By Ernst Breisach
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Additional info for On the Future of History: The Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath
The superior power, status, and affluence of the United States led many to conclude that progress had indeed shown to be an accurate interpretation of the world’s development. That also seemed to confirm the American view of history as progressive universal emancipation in a novus ordo seculorum. Historiographically that view had its expression in the consensus school with its affirmation of a basic unity, stemming from centuries of collective experience and a stable set of shared ideas and habits.
All grand conceptualizations of history must be rejected. cls T1: FCH March 31, 2003 14:49 THE POSTMODERNIST CHALLENGE authoritative truth, which would produce new hegemonies, tyrannies, and oppressions. Historical nexuses beyond a minimal and temporary scope were artificial closures that introduced an illusory permanence (in historical theory, continuity) with subsequent oppressive attempts to enforce their validity. These postmodernists also focused on the second perceived crisis of modernity—the intellectual malaise blamed on an epistemological impasse: modernity’s failure to gain a certainty for knowledge untainted by subjectivity.
That immersion into life happened in the constant awareness of the future, which held the certain annihilation by death. This unique process of identity formation was to keep the human being equidistant from being considered a thing with a predetermined identity and from merely being a vessel of potential rationality. But Koj`eve wished to write history in the Hegelian vein. The (early) Heideggerian view of human historicity derived from the individual’s total immersion in life—one solitary in nature—did not produce human history.