Title

POSTPOSITIVISM AND THE LOGIC OF THE AVANT-GARDE

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2019

Abstract

© 2019 Wesleyan University The purpose of this article is to explore the conditions under which the postpositivist interest in rewriting or reinterpreting history could operate legitimately from a historical point of view. The first part of the article outlines and explains some of the key thematic elements of historical postpositivism. The second proceeds to investigate how these elements can be configured and related to each other within Arthur Danto's influential account of the development of contemporary art, and especially the avant-garde. The intention is to acquire a sense of the working dynamics of postpositivist thought, so as to better understand its possible implications for the writing of history. In the concluding section an argument is proposed to the effect that, although the postpositivist interest in the rewriting of history can in principle be admitted as entirely legitimate, its legitimacy depends on introducing some substantive constraints on content, in addition to the formal considerations that postpositivist discourse generally tends to favor. It is further suggested that this constraint should take the form of a requirement on historical literacy whose meaning is, finally, elucidated by drawing a contrast with historical common sense.

Publication Name

History and Theory

Volume Number

58

First Page

89

Last Page

111

Issue Number

1

DOI

10.1111/hith.12101

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