[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
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
-- 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
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National Convention was superseded by the Directory; this is also sometimes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. 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
"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 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. 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 Simon, gaoler of the Dauphin;
Claude-François de Payan;
Denis-Étienne Laurent, municipal officer;
François Hanriot, ex-commander of the garde nationale;
Jean-Baptiste de Lavalette, ex-général de brigade;
Jean-Baptiste Fleuriot-Lescot, mayor of Paris;
Jacques-Louis Frédéric Wouarmé.
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.
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.
3.^ "The French Revolution A History". 2007.
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