Sunday, November 23, 2014

History and Justification: Forgetting When We Were Much Less Canonical

I have been reading about early Jewish history (David, Ezra, Nehemiah). What has interested me, here and in early Christian history, was how what we see now was once much less clear and canonical. Of course, this is a very limited viewpoint, since we are giving our attention to what at one time was rather inconsequential but in retrospect now is quite important.

My point here is that when we talk about projects, plans, and policies, and give them concreteness, that makes sense in terms of how they come to be articulated and canonized. However, if we are interested how things can be changed, we need to look at the more inchoate moments, the failures along the way, the transformations of the original ideas into orthodoxies.

Physicists are rarely so historical, for example. There is the currently correct theory. But it may be useful to have a sense of previous accounts or ways of thinking. I am not sure of this, but what comes to mind is Maxwell's fluidic electromagnetism, something we have more or less erased (since there is not ether).

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