History 2

[as an ancient Greek concept]

“In the beginning of Western history the distinction between the mortality of men and the immortality of nature, between man-made things and things which come into being by themselves, was the tacit assumption of historiography.” S.43

“[The beginning of] history as a category of human existence … [lies,] poetically speaking, … in the moment when Ulysses, at the court of the king of the Phaeacians, listened to the story of his own deeds and sufferings, to the story of his life, now a thing outside himself, an ‘object’ for all to see and to hear. What had been sheer occurence now became ‘history’.” S.45

“The concern of greatness, so prominent in Greek poetry and historiography, is based on the most intimate connection between the concepts of nature and history. Their common denominator is immortality … History receives into its rememberance those mortals who through deed and word have proved themselves worthy of nature, and their everlasting fame means that they, despite their mortality, may remain in the company of the things that last forever.” S.48

“The Greek notion of the heroic deed … serves as a kind of yardstick with which to measure one’s own capacities for greatness. … the Greek … did not know any ‘moral’ consideration but only an … unceasing effort always to be the best of all.” S.67

[as a Roman and Christian concept]

“According to Christian teachings, the relationship between life and world is the exact opposite to that in Greek and Latin antiquity: in Christianity neither the world nor the ever-reoccuring cycle of life is immortal, only the single living individual.” S.52

“The only story in which unique and unrepeatable events take place begins with Adam and ends with the birth and death of Christ. Thereafter secular powers rise and fall as in the past and will rise and fall until the world’s end, but … Christians are not supposed to attach particular significance to them. … To the Christian, as to the Roman, the significance of secular events lay in their having the character of examples likely to repeat themselves, so that action could follow certain standardized patterns: … The faithful following of a recognized example.” S.66/67

“The Christian calender imitated the Roman practice of counting time from the year of the foundation of Rome.” S.67

[as a modern concept]

“Our concept of history … owes its existence to the transition period when religious confidence in immortal life had lost its influence upon the secular and the new indifference toward the question of immortality had not yet been born.” S.74

“The modern computation of historical dates, introduced only at the end of the eighteenth century, … takes the birth of Christ as a turning point from which to count time both backward and forward … is presented in the text books as a mere technical improvement. … Hegel inspired an interpretation which sees in the modern time system a truly Christian chronology because the birth of Christ now seems to have become the turning point of world history. Neither of these explanations is satifactory. … [The] … twofold infinity of past and future eliminates all notions of beginning and end, establishing mankind in a potential earthly immortality. … Nothing could be more alien to Christian thought.” S.67/68

“The central concept of Hegelian metaphysics is history. … To think, with Hegel, that truth resides and reveals itself in the time-process itself is characteristic of all modern historical consciousness. … Men now began to read, as Meinecke pointed out, as nobody had ever read before. They ‘read in order to force from history the ultimate truth …'” S.68

“In the modern age history emerged as something it never had been before …, it became a man-made process …, which distinguished history from nature … Industrialization still consisted primarily of … mechanization … and man’s attitude to nature still remained that of a homo faber, to whom nature gives the material out of which the human artifice is erected.” S.58/59

“The problem of politics regained that grave and decisive relevance for the existence of men which it had been lacking since antiquity because it was inconceivable with a strictly Christian understanding of the secular.” S.71 “The modern concept of history proved to be [extremely useful] in giving the secular political realm a meaning which it otherwise seemed to be devoid of.” S.82

“What distinguishes Marx‘s … theory from all others in which that notion of ‘making history’ has found a place is only that he alone realized that if one takes history to be the object of a process of fabrication or making, there must come a moment when this ‘object’ is completed, and that if one imagines that one can ‘make history,’ one cannot escape the consequence that there will be an end to history.” S.79

[as a contemporary non-concept]

“Today the Kantian and Hegelian way of becoming reconciled to reality through understanding the innermost meaning of the entire historical process seems to be quite as much refuted by our experience as the simultaneous attempt of pragmatism and utilitarism to ‘make history’ and impose upon reality the preconceived meaning and law of man.” S.86

“… Today, after we have been treated to one such history-construction after another, to one such formula after another, the question for us is no longer whether this or that particular formula is correct. In all such attempts what is considered to be a meaning is in fact no more that a pattern … Marx was … the first … to mistake a pattern for a meaning, and he certainly could hardly been expected to realize that there was almost no pattern into which the events of the past world would not have fitted as neatly and consistently as they did into his own.” S.80/81

“Were not the old philosophers right, and was it not madness to expect any meaning to arise out of the realm of human affairs?” S.85

“What is really undermining the whole modern notion that meaning is contained in the process as a whole, from which the particular occurence derives its intelligibility, is that not only can we prove this, in the sense of consistent deduction, but we can take almost any hypothesis and act upon it, with a sequence of results in reality which not only make sense but work. This means quite literally that everything is possible not only in the realm of ideas but in the field of reality itself. … I can choose to do whatever I want and some kind of ‘meaning’ will always be the consequence.” S.88

“Today … we are quite capable of starting new natural processes, and that in a sense therefore we ‘make nature,’ to the extend, that is, that we ‘make history.’ … The moment we started natural processes of our own – and splitting the atom is precisely such a man-made natural process – we not only increased our power over nature … but for the first time have taken nature into the human world as such and obliterated the defensive boundaries between natural elements and the human artifice by which all previous civilizations were hedged in.” S.58-60

“The modern age … has led to a situation, where man, wherever he goes, encounters only himself. All the processes of the earth and the universe have revealed themselves either as man-made or as potentially man-made … Neither history nor nature is at all conceivable.” S.89

aus: Hannah Arendt: The Concept of History. Ancient and Modern. In: Dies.: Between past and future. Harmondsworth/New York u.a.: Penguin 1977 (1961), S.41-90.


22/12/2014 (2:07) Schlagworte: EN,Lesebuch ::

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