HISTORIOGRAPHY: a critical view 1)2)4)5)
"The narration of a series of socially significant events". (A FUENMAYOR and R. FUENMAYOR, 1999, p. 69)
These authors - adscribed to Interpretive Systemology (University of Los Andes, Merida, Venezuela) add"… significant according to certain more or less hidden criteria- among which a pseudo-causal thread is strung (the thread corresponds to the criteria which makes the events significant)".
They explain this disquieting comments as follows: "Historiography assumes that the sequence of events occurs on a culturally fixed stage. Thereby, historiography disregards that the events are what they are in terms of the cultural context that gives them meaning…
"The historical question is not simply: "Which events have led us to the present?" but, "What has been the series of cultural contents (which have made what has happened significant) that have led us to experience reality (including history) in the way we do at present?"
"Our history -ours, as a particular society- is not simply the history of the events in which our forefathers participated, but the history of how we come to appreciate reality and transform it (and both appreciation and transformation- are inseparable) in the manner we do today. It is the history of how we arrived at that cultural context that we now wish to impose on past events".
This is of course why history is rewritten by each generation and also written differently in different places.
However, in such interpretive systemologic terms, this sinks history into irremediable relativism. While this must certainly be taken into account, different insights in systemic terms seem possible, at a meta-level critique and also using systemic models, as for example autopoietic social reproduction, dissipative structuration and emergence, dynamic stability and the like.
As to the marxist view of historical determinism, it could probably be usefully reconsidered in the light of thermodynamics of dissipative structuration.
Two different- but closely interdependent processes became active during the 19 and 20 centuries.
The first one was the ever more massive injection of energy (mainly fossil) in the production process. This trend became first active in England. Later on it propagated to Western Europe, and finally to the whole world (a process still running its full course presently)
The second one, i.e. technological progress, entered in a positive feedback loop with the first one. In fact, most of the present artificial devices are depending on the more or less massive use of energy. They were translated from laboratories to fields and factories only when they become efficiently amplified by a suitable energy source.
The whole process became mirrored in the emergence of a generalized societal structuration, unavoidably needed for practical use. Impressive examples are the material, informative, professional, bureaucratic and legal superstructures that made possible the massive use of the motorcar and the aircraft.
The global sociosphere in the making would have been impossible without the simultaneous (and even previous) development of the technosphere. The way this latter did build up- and specially the capitalistic (and later on the state-controlled) concentration of production tools was a more or less unavoidable consequence of the progressive construction of a close-knitted technosphere.
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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