in the history of France. (#697)

It is not the origin of religions, or their cause, which requires explanation, but rather the cause and origin of their eclipse and neglect. (#160)

Periods of political stability are periods of religious stability. (#2,565)

Historical events stop being interesting the more accustomed their participants become to judging everything in purely secular categories.
Without the intervention of gods everything becomes boring. (#2,953)

Other ages may have been as vulgar as ours, but none had the extraordinary sounding board, the inexorable amplifier, of modern industry. (#170)

History allows for understanding, but it does not require absolution. (#2,503)

The stage of history has become stifling.
From the unlimited prehistoric spaces we have arrived at the possible ubiquity of the most trivial event. (#1,764)

Fear is the secret engine of this century’s endeavors. (#410)

Modern man destroys more when he constructs than when he destroys. (#493)

This century is turning out to be an interesting spectacle not for what it does, but for what it undoes. (#798)

The historian of religions should learn that the gods do not resemble the forces of nature, but rather the forces of nature resemble the gods. (#243)

History seems to come down to two alternating periods: a sudden religious experience that propagates a new human type, [and] the slow process of dismantling that type. (#2,594)

The history of Christianity reveals to the Christian what kind of presence Christ wanted to have in history.
To seek to erase that history, to return to the lone Christ of the gospels, is not a gesture of devotion but of pride. (#936)

The history of Christianity would be suspiciously human, if it were not the adventure of an incarnate god.
Christianity assumes the misery of history, as Christ assumes the misery of man. (#1,840)

The evolution of Christian dogma is less evident than the evolution of Christian theology.
We Catholics with little theology believe, in the end, the same thing as the first slave who converted in Ephesus or Corinth. (#2,446)

The Christian knows that Christianity will limp until the end of the world. (#2,203)

That the history of the Church contains sinister chapters and idiotic chapters is obvious, but a manly Catholicism should not make its contrite confession by exalting the modern world. (#2,442)

For the man who believes in Providence the notion of providence explains nothing, since he believes that everything depends on it. (#2,281)

When reason takes flight to escape history, it is not in the absolute where it alights, but in the fashion of the day. (#938)

History erects and topples, incessantly, the statues of different virtues on top of the unmoving pedestal of the same vices. (#276)

The economic interpretation of history is the beginning of wisdom.
But only its beginning. (#284)

The economic cause produces “something,” but only the historical juncture decides “what.” (#2,845)

Literary genres are born and decline as mysteriously as empires. (#2,165)

A nation’s soul is born from an historical event, matures by accepting its destiny, and dies when it admires itself and imitates itself. (#309)

The people that awakes, first shouts, then gets drunk, pillages, [and] murders, and later goes back to sleep. (#2,951)

Certain traumas to a people’s soul appear to be the only acquired trait that is inherited. (#2,508)

“To die” and “to disappear” are not synonyms when speaking of a nation. (#1,215)

Nations have two noble modes of existence—ascent or decadence—and one vulgar mode—prosperity. (#1,170)

Let us not speak badly of nationalism.
Without the virulence of nationalism, Europe and the world would already be ruled by a technical, rational, uniform empire.
Let us give credit to nationalism for two centuries, at least, of spiritual spontaneity, of free expression of the national soul, of rich historical diversity.
Nationalism was the last spasm of the individual before the gray death awaiting it. (#482)

National histories have all finally flowed into a degenerate occidentalism. (#2,024)

Even when patriotic historians become angry, the history of many countries is completely lacking in interest. (#2,864)

National histories are interesting until the country “modernizes.”
After that statistics are enough. (#1,987)

A nation does not “demystify” its past without impoverishing its present substance. (#2,301)

Universal history is the story of lost opportunities. (#1,210)

The authentic aristocracy is a popular dream betrayed by historical aristocracies. (#1,674)

The irruption of non-European history into the Western tradition is an episode in the intellectual life of the 19th century.
The participants in the Western tradition are not necessary heirs of non-Western history and can only inherit it by respecting the intellectual conditions of its entry into the patrimony of the West.
In other words, there can be Sinologists in the West, for instance, but no Taoists. (#1,143)

To attribute an axial position in history to the West would be extravagant, if the rest of the world copied only its technology, if any form which is invented today, in whatever area, did not always appear to be invented by a Westerner without talent. (#1,874)

When one is confronted by diverse “cultures,” there are two symmetrically erroneous attitudes: to admit only one cultural standard, and to grant all standards the same rank.
Neither the overweening imperialism of the European historian of yesterday, nor the shameful relativism of the European historian of today. (#2,673)

Modern man no longer dares to preach that the individual is born as a blank slate.
Too many mishaps have taught him that we are the oppressed heirs of our family, our race, our blood.
Blood is not an innocent liquid, but the viscous paste of history. (#997)

The history of these Latin American republics should be written without disdain but with irony. (#620)

The history of neither a people nor an individual is intelligible to us if we do not acknowledge that the individual’s or the people’s soul can die without the people or the individual dying. (#434)

Societies in agony struggle against history with the power of their laws, like the shipwrecked struggle against the waters with the power of their screams. Brief whirlpools. (#331)

The history of man is not the catalog of his situations, but the account of his unpredictable ways of using them. (#397)

So unforeseeable are the consequences of his actions that man finally ends up being a mere spectator of the history he makes. (#2,182)

Every event assumes its form as the result of all the forces acting where the event takes place.
Everything descends indirectly from everything. (#2,198)

Such is the complexity of every historical event that we can always fear that from a good an evil might be born and always hope that from an evil a good might be born. (#2,188)

Even when it is unforeseeable an event is explicable, but even when it is explicable it is unforeseeable. (#2,248)

Nobody is ignorant of the fact that historical events are made up of four factors: necessity, coincidence, spontaneity, freedom.
Nevertheless, it is rare to find a historiographical school that does not seek to reduce them to a single factor. (#2,772)

The historian who speaks of cause, and not of causes, should be fired immediately. (#2,844)

History is indeed the history of freedom—not of an essence “Freedom,” but of free human acts and their unforeseeable consequences. (#2,970)

Man’s freedom does not free him from necessity.
But twists it into unforeseeable consequences. (#2,781)

The diversity of history is the effect of always equal causes acting on always diverse individualities. (#2,816)

The nature of the effect, in history, depends on the nature of the individual on which the cause acts. (#2,817)

In history, understanding the individual and understanding the general condition each other reciprocally. (#2,763)

The historian has three themes: the individuality of persons, the individuality of concrete totalities, the individuality of the instant. (#1,183)

The irreplaceability of the individual is the teaching of Christianity and the postulate of historiography. (#1,206)

By overcoming the notion of cyclical history, Christianity did not discover the meaning of history; it merely emphasized the irreplaceable importance of the irreplaceable individual. (#2,075)

Individuals interest the modern historian less than their circumstances.
A reflection of the current confusion: the way of life matters more than the quality of the one who lives. (#593)

A just society would be lacking in interest.
The discrepancy between the individual and the position he occupies is what makes history interesting. (#598)

No period is a transition period.
Every age is an absolute that devours itself. (#602)

The historian’s greatest sin lies in viewing any age whatsoever as only an anticipation, preparation, or cause of another. (#809)

Each moment has its own law, and not just the law which binds it to all other moments. (#523)

Every strict classification of an historical event distorts it. (#2,638)

History is irreversible.
But it is not unrepeatable. (#1,546)

History does not have laws that allow for predictions; but it does have contexts that allow for explanations, and tendencies that allow for presentiments. (#1,682)

The most ironic thing about history is that foreseeing is so difficult and having foreseen so obvious. (#2,721)

The alleged “laws of sociology” are more or less extensively documented historical facts. (#2,018)

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