Anachronism and History

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Fri Dec 8 09:29:12 MST 2000

On this lack of continuity between historical periods in different areas, what is the
criteria ? A new culture  or people with each new mode of production ?

Is it an anachronism to refer to today's Inca Indians by the same term as referred to
the Incas from the ancient past ?

This seems Boasian cultural relativism applied "diachronically".

Would you say Engels' _The Origin of the Family , Private Property and the State_ is
seriously anachronistic ? Are Marx and Engels anachronistic in their notion of private
property in that they apply it to Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages ( what is the name of
the area in the "Middle Ages") and Europe ?

In _Capital_ , is it an anachronism for Marx to try to claim a continuity or
connection between simple commodity exchange and capital ? Commodities really weren't
the same thing in ancient Greece and in Europe. Marx' s reference to Aristotle
discussing the difference between use-value and exchange-value is an anachronising
illusion, as use-value and exchange-value are not the same things in ancient Greece
and Europe

Charles B.

>>> furuhashi.1 at 12/07/00 06:01PM >>>

I fear that both you & Kelley neglected to read Max Weber's own
"Author's Introduction" to _The Protestant Ethic & the Spirit of
Capitalism_, among other things.  Or you have read it, but it didn't
strike you as _noteworthy_, because you two subscribe to the same
line of thinking as Weber's & believe that the "West" existed _even_
in the days of ancient Athens, the Roman republic & empire, etc.  It
is clear that, in Weber's eyes, there was _already_ the distinction
between the "West" & the "non-West," the "Occident" & the "Orient,"
dating back _even_ to ancient Athens.  This type of casual
assimilation of ancient Athens to the "West" -- with the
_suppression_ of the knowledge of political, economic, & cultural
nexues _prior to_ the origin of capitalism & the rise of the "West"
-- could not have occurred before the rise of the 19th century
revisionist thought, as Martin Bernal, Andre Gunder Frank, etc. argue.

In contrast to Weber, I'm saying that the idea of the "West" and the
ensemble of social relations that make this unit seem "natural &
eternal" are the creations of capitalism.  Therefore, Thucydides,
Aristotle, etc. were not "of the West."

Edward Said doesn't understand how to historicize the "West" either,
so he anachronistically argues that Aeschylus was caught in
"Orientalism."  Impossible.

I'm afraid that you & Kelley don't know what I'm talking about when I
say Said commits the same intellectual error as Weber's, much less
managing to disagree with me.

It's the same type of error as saying that Socrates was "gay."
Anachronism, in a word.


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