[hist-analytic] Analytic Philosophy of History

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Tue Sep 14 16:37:53 EDT 2010

In a message dated 9/14/2010 8:37:, Baynesr at comcast.net writes in  reply to 

"Indeed, it is the asymmetries of science and history that provoked the  
Hempel/Dray dispute which as far as I can tell had an outcome that favored the 
 historians over the physicists. But that is a long story. By the way, Dray 
in on  Hist-Analytic."
Indeed, and thanks for reminding us.
I once was attracted to Danto's approach in the philosophy of history.  
Analytic to the backbone!
But I agree with Bayne that the dispute with Hempel 'had an outcome that  
favored the historians'. I'm never sure why!
I think the reason may be found in Dilthey -- and von Wright --  and, why 
not, Grice!
For Dilthey, there are sciences of nature (Naturwissenschaften) and  
sciences of the 'spirit' (Geistwissenschaften). In "Explanation and  
Understanding", von Wright attempts a sort of 'analytic' reading of Dilthey. And  the 
same is obvious in some of the writings by Grice on 'intentional'  action.
We have an Anscombe expert here (Bayne, author of the first and best  
detailed, exegetical work on Anscombe) -- and so Bayne is onto something when he  
speaks of retrodiction: 
"I don't think philosophers of history are into predicting the future. If  
anything, it is quite the opposite: retrodiction."
How does this work?
---- It's a sort of intentional explanation, ex post facto. To  use Bayne's 
favourite example:
-- I post below for easy reference the wiki on that. I would suggest that  
an analytic approach to Thermidor is largely available. In the proceeding, 
it's  the reference to an intention (which is forward-looking, by conception) 
but it's  a retrodictive attribution on the part of the historian that 
counts -- the  backward encapuslation of a forward 'end' -- or something.
"The Thermidorian Reaction was a revolt in the French Revolution against  
the excesses of the Reign of Terror. It was triggered by a vote of the 
Committee  of Public Safety to execute Robespierre, Saint-Just and several other 
leading  members of the Terror. This ended the most radical phase of the 
French  Revolution.
The name Thermidorian refers to 9 Thermidor Year II (27 July 1794), the  
date according to the French Revolutionary Calendar when Robespierre and other 
 radical revolutionaries came under concerted attack in the National 
Convention.  Thermidorian Reaction also refers to the remaining period until the 
National  Convention was superseded by the Directory; this is also sometimes 
called the  era of the Thermidorian Convention. Prominent figures of 
Thermidor include Paul  Barras, Jean Lambert Tallien and Joseph Fouché.
"Thermidor represents the final throes of the Reign of Terror. With  
Robespierre the sole remaining strong man of the Revolution (following the  
assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, and the executions of Georges Danton and  
Jacques Hébert), his apparently total grasp on power was, in fact, increasingly  
illusory, especially insofar as he seemed to have support from factions to 
his  right[citation needed]. His only real political power at this time lay in 
the  Jacobin Club, which had extended itself beyond the borders of Paris 
and into the  country as a network of "Popular Societies". His tight personal 
control of the  military and his distrust of military might and of banks, 
along with his  opposition to corrupt individuals in government, made 
Robespierre the subject of  a number of conspiracies. The conspiracies came together 
on 9 Thermidor (27  July) when members of the national bodies of the 
revolutionary government  arrested Robespierre as well as the leaders of the Paris 
city government."
"Not all of the conspiratorial groupings were ideological in motivation;  
many who conspired against Robespierre did so for strong practical and 
personal  reasons, most notably self-preservation. The surviving Dantonists, such 
as  Merlin de Thionville for example, wanted revenge for the death of Danton 
and,  more importantly, to protect their own heads."
"The Left were opposed ta Robespierre on the grounds that he rejected  
atheism and was not sufficiently radical."
"The prime mover, however, for the events of 9 Thermidor (27 July) was a  
Montagnard conspiracy, led by Jean Lambert Tallien and Bourdon de l'Oise, 
which  was gradually coalescing, and was to come to pass at the time when the  
Montagnards had finally swayed the deputies of the Right over to their side. 
 (Robespierre and Saint-Just were, themselves, Montagnards.) Some 
authors[1]  argue that the then leftist Joseph Fouché played a large role in the 
conspiracy.  Fouché was likely to be convicted and executed for treason and 
atheism, since  Robespierre himself was about to denounce him in a speech to the 
Convention,  which would have been delivered the day after the coup d'état 
(28 July).  Dwelling in the shadows, he made great efforts to convince the 
main surviving  leftists and moderates that they were meant to be the next 
victims of  Robespierre's dictatorialship, thus uniting them against 
Robespierre, and by  those means saving his own life."
"On 9 Thermidor (27 July), in the Hall of Liberty in Paris, Saint-Just was  
in the midst of reading a report to the Committee of Public Safety when he 
was  interrupted by Tallien, who impugned Saint-Just and then went on to 
denounce the  tyranny of Robespierre. The attack was taken up by 
Billaud-Varenne, and  Saint-Just's typical eloquence fled him, leaving him subject to a 
withering  verbal assault until Robespierre leapt to the defense of Saint-Just 
and himself.  Cries went up of 'Down with the tyrant! Arrest him!' 
Robespierre then made his  appeal to the deputies of the Right, "Deputies of the 
Right, men of honour, men  of virtue, give me the floor, since the assassins 
will not." However, the Right  was unmoved, and an order was made to arrest 
Robespierre and his  followers."
"Troops from the Commune arrived to liberate the prisoners. The Commune  
troops, under General Coffinhal, then marched against the Convention itself. 
The  Convention responded by ordering troops of its own under Paul François 
Jean  Nicolas, vicomte de Barras to be called out. When the Commune's troops 
heard the  news of this, order began to break down, and Hanriot ordered his 
remaining  troops to withdraw to the Hôtel de Ville. Robespierre and his 
supporters also  gathered at the Hôtel de Ville. The Convention declared them 
to be outlaws,  meaning that upon verification the fugitives could be 
executed within 24 hours  without a trial. As the night went on the Commune forces 
at the Hôtel de Ville  deserted until none of them remained. The Convention 
troops under Barras  approached the Hôtel around 2:00 am on 28 July. As they 
came, Robespierre's  brother Augustin leapt out of a window in an escape 
attempt, broke his legs, and  was arrested. Le Bas committed suicide. Couthon, 
who was paralysed from the  waist down, was found lying at the bottom of a 
staircase. Robespierre was shot  in the face, and his jaw was shattered. 
There are two accounts of how he  received the wound. One states that, 
anticipating his own downfall and wanting  to have the death of a hero, Robespierre 
attempted to kill himself and shattered  his own jaw with a shot.[2] The 
contrary view is that he was shot by one of the  Convention's troops. At the 
time, a gendarme named Charles-André Merda claimed  to have pulled the 
"Saint-Just made no attempt at suicide or concealment. Hanriot tried to  
hide in the Hôtel de Ville's yard, by some sources[who?] after being thrown 
out  a window into a stack of latrine and hay, but the Convention troops 
quickly  discovered him and assaulted him badly, allegedly gouging one of his 
eyes out so  that it hung from its socket."
"Robespierre was declared an outlaw, and condemned without judicial  
process. The following day, 10 Thermidor (28 July 1794), he was executed with 21  
of his closest associates, including:
Adrien-Nicolas Gobeau, ex-substitute of the public prosecutor;
Antoine  Gency;
Antoine Simon, gaoler of the Dauphin;
Augustin  Robespierre;
Charles-Jacques Bougon;
Christophe  Cochefer;
Claude-François de Payan;
Denis-Étienne Laurent, municipal  officer;
Étienne-Nicolas Guérin;
François Hanriot, ex-commander of the  garde nationale;
Jean-Baptiste de Lavalette, ex-général de  brigade;
Jean-Barnabé Dhazard;
Jean-Baptiste Fleuriot-Lescot, mayor of  Paris;
Jean-Claude Bernard;
Jean-Etienne Forestier;
Jacques-Louis  Frédéric Wouarmé.
Jean-Marie Quenet;
Georges  Couthon;
Louis-Antoine-Léon Saint-Just;
Nicolas-Joseph Vivier, judge of  the Revolutionary Tribunal;
René-François Dumas, ex-president of the  Revolutionary Tribunal;

"Certainly, the events of 9 Thermidor were to  prove a watershed in the 
revolutionary process. The Thermidorian regime that  followed was, at the very 
least, less rigid, ending the Reign of Terror and  allowing for more 
individual liberty, especially in areas of religion. At the  same time, its 
economic policies paved the way for rampant inflation.  Ultimately, power devolved 
to the hands of the Directory, an executive of five  men who assumed power 
in France in year III of the French Revolution."
"The Thermidorian regime excluded the remaining Montagnards from power,  
even those who had joined in conspiring against Robespierre and Saint-Just. 
The  White Terror resulted in numerous imprisonments and several hundred 
executions,  almost exclusively of people on the political left[citation needed]. 
These  numbers, while significant, were considerably smaller than those 
associated with  the previous Reign of Terror, which killed thousands, however, 
even in smaller  numbers, said executions were made for revenge against the 
Jacobins and mostly  for political differences, also many of the victims 
were executed without a  trial."
"The Thermidorian Convention continued until 26 October 1795 (4 Brumaire  
Year IV), when the National Convention was succeeded by the French  
"For historians of revolutionary movements, the term Thermidor has come to  
mean the phase in some revolutions when power slips from the hands of the  
original revolutionary leadership and a radical regime is replaced by a more 
 conservative regime, sometimes to the point where the political pendulum 
may  swing back towards something resembling a pre-revolutionary state. Leon 
Trotsky,  in his book The Revolution Betrayed, refers to the rise of Stalin 
and the  accompanying post-revolutionary bureaucracy as the Soviet 
1.^ e.g. Stefan Zweig in Joseph Fouché. Bildnis eines politischen Menschen. 
2.^ Merriman, John(2004). "Thermidor"(2nd ed.). A history of modern  
Europe: from the Renaissance to the present,p 507. W.W. Norton & Company  Ltd. 
ISBN 0-393-92495-5
3.^ "The French Revolution A History". 2007. 
(http://carlyle.classicauthors.net/FrenchRevolution/FrenchRevolution151.html) .  


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