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FERNAND BRAUDEL

(In History
Translated by Sarah Matthews

ity of Chicago Press


History and the
Social Sciences
The Longue Duree

There is a ge neral crisis in the hu man sciences : they are all o verwhelmed
by th eir own progress, if only becau se of th e accum ulation of new
knowledge and th e need to work together in a way which is yet to be
properly organized. Directl y or indirectly, willing ly or unwillin gly, none
of them can remain unaffected by th e progress o f th e more act ive among
them. But they remain in th e grip of an in sidi ous and re trograde
humanism no longer capable of providing th em with a valid fra mework
for their studies. With varying degrees of clear-sigh ted ness, all th e sci-
ences are preoccupied with their own position in the whole monstrous
agglomeration of past and present res earches, researches wh ose neces-
sary convergence ca n now clearly be see n.
Will the human sciences solve these difficulties by an extra effort at
definition or by an increase in ill temper? They cer tainly see m to think
so, for (at th e risk of going over some very well trodden grou nd and of
raising a few red herrings), today th ey are engaged more busily than
'ever in defining their aims, their methods, and th eir su periorities . You
. can see them vying with each other, skir mishing along th e frontiers
separating them , or not separa ting th em, or barely se parating them
from their neighbors. For each of th em , in fact, persists in a d ream of
staying in , or returning to, its home. A few isolated scholar s hav e
managed to bring th ings together: Claude Levi-Strau ss I has pushed
"structu ral" anth ro po logy toward th e proc edures of lin guistics, th e hori-
zons of "u nco nscious" history, and the you thfu l imperialism of "qua lita-
tive" mathematics. He leans toward a scien ce which would unite , under
the title of communications science, anthropology, political eco no my,
linguistics .. . But is th ere in fact anyone who is prepared to cross th e
frontiers like thi s, and to realign things in thi s way? Given hal f a cha nce,
geography would even like to split off from hi sto ry!
Bu t we must not be unfair. These squ abbl es and denials have a cer tain
significance. The wish to affirm one's own existence in the face of others
is necessarily the basis for new kn owled ge: to deny someone is alread y to
know him. Moreover, withou t ex plicitly wishing it, th e social sciences
force themselves on each other, eac h tr yin g to cap tu re society as a who le,
in its "totality." Each science encro aches on its neighbors, all the while
Annales E.S.C., no. 4 (October-December 1958), Debars et com bats, pp . 725-53.
26 History and th e Other Human Scien ces 27 H istory and th e Social Scien ces

believing it is staying in its own domain. Economics finds sociology clos- thropologists), sociologi sts, psych ologists, lin gui sts, de mograp hers,
ing in on it, history-perhaps the least structured of all the human geographers, even social mathematicians or sta tisticians-all neighbors
sciences-is open to all the lessons learned by its many neighbors, and is of ours whose experiments and whose researches we have been follow-
then at pains to reflect them back again. So, despite all the reluctance, 'ing for these many years because it seemed to us (and seems so still) that
opposition, and blissful ignorance, the beginnings of a "common mar- we would thus see history itself in a new light. And perhaps we in our
ket" are being sketched out. This would be well worth a trial during the turn have something to offer them. From the recent experiments and
coming years, even if each science might later be better off readopting, efforts of history, an increasingly clear idea ha s emerged-whether con-
for a while, some more strictly personal approach. sciously or not, whether excepted or not--of th e multiplicity of time , and
But the crucial thing now is to get together in the first place. In the of the exceptional value of the long time span. It is this last idea whi ch
United States this coming together has taken the form of collective re- even more than history itself-histor y of a hundred as pects-shou ld
search on the cultures of different areas of the modern world, "area engage the attention and interest of ou r neighbors, the social sciences.
studies" being, above all, the study by a team of social scientists of those
political Leviathans of our time: China, India, Russia, Latin America, the
History and Time Spans
United States. Understanding them is a question of life and death! But at
the same time as sharing techniques and knowledge, it is essential that .All historical work is concerned with breaking down time past , choosing
each of the participants should not remain buried in his private research, among its chronological realities according to more or less conscious
as deaf and blind as before to what the others are saying, writing, or preferences and exclusions. Traditional history, with its concern for th e
thinking! Equally, it is essential that this gathering of the social sciences short time span, for the individual and the event, ha s long accu stomed us
should make no omissions, that they should all be there , that the older to the headlong, dramatic, breathless rush of its narrative.
ones should not be neglected in favor of the younger ones that seem to The ne w economic and social history puts cyclical movem ent in th e
promise so much, even if they do not alwa ys ?e1iver it. ~or ~nstance , t~e forefront of its re search and is committed to th at time span : it has been
position allotted to geography in these American exerC1se~ IS almost 011, captivat ed by th e mirage and th e realit y of the cyclical rise and fall of
and that allowed to history extremely meager. Not to mention the sort of prices. So today, side by sid e with tr adition al narrative histor y, there is an
history it is! . . . account of conjunctures which lays ope n large sections of th e past, ten ,
The other social sciences are fairly ill informed as to the CrISIS which a
twenty, fiftyyearsa t stretch read y for for exa mination.
our discipline has gone through in the past twenty or thirty years , and Far beyond thi s second accou n t we find a history ca pable of travers ing
they tend to misunderstand not only the work of historians, bu.t also that even greater distances, a history to be measu red in cen turies thi s tim e :
aspect of social reality for which history h as always been a faithful ser- the history of the long, even of the very long time spa n , of th e longue
vant, if not alwa ys a good salesman: social time, the multifarious, con- durie. This is a phra se which I hav e become accus tomed to for good or
tradictory times of the life of men, which not only make up the. past: but ill, in ord er to distinguish th e opposite of what Francois Simi and , no t
also the social life of the present. Yet history , or rather the dialectic of lon g afte r Paul Lacombe , christe ned "l'histoire evenemen tielle," th e histor y
duration as it arises in the exercise of our profession, from our repeated of events. The phrases matter little ; what matters is th e fact th at our
observations, is important in the coming debate among all the human discussion will move bet ween th ese two poles o f tim e, the instant an d th e
scienc.es. For nothing is more important, nothing comes closer to the longu e duree.
crux of social reality than this living, intimate, infinitely repeated oppo- Not that these words are absolutely reliable. T ake th e wor d event: fo r
sition between the instant of time and that time which flows only slowly. myself I would limit it, and imprison it within the short tim e span : an
Whether it is a question of the past or of the present, a clear awareness of event is explosive, a "nouvelle sonnante" ("a matter of moment") as th ey
this plurality of social time is indispensable to the communal methodol- said in the sixteenth century. Its delusive smok e fills th e minds of its
ogy of the human sciences. . . . . contemporaries, but it does not last, and its flam e ca n scarce ly eve r be
So I propose to deal at length with history , and with time 10 history. discerned.
Less for the sake of present readers of this journal, ~ho are ~lready Doubtless philosophers would tell us th at to treat th e word thus is to
specialists in our field, than for that of th ose who work 10 th~ neighbor- empty it of a great part of its meaning. An eve n t can if necessar y take o n
ing human sciences: economists, ethnographers, ethnologists (or an- a whole range of me anings and associatio ns. It can occasiona lly bear
28 History and the Other Human Sciences 29 History and the Social Sciences

witness to very profound movements, and by making play, factitiously or ments, one ~fter another,just as they offer themselves to us , in o r d e r to
not, with those "causes" and "effects" so dear to the hearts of the histo- see t~e cham of facts and eve nts reconstitute themselves almost au-
rians of yore, it can appropriate a time far greater than its own time to~~tlcally,be.fore o.~r eyes." Toward the e nd of th e nineteenth ce ntu ry,
span. Infinitely extensible, it becomes wedded , either freely or not, to a ~hIS Id~al of history In the r aw ," led to a new style of chronicle, which in
whole chain of even ts, of underlying realities which are then, it seems, Its desire for exactitude followed the history of events step by step as it
impossible to separate. It was by adding things together like this that em~rged from .a m bassad orial letters or parliamentary debates. The his-
Benedetto Croce could claim that within any event all history, all of man t?nans of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries h ad been atten-
is embodied , to be rediscovered at will. Though this, of course, is on trve to the perspectives o f the longu e duree in a way in whi ch, afterwards,
condition of adding to that fragment wh atever it did not at first sight only a few great spirits-Michelet, Ranke, Jacob Burckhardt, Fustel-
appear to contain, which in turn entails knowing what is appropriate---or were able to re capture. If one accepts that thi s going be yond the short
not appropriate-to add. It is the clever and perilous process which span has been the most precious, because the most rare, of historio-
so me of Jean-Paul Sartre's recent thinking seems to propose." graphical achievements during the past hundred yea rs, then one under-
So, to put things more clearly, let us say that instead of a history.of s~a??s t.he preeminent role of the history of in stitutions, o f religions, of
events, we would speak of a short time span, proportionate to individu- CIVIlIzatIOns, and (thanks to arc~eology with its need for vast chronologi-
als, to daily life , to our illusions, to our hasty awareness-above all the cal expanses) the ground-breakIng role of the studies devoted to classi cal
time of the chronicle and the journalist. Now, it is worth noting that side antiquities. It was only yesterday that they proved the saviors o f our
by side with great and, so to speak, historic events, the chronicle or the profession.
daily paper offers us all the mediocre accidents of ordinary life: a fire, a
railway crash, the price of wheat, a crime, a theatrical production, a . The recent break with the traditional forms of nineteenth-century
I flood . It is clear, then, that there is a short time span which plays a part in history has not mean~ a complete break with the short time span. It has
' all forms of life, economic, social, literary, institutional, religious, even wor~ed, as we know,. I.n fav~r of economic and social history, and again st
geographical (a gust of wind, a storm), just as much as political. the In~erests of political history. This ha s e nta iled upheavals a nd an
\ At first sight, the past seems to consist injust this mass of diverse facts, undeniable re?ewal , an~ also , inevitably, changes in method, the shifting
some of which catch the eye, and some of which are dim and repeat of ce?ters of Interest WIth the advent of a quantitative hi story th at h as
themselves indefinitely. The very facts , that is, which go to make up the certainly not exhausted all it has to offer.
daily booty of microsociology or of sociometry (there is microhistory But above all, there has been an alteration in traditional hi storical
too). But this mass does not make up aJI of reality , all the depth of ~istorL time. A d a y, a year once seemed useful gauges. Time , afte r all, was made
on which scie ntific thought is free to work. Social science has almost what
. amo u nts to a horror of the event. And not without some justification, for
up 0: an accu m u latio n o f days. But a price 5=u rve, a d~mographic p ro -
gres~I<m, the movement ofwages, the variations in interest rates, the stu dy I
the short time span is the most capricious and the most delusive of all. ' laSye~ more dreamed of th an achieved) of productivity, a rigo rous
Thus there is among some of us, as historians, a lively distrust of .analysis of money supply all demand much wider terms of reference.
traditional history, the history of events-a label which tends to become . 4..new kind of historical narrative has appeared, tbat of the co n-
confused , ra ther in exactly, with political history. Political history is not Juncture , of the cyc~.! ~nd even of the "inte rcycle," covering a d ecade , a
necessarily bound to events, nor is it forced to be. Yet exc ept fo r the quarrec Qra OOftwrr-tmd, tlHhe:;u t!lid ~ , the hftlt E Rt wry at Klun:b:ati ev's
factitious panoramas almost without substance in time which break up its cl;!~ic..Gyd~.F(}r-:-inst-afl~.~if-.we-diitregarthlfly-briehmd-mp~ffh::ial flu c-
narrative," except for the overviews inserted for the sa ke of variety, on tuations, pnces In Europe went up between 1791 a nd 1817, a nd went
the whole the history of the past hundred yea rs , almost always political ?own between 1817 and 1852. This unhurried double movement of
history centered on the drama of "gr eat events," has worked on and in I?CreaSe and decrease represents an entire intercycle m easured by th e
the sh ort time span. Perhaps that was th e price which had to be paid for time of Europe, and more or less by th at of th e who le wo rld . Of co u rse
the progress made during this same period in the scientific mastery of these chronological periods have no a bsolu te value. Francois Perr~ux 5
particular to ols and rigorous methods. The momentous discovery of the would offer us o ther, perhaps more valid, di viding lin es, me asured with
document led historians to believe that documentary authenticity was ~ther ba rometers, those of eco nom ic g rowth , income, or the g ross n a-
the re pository o f th e wh ole truth. "All we need to d o ," Louis H alphen
wrote o n ly yes te r day," is a llow o urse lves to be borne a long by th e docu-
/ Io? al p rod.uct. But wh.at d? all th ese current d e bat es matt er! What is
quite clear IS th at the hi storian ca n make u se o f a new no tion of time a
l it
'"
31 History and th e Social Sciences
30 Hist ory and the Other Human Sciences

few economists have proved interested in it, and the ir deliberations on


time raised to the level of explication, and that history can attempt to structural cr ises, based only on the recent past, as far bac k as 1929 , or
explain itself by dividing itself at new points of reference in response to 1870 at the very most," not h avin g h ad to withsta nd th e test of h istorical
\ these curves and to the very way they breathe. -verification, are morein the nature of ske tches and h ypoth ey
Thus Ernest Labrousse and his students, after their manifesto at the last offer nonetheless a useful introduction to th e history of t e longu e dur ee.
Rome Historical Congress (1955), set up a vast inquiry.into s~ci~l hist?ry They provide a first key .
in quantitative terms. I do riot think I am misrepresentmg thelr.mt~ntlon The second and far more useful key co nsis ts in th e word structure. For \,\
when I say that this inquiry must necessarily lead to the determination of good or ill, this word dominates th e problem s of th e longu e duree. By Sh
social conjunctures (and even of structures) that may ~ot share the s.ame structure, observers o f social questions mean a n organization, a co he re nt
rate of progress, fast or slow, as the economic. conJ~ncture. Besides, and fairly fixed series of rel ati onships between realities and social m as-
these two distinguished gentlemen-the economic conjuncture and the ses. For us historians, a str uc ture is of cou rse a constr uc t, a n arc h itec tu re,
social conjuncture,-must not make us lose sight of other actors, though but over and above that it is a reality whi ch tim e us es a nd abuses ove r
their progress will be difficult if not impossible to tr~c.k , f~r l~ck .of a

' precise way of measuring it. Science, technology , political institutions,


conceptual changes, civilizations (to fall back on that ~seful word).~ have
long periods. Some structures , because of their long life , become stable
elements for an infinite number of generations: th ey get in th e way of

I\
their own rhythms of life and growth, and the new history of conjuctures
will be complete only when it has made up a whole orchestra of ~he~ all.
_ In all logi c, this orchestration of conjunctures, by transcending itself,
history , hinder its flow, and in hindering it sh ape it. Others wea r them-
selves out more quickly . But all of them provide both SUPPOI't a n d
hindrance. As hindrances they stand as limits ("envelopes," in th e
mathematical sense) beyond which man and his experiences ca n not go.
should have led us straight to the longu e duree. But for a thousand rea- Just think of the difficulties of breaking ou t of ce rtain geograp h ical
~ons this transcendence has not been the rule, and a return to the short frameworks, certain biological realiti es, ce rtain limits of p roductivity,
term is being accomplished even now before our very eyes. P~rh aps thi s even particular sp ir itual constraints: mental fra meworks too can fot,'m
is because it seems more necessary (or more urgent) to knit together prisons of th e longue duree.
"cyclical" history and short-term traditional history than to ~o forward ,
toward the unknown. In military terms, it has been a question of con- The exa m p le wh ich comes most readily to mind is once again that of (
so lid atin g newl y secured positions. Ernest Labrousse's first great .boo~ , the geographical co nstraint. For ce n tu r ies, man has been a prison er of
published in 1933, was thus a study of the general movement. of pnces m climate , of vegetati on, of th e an ima l populati on , of a particul a r agricu l-
France during the eighteenth century," a movement la.stmg a good ture , of a whole slowly esta blishe d balance fro m which he ca n not esca pe
hundred yea rs. In 1943, in the most important work of history to have withou t th e ri sk o f eve ryth ing's bein g upse t. Look a t th e position held by
a p peared in France in twenty-five year s, this ve ry same Ernest Labro~ sse the movement of flocks in the lives of mountain people , the pe rman ence
succumbed to this need to return to a less cumbersome measure of time of certain secto rs of maritime life, rooted in th e favorable cond itions
when he pinpointed the depression of 1774 to 1791 as being one of the wro ugh t by particul ar coasta l co nfigu rations, look at the way th e sites of
most compelling sources, one of the prime launching pads of the French cities e nd u re, the pe rsiste nce of ro utes a nd trad e, and all the amazing
Revolution. He was still employing a demi-intercycle , a large measure. In fixit y of the geogra p hical setting of civilizations.
his address to the International Congress in Paris in 1948, Comment
naissent les revolutions? ("How are revolutions born?") , he attempted this There is th e same element of permanence or su rviva l in th e v';st d o-
time to link a new-style pathetic fallacy (short-term economic) to a very main of cultural affairs. Ernst Robert Curtius's magnificent book," whi ch
j".~ hi.,,,... old style pathetic fallacy (political, the "revolutionary days':)',And behold has at long last appeared in a French translation , is a study of a cultural
us back up to our ears in the short time span. Of cou.rse, this IS ~ per~ect~y system which prolonged the Latin civilization of the Byzantine Empire,
,'L5"tt fair and justifiable procedure, but how very revealing! The historian IS even while it distorted it through selectio ns and omissions. This civiliza-
naturally only too willing to act as theatrical producer. How could he be tion was itself weighed down by its own ponderous inheritance. Right up
expected to renounce the drama of the short time spa n, and all the best to the thirteenth and fourteenth ce n tu r ies, right up to th e birth of na-
tricks of a very old trade? tional literatures, the civilization of th e intellectual elite fed on the same
subjects, the same comparisons, th e same co m mo n places and catch -
Over and above cycles and intercycles, there is what the economists words. Pursuing an analogous line of th ought, Lu cien Febvre's stu dy
without always having studied it call the secular tendency. But so far only a
H isto ry and the Other Human Sciences
33 History and the Social Sciences

Rabelais et le probleme de l'incroyance au Xl/I" siecle," is an a~tempt to speci~y


the mental tools available to French thought at the urne of ~abelals. prove the rule (such as the fairs in Champagne which were already on
Febvre was concerned to define the whole body of concepts which re~ the decline at the beginning of the period, and the Leipzig fairs in the
ulated the arts of living, thinking, and believing well before Rabelais eighteenth century), were situated along the coastal fringes. As for other
and long after him, and which profoundly limited the intellectual e~ characteristics of this system, one might cite the 'p rimacy of merchants;
deavors of the freest spirits from the very outset. Alphonse D.up.ront s the prominent role of precious metals, gold, silver, even copper, whose
subject I 0 too appears as one of the freshest lines of r~search.wlth~n the endless vicissitudes would only be damped down , if then , by th e decisive
French school o f history. In it the idea of the crusade IS exammed ,~n th~ development of credit at the end of the sixteenth ce n tu ry ; the repeated
West after the fourteenth century, that is, well after the age of the true sharp difficulties caused by seasonal agricultural crises; let us sa y the
crusade in the continuity of an attitude endlessly repeated over the fragility of the very basis of economic life; and finall y the at fir st sight
longue duree, which cut across the most diverse societies, ,:orlds, and utterly disproportionate role accorded to one or two external trade
psyches, and touched the men of the nineteenth centu:y With on~, I,a~~ routes: the trade with the Levant from the twelfth to the sixteenth ce n-
ray. In another, related field, Pierre Francas~e,l:s~ook :elniUre et societe, . tury and the colonial trade in the eighteenth ce nt u ry . 1/ ..... (
demonstrates the permanence of "geo me tr ic plct?nal sJ:>ace from the These are what I would define , or rather suggest in m y turn following : c-,
beginnings of the Florentine Renaissanc~ ~ntIl cubism and the many others, as being the major characteristics of mercantile capitalism -,
emergence of intellectual painting at the begmnmg of.our own ce.ntury. in Western Europe, a stage which lasted over the longue duree. Despite all ., ~
In the history of science, too, all the many model universes are JUs~ as the obvious changes which run throug~~, these tour or five cen-
many incomplete explanations, but they also regularly last for centunes. turies of economic lifq'had a certain coherence,)right up to the upheavals
They are cast aside only when they have .s~ rved the!r turn over a long of the eighteenth century and the industria revolution from which we
period. The Aristotelian concept of the unI.verse pers~sted unchallenged, have yet to emerge. These shared cha racte ristics persisted d espite th e
or virtually unchallenged, right up to the nme of Calileo, Desca:tes, an? fact that all around them, amid other continuities, a thousand reversals
Newton; then it disappeared before the advent of a. geometnzed UnI- and ruptures totally altered the face of the world.
verse which in turn collapsed, though much later, in the face of the
Einsteinian revolution.P Among the different kinds of historical time, the longue du ree often
In a seeming paradox, the main problem lies in ~iscerni.ng th~ longue seems a troublesome character, full of complications, a nd all too fr e-
durie in the sphere in which historical research has Just achieved Its.most quently lacking in any sort of organization. To give it a place in the heart
notable successes: that is, the economic sphere. All the cycles and mter- of our profession would entail more than a routine expansion of our
cycles and structural crises tend to mask the regularities, the perma- studies and our curiosities. Nor would it be a question of making a
nence of particular systems that some ~ave g~ne . so far as. to call simple choice in its favor: For the historian, accepting the longu e duree
civilizations 13-that is to say, all the old habits of thmkmg and ac~mg,. the entails a readiness to change his style , his attitudes, a whole reversal in
set patterns which do not break down easily and which, however Illogical, his thinking, a whole new way of conceiving of social affairs. It means
are a long time dying. . becoming used to a slower tempo, which sometimes almost borders on
But let us base our argument on an example, and one which ca~ be the motionless. At that stage, though not at any other-this is a point to
swiftly analyzed. Close at hand , within th~ Europea~ sph:re, there IS ~n which I will return-it is proper to free oneself from the demanding
economic system which can be set down m a few hne.s: It preserved ItS time scheme of history , to get out of it and return later with a fr esh view ,
position pretty well intact from the fourteenth to the eighteenth cent~ry burdened with other anxieties and other questions. In a ny case, it is in
or, to be quite sure of our ground, until about 1750: For whol~ centunes, relation to these expanses ofslow-moving history that the whole of history
economic activity was dependent on demographically fragile popula- is to be rethought, as if on the basis of an infrastructure. All th e sta ge s,
tions, as was demonstrated by the great decline in population fro~ 1350 all the thousands of stages, all the thousand explosions of historical tim e
to 1450, and of course from 1630 to 1730. 14 For whol~ centur~es, all can be understood on the basis of th ese depths, this semistillness.
movement was dominated by the primacy of water and ShiPS, any mland Everything gravitates around it.
location being an obstacle and a source of inferiority. The great Euro-
pean points of growth, except for a few exceptions which go only to I make no claim to have defined th e historian's profession in th e
preceding lines--merely one co ncep tion of th at profession. A fter the
35 H istory and the Social Sciences
34 Histo ry and th e Other Human Sciences

The Quarrel with the Short T ime Span


storms we have been through during recent years, happy not to say naif
the man who cou ld believe th at we have hit upon true principles, clear These truths are of course banal. Nonetheless, th e social scie nces seem
limits, the Righ t School. In fact , all the social sciences find their tasks little tem pted by such remembran ce of things pa st. No t th at one can
shifting all the time, both because of their own developments and be- d raw up any firm accu sati on against th em a n d d eclare them to be con-
cause of the active development of them all as a body. History is no siste ntly guilty of not acce p tin g history or durati on as dimension s neces-
exception. There is no rest in view, the time for disciples has not yet sary to their studies. The "d iachronic" examina tion wh ich re in trod uces
come. It is a long way fro m Charles-Victor Langlois and Charles Seign- history is never absent from their theoretical deliberati ons.
. obos to Marc Bloch . But since Marc Bloch , the wheel h as no t sto p ped D,esp ite this sort of di stant acknowled gment, th ough, it mu st be ad-
'1 i turning. For me, h istory is the to tal of all possible histories-a n as- m~ttea that the social sciences, by taste , by deep-seat ed instin ct , perhaps
: ~ ( . semblage of professions a nd points of view : from yesterday, today, and by. trainin g, have a constant tendency to evade historical ex p la na tio n.
tomorrow , They evade it in two almost contradictory ways : by concent ra ting ove r- 1/
'I
,t" e '!V
The onl y error, in my view, wou ld be to choose one of these histories
to the exclusion of all others. T hat was, and always will be, the cardinal
much on the "cu r re nt eve n t" in social stu d ies, thanks to a brand of
empir ical sociology wh ich, disdainful of all 'h istory, co nfine s itsel f to th e
e Ol U
error of historicizing. It will not be easy, we know , to convince all histo- facts of the short term and investigations into "real life"; by transcending c-/
rians of th e truth of this. Still less, to convince all the social sciences, with time altogether a nd conjuring up a mathematical formulati on of more
their burn ing desire to get us back to history as we used to know it or less timeless structures under the name of "communications science."
yeste rd ay. It will take us a good deal of time and trouble to accommodate This last an d newest way is clearly the only one wh ich ca n be of a ny
all these changes and innovations beneath the old heading of history. substa n tial interest to us. But th ere are enough d evot ees of th e cu rrent
And ye t a new historical "science" has been born, a nd goes on question- event to justify exam ining both aspects of th e question.
ing and transforming itself. It revealed itself as ea rly as 1900, with th e We have alread y sta te d ou r mistrust of a hi story occu pied solely with ' i !
Revue de synthese historique, and with Annales which started to come out in events. T o be fair , th ough , if th ere is a sin in being overconce rned with
1929. The historian felt the desire to concentrate his attention on all the events, then history, though the most ob vious culprit, is not the on ly
human sciences. It is this which has given our profession its strange ~ilty one. All th e social sciences have sh ared in thi s error. Eco nomists,
frontiers, and its strange preoccupations. So it must not be imagined th at d ernogra p he rs, geograp hers are all balan ced (and badly balan ced) be-
the same ba rriers and differences exist between the historian and th e tween -the demands of yeste rday and of tod ay. In order to be righ t they
socia l scie ntist as existed yesterday. All the human scie nces, history in - would need to main tain a constant balance---easy enough , and indeed
cluded, are affected by one a nother. They speak th e same language , or obligatory, for th e d emographer , a nd almost a matter of cou rse for
could if they wanted to . geographe rs (particu larly.ours, reared in the Vidalian school)-but rare
Whether you take 1558 or this year of grace 1958, the problem for for economists, held fa st to the mo st short lived of curre n t eve nts, hardly
! a nyone tackling the world scene is to define a hierarchy__QfJorce~ of lookin g back be yond 194 5 or forecasting further in ad vance than a fe w
~!.~ of'particular movements, and th en tackle then"! as an entire, months , or a t most a few yea rs. 1 would m aintain th at all eco nom ic
cons!ellat~on. At each moment of this research, one has to di stinguish thinking is trapped by th ese temporal restrictions. It is u p to histor ia ns,
between lon g-lasting mo vements and short bursts, the latter detected so economists say, to go back further th an 1945 , in search of old
from the moment they originate, the former over the course of a distant economies. Economists th us voluntarily rob th emselves of a marve lous
time. The world of 1558, which appeared so gloomy in France, was not . field of obse rv ation, although witho ut d enyin g its value. They h ave fal-
born at the beginning of that charmless year. The same with our own len into the habit of putting themselves at th e disposal of cu rre n t eve nts
troubled year of 1958. Each "current event" brings together movements and of governments.
of different origins, of a different rhythm: today's time dates from yes- The position of ethnographers and eth no logists is neither so clear no r
te rday, the d ay before yesterd ay, and all former times. so alarming. Some of th em have taken great pains to und erline the
impossibility (but intellectuals are always fascin ated by th e impossible)
and the uselessness of a p p lying history within th eir p rofession . Suc h an
au thoritarian denial of history would hardly h ave serve d Malinowski a n d
36 History and the Other Human Sciences H isto ry and the Social Sciences

his d isciples. Indeed, how could anthropology pos~ibly not have an QU as a man of the twentieth century. Why this difference? That is the
interest in history? History and anthropology both sprmg from the same uestion which one then has to set about answering. But I would claim V
impulse, as Claude Levi-Strauss '" delights in saying. There is no society, at' such surprise, such unfamiliarity, such distancing-these great
however primitive, which does not bear the "scar~ of events," nor..an.y ighways to knowledge-are no less necessary t? an understanding of all
society in which history has sunk c~mpletely wlth?u~ trace. This IS nat surrounds us and which we are so close to that we cannot see clearly.
something there is no need to complam about or to msist on further. rve in Lo ndo n for a year and you will not know mu ch about England .
On the other hand, where sociology is concerned, our quarrel along 'lIt by co ntrast, in light of what has surprised you , you will suddenly
the frontiers of the short term must necessarily be a rather bitter one. ave come to understand so me of the most deep-seated and characteris-
Sociological investigations into the contemporary scene seem to run in a ic..aspects of France, things which you did not know before because yo u
thousand different directions, from sociology to psychology to econom- new them too well. With regard to the present, the past too is a way of
ics, and to proliferate among us as they do abroad. They are, in. th~ir istancing yourself.
own way, a bet on the irreplaceable value of the present moment, WIth ItS In this way historians and social scientists could go on forever batting
"volcanic" heat, its abundant wealth. What good would be served by e ball back and forth between dead documents and all-too-living evi-
turning back toward historical time: impoverished, simrlified: dev- nce , th e distant past and the too-close present. But I do not believe
astated by silence, reconstructed-above all, let us say It agam, re- nat this is a crucial problem. Past and present illuminate each other
constructed. Is it really as dead, as reconstructed, as they woul d have us ciprocall . And in exclusively observing the narrow confines of the
believe, though? Doubtless a historian can only too easi ly isolate the resent, th e attention will irresistibly be drawn toward whatever move s
crucial factor from some past age. To put it in Henri Pirenne's words, he uickl y, bur ns with a true or a false flame , or ha s just changed , or makes
can distinguish without difficulty the "important events," which means oise , or is easy to see. There is a whole web of events, as wearisome as
"those which bore consequences." An obvious and dangerous ov~r ny in the historical sciences, which lies in wait for the observer in a
simplification. But what would the explorer of the present-day .not. give urry, the ethnographer dwelling for three months with some Polyne -
to have this perspective (or this sort of ability to go forw~rd ~n tIm~), ian tribe , the industrial sociologi st delivering all the cliches of his latest
making it possible to unmask and simplify our present hfe, m all .ItS nvestigation , or who truly believes that he can thoroughly pin down
confusion-hardly comprehensible now because so overburdened WIth orne social mechanism with cunningly phrased questionnaires and
trivial acts and portents? Claude Levi-Strauss claims that one hour's ~alk ombinations of punched cards. Social questions are more cun ning ga me
with a contemporary of Plato:s would tell him m?re than all ?~~ cl~sslc~! an th at.
treatises on the coherence or mcoherence of ancient Greek civilization, In fact, what possible interest can we take, we the human sciences , in
I quite agree. But this is because for years he has heard a hundred Greek e mo vements of a you ng girl between her home in the sixteenth ar-
voices rescued from silence. The historian has prepared his way. One dissement, her music teacher, and the Ecole des Scien ces-Po , di s-
hour in modern Greece would tell him nothing, or hardly anything, sed in a sound and wide-ranging study of the Paris areai '" They
about contemporary Greek coherence or incoherence. Cl.1<.e up a fine-looking map. But if she had studied agronomy or gone in
Even more to the point, the researcher occupied w.ith the prese~t c~n r water-skiing, the whole pattern of her triangular journeys would
make out the "fine" lines of a structure only by himself engaging m ve been altered. It is nice to see on a map th e distribution o f all
reconstruction, putting forward theories and. explanations, ~ot .getting miciles belonging to employees in a large concern. But if I do not have
embroiled in reality as it appears, but truncating It, transcendmg It. Such earlier map, if the lapse of time between the two maps is not sufficient
maneuvers allow him to get away from the given situation the better to low the tracing of a genuine movement, then precisely where is the
control it, but they are all acts of reconstruction. I would seriously ques- blem without which an y inquiry is sim ply a waste of effort? An y
tion whether sociological photography of the present time i.s any more terest in inquiries for inquiry'S sake is limited to th e collection of data
"true" than the historical portrayal of the past, more particularly the est. Bu t even then these data will not all be ipso[acto useful for fu tu re
more it tri es to get any further away from the reconstructed. .. rk. We must beware of art for art's sake .
Philippe Aries 17 has emphasized the importance of the unfamiliar, of n the same way I would question whether any stud y of a town , no
surprise in historical explanation: you are in the si~teenth century: and tter which , could be the object of a sociological inquiry in the way th at
you stu mble upon some peculiarity, something which see ms peculiar to xerre!? was, or Vie nne in the Dauphine.f" witho ut being set in its
38 History and the Other Human Sciences History and the Social Scien ces

historical context. Any town, as an extended social entity with all its ~l f-de~ning, though their function in th e actual stu dy of social qu es-
crises, dislocations, breakdowns, and necessary calculations, must be ons migh t be less easy to make out th an it appears. In fact , as far as th e
seen in relation to the whole complex of districts surrounding it, as well 1 nguage of history is concerned (insofar as I conc eive it) there ca n be no
as in relation to those archipelagos of neighboring towns which Richard uestion of perfect synchrony: a sudden h alt , in whi ch all tim e spans
Hapke, the historian, was one of the first to discuss. Sim ilarly, it must uld be suspe nded , is almost an absurdity in itself, or, and thi s come s to
also be considered in relation to the movement, more or less distant in e same thin g, is highly factitious. In the same way, a des cent following
time, sometimes extremely distant, which directs this whole complex. It the onwar d stream of time is conceivable only in terms of a multiplicity
cannot be of no interest, it must rather surely be crucial to note down pf descen ts, following the innumerable different rivers of time.
particular urban/rural exchanges, particular industrial or mercantile These brief summaries and warnings must su ffice for now. But one
competition, to know whether you are dealing with a movement in the ~st be more explicit when dealing with unconscious history, models, and
full flush of its youth, or at the end of its run, with the beginnings of a social mathematics. Besides, these commentaries will, I hope , with out too
resurgence or a monotonous re petition. much d elay, link together what is problematic in all the social sciences.
Unconscious history, is, of course, the history of the unconscious ele-
ments in social development. "Men make their own history, but they do
One last remark: Lucien Febvre, during the last ten years of his life, is
not know that they are making it."22 Marx's formula pinpoints the
said to have repeated: "History, science of the past, science of the pres-
proble~ , but does not explain it. In fact it is the same old problem of
ent." Is not history, the dialectic of time spans, in its own wayan expla-
short nme span, of "microtime," of the event, that we find ourselves
nation of society in all its reality? and thus of contemporary society? And
c?nfr?nt~~ with under a new name. Men ha ve always had th e impres-
here its role would be to caution us against the event: do not think only
SIOn, m hvm?" out their time , of being able to grasp its pa ssage fr om d ay
of the short time span, do not believe that only the actors which make the
to day. But IS this clear , conscious history delusory, as man y historians
most noise are the most authentic-there are other, quieter ones too. As
h~ve agreed? Yester~ay linguistics believed th at it co u ld derive every-
if anybody did not know that already!
thmg from words. HIstory was under th e illu sion that it co u ld d er ive
everything from events. More th an one o f ou r co nte m pora r ies would be
Communication and Social Mathematics happy to believe th at eve rything is the result of th e ag ree me nts at Yalt a
or Potsd am , the in cidents at Dien Bien Phu or Sakhiet-Sidi-You ssef or
Perhaps we were wrong to linger on the tempestuous borders of the again ~rom that other eve n t, important in a different way it is tru e, 'the
short time span. In actual fact, that debate proceeds without any great launch ing of the sp u tn iks. Unconsciou s history p ro ceeds be yond th e
interest, certainly without any useful revelations. The crucial debate is re ach of these illuminati ons and their bri ef flash es. One has, th e n , to
elsewhere, among our neighbors who are being carried away by the concede that there d oes exist, at some di stan ce , a social uncon sciou s.
newest experiment in the social sciences, under the double heading of ~nd c~nce.de , too, th at t 'IS unconsciou s might well be thou g~n~
"communications" and mathematics. n ch , scientifically speaki n g, th an th e glitte r ing su r face to wh ich our eyes
But this will be no easy brief to argue. I mean it will be by no means are accustomed. More rich scie ntifically, meaning sim pler, eas ier to
easy to prove that there is no sort of social study which can avoid histori- exploit- not easier to dis cove r . But th e ste p from bri ght su rface to
cal time, when here is one which, ostensibly at least, has its being entirely mu r ky d eP.ths--fr?m noise to silence- is diffi cult a nd d a nge rou s.
outside it. ~qually letit be said th at "u nco nscious" history, belonging half to th e
In any case, the reader who wishes to follow our argument (either to 'time of conjunctures and wholly to structural time , is clearly visible more
agree or to dissociate himself from our point of view) would do well to freq u en tly than one would willingly admit. Each one of us ca n sense,
weigh for himself, one after another, the terms of a vocabulary which , ove r ~nd ab~ve his own life , a mass history, thou gh it is true he is more
though certainly not entirely new , have been taken up afresh and re- con sCIOUSof ItS power and impetus th an of its laws or direction. And this
juvenated for the purposes of these new debates. There is nothing more con sciousness is not only of recent date (like th e co nce rns of eco no mic
to be said here , obviously, about events, or the longue durie. Nor a great hist~ry~ , alth?ugh today it may be increasingly sha r p . The revolution,
deal about structures, though the word-and the thing-is by no means r .it IS an intellectual revolution, consisted in co n fro nting thi s half
entirely free from uncertainty and debate." Nor would there be any ar kness head on, and giving it a greater and greate r place next to, and
point in dwelling on the words synchronous and diachronous: they are ~ep. fO the detriment of, a history purely of eve nts.
40 History and the Other Human Sciences History and th e Social Sciences

History is not alone in this prospecting (quite the reverse, all it has . etch~d o~t. in an earlier book.f" of the cycle of economic development
done has been to follow others into the area, and adapt the perspectives ~.ltahan cltle~ between the sixteenth and eighteenth cent u ries. These
of the new social sciences for its own use), and new instruments of ItIes. beca~e m turn mercantile, "ind us trial," and fin ally specialists in
knowledge and research have had to be created: hence models, some an~mg, this last development being the slowest to grow and th e slowes t
more or less perfected, some still rather rough and ready. Models are die a~ay. ~ho~gh in fact less all-embracing than the str ucture of
only hypotheses , systems of explanations tied solidly together in the rcan~le .capltahsm, this sketch would be much the more easil y ex-
form of an equation, or a function : this equals that, or determines the ended. m tIme and space. It records a phenomenon (some would say a
other. Such and such a reality never appears without that one, and narmc st~cture, but all str uctu res in history have at least an elemen-
constant and close links are revealed between the one and the other. The ry d ynam ism) capable of recurring under a number of common cir-
carefully constructed model will thus allow us to inquire, throughout umsta nces. Perhaps the same could be said of the model sketched out
time and space, into other social environments similar to the observed Fran k Spooner a.nd myself' '" which dealt with the history of precious
social environment on the basis of which it was originally constructed. etals before, du.nng, and. after the sixteenth century: gold, silver,
opper- and credit, that agile substitute for metal-all pla y their part
That is its constant value.
These systems of explanation vary infinitely according to the temper- too. The "s~rategy" 0: one weighs on the "strategy" of another. It would
not ?e par ticu larly difficult to remove this model from the special and
ament, calculations, and aims of those using them: simple or complex,
qualitative or quantitative, static or dynamic, mechanical or statistical. I Hartlcularly turbulent world of the sixteenth century, which happened to
am indebted to Levi-Strauss for this last distinction. A mechanical model ~ the one w~ selected for our observations. Have not economists dealing
would be of the same dimensions asdirectly observed reality, a reality of ith th e partl~ul~r case of underdeveloped cou n tries attem pted to verify
limited dimensions, of interest only to very small groups of people (this is e old quantitative theory o f money, which was, after all, a mod el too in
Its own fashion .s"
how ethnologists proceed when dealing with primitive societies). When
dealing with large societies, where great numbers come in, the calcula- But the time spans possi?le to ali these models are bri ef compared with
tion of the average becomes necessary: this leads to the construction of ~ose of the model conceived by the you ng American social historian
statistical models. But what do these sometimes debatable distinctions Ig~und Diamond.s? Diamond was struck by the double language of th e
really matter! c>mman t clas.s ~f great American financier contemporaries of Pierpont
~rgan, consisung of a language internal to their class, and an ex te rnal
In my opinion, before establishing a common program for the social
sciences, the crucial thing is to define the function and limits of models , an~age ', ~his last , truth to tell, was a brand of special pleading with
th e scope of which some undertakings seem to be in danger of enlarging ~hc: o~~mon to whom the success :of th e financier is p re sented as the
inordinately. Whence the need to confront models , too , with th e notion . I~al tnum~h of the self-~ man, the condition necessary fo r the na-
of the time span; for the meaning and the value of their explanations on s prospent~ . Struck by this double language, Diamond saw in it th e
st~ma~ ~eactIon of any dominant class which feel s its prestige waning
depend fairly heavily, it seems to me , on their implied duration.
d.lts pn vIleges.threatened. I~ order to camouflage itself, it is necessary
~ It to.confuse ItS own fate with that of the City or the Nation, its own
To be more clear, let us select our examples from among historical vate mterests with the public interest. Sigmund Diamond would will-
mo d els.P by which I me an those constructed by historians. They are l~ explain the evolution of the idea of d yn ast y or of empire, th e
fairl y rough and ready as models go, not often driven to the rigor of an gh~h dynasty or the Roman empire, in the same way. The model thus
authentic scientific law, and never worried about coming out with some nC~I~ed clearly has the run of the centuries. It presupposes cer tain
revolutionary m athematical language-but models nonetheless, in their dl?ons: but these are conditions with which history is abundantly
own way. phed: It follows . that it is valid for a much io nger time span th an
Above we have discussed mercantile capitalism between the four- er of the pre~edmg models, but at th e same tim e it puts into question
teenth and the eighteenth centuries: one model which, among others, ch mo~e ,PrecIse and exact aspects of realit y.
can be drawn from Marx's work. It can be applied in full only to one ~t th e limit, as the mathematicians would say, thi s kind of model is kin
particular family of societies at one particular given time , eve n if it leaves the fa.vorite , a~most timeless models of sociological mathematici ans.
the door o pe n to every ex trapo lation. most timeless, m actual fact, travelin g the d ark , untended byways of
There is already a di fference between thi s and the model which I e extreme longue duri e.
Histo ry and the O ther H um an Sciences Hi story and the Social Sciences
42

The preceding explanations must of ne cessity provide only an. in- (1) such ma chines, su ch mathematical possibilities, do ex ist; and (2) soci-
adequate introduction to the science and theory of models. And histo- ety must prepare itself for social mathematics, whi ch is no lon ger our old
rians are far from standing in the forefront. Their models are hardly ccustomed mathematics of price curves and th e gra p hs of birth rat es.
more than bundles of ex planations. O u r colleagues are more am~itious Now , while the workings of th e new mathematics may often elude us,
and ad vanced in research, attempting to establish links between the the preparation of social reality for its use , fittin g it out a nd tri m ming it
theories and languages of information or communications theory or of appropriately, is a task we can well cope with . T he prelim inary treatment
qualitative mathematics. T heir merit-and it is a great one-is in ab- has up till now been almost always exac tly th e same: choose some uni fied '
t'\ ~T~ e ,..,...
sorbing the subtle language of mathematics into their domain, though imited object of obs ervation , such as a "p rimitive" tribe or a d em o-
th is runs the ris k, should our attention flag even sligh tly, of its escaping graphic "isolate," in which almost everything ca n be see n and to uche d
from our control and r unning off, Heaven only knows where! Informa- <Iirectly, then est abli sh all possible relati onships, all possible ga mes
tion and communications theory, qualitative mathematics, all come to- mong the elements thus distinguished. Such re lations hips, rigorously
gether under the already substantial patronage of social mathematics. orked out, provide th e very equations fro m which mathem atics will be
And we must try, as far as we are able, to light our lantern by their flame . ble to d raw all possible co nclusions and proj ections in o rder to come
too. up with a model whi ch sums th em all up , or rather takes them all into
ccount.
Socia l mathernatics'" is made up of at least three languages, and there
is still scope for them to mingle and develop more. Mathematic~ans have
not yet come to the end of their inventiveness. Besides, there IS .not one Obviously a million o penings for research exis t in th ese areas. But one
mathematics, the mathematics (or, if there is, it is only as an assertion , not x mple is wor th any amou nt of prolonged ex planation . We have
a fact) : "one should not say algebra, geometry, but an algebra , a ude Levi-Stauss as an excellent gu ide, let u s fo llow him. H e can
geometry" (Th. Guilbaud)--which does not make our problems: or troduce us to one area of th ese researches, call it that of a science of
theirs, any easier. Three languages, then : that of necessary facts (a gIVen mmunications. 3 0
fact, and its consequence) , which is the domain of traditional ~ath~mat "In .any society," writes Levi-Strauss,"! "com mu nica tio n o perates on at
ics; the language of contingent facts , dating from Pascal, which IS the e st th ree levels: co m m u nication of wome n, co mmu nica tion of goo ds
domain of the calcu latio n of probabilities; and finally the language of d services, communicati on of messages." Let us agree that th ese are, at
conditioned facts , neither determined nor contingent but behavin g eir d ifferent levels, di fferent languages, but languages nonetheless. If
under certain co nstrain ts, tied to the rules o f a ga me, to the "strategic" at is so, are we not entitled to treat the m as languages, or even as
ax is in th e games of Von Neumann and Morgenstern ,29. th ose t~u~ ge, and to associate th em , whe ther d irec tly or indirectly, to the
phant games which have gone on developing on the basi s of their m - satio nal progress made by lin gui stics, and eve n more by phonemics,
venters' first bold principles. Game theory, with its use of wholes,. of ch "will cer tainly pla y th e same re novating rol e with respect to the
groups, and of the calculation of probabilities, opens the way to "q~ahta ial scienc es that nuclear ph ysics, for exam ple, has played for the
tive" mathematics, and from that moment the move from observation to ical sciences" ? 32 T hat is saying a lot, but sometimes one has to say a
mathematical formulation does not have to be made along the painful ITust as history is caught in the trap of eve nts, lin guistics, caught in the
path of measurements and long statistical calculations. ~ne can pass of words (the relation be twee n wor d and object, th e histo rical evo-
directl y from an observation of social reality to a mathematical formula- non of words), was set free by the ph onemic revolution . It became
tion , to the calculating machine, so to speak. . e, beneath th e word , of the unit of sou nd whic h is the ph oneme , at
Of course, the machine's diet has to be prepared in advance , smce oint pa ying no atte ntion to its sense, but carefu lly noting its plac-
there are only certain kinds of food which it can co pe with. Besides, the th e sounds' accompanying it, th e grou ping of these sounds, the
science of information has evolved as a function of true machines and aphonemic str uc tu res, and th e who le underlying unconscious real ity
th eir rules of functioning , in order to promote communication in the most language. On th e basis o f th e few doze n ph o nemes which occur in
material sense of the word. The author of this article is by no me ans a q; langu age in th e world, th e new ma thematical calcu lations set to
specialist in these complex fields . The research toward creating a trans- and in so doing set linguistics, or at least one as pect of lingui stics,
lating machine, which I followed from afar but nonetheless followed, ~as [ o m the realm of social stud ies to scale th e "he ig hts of th e physical
left me and many others deep in thought. All the same , two facts remam: ences."
44 History and the Other Human Sciences Hi story and th e Social Sciences

To extend the meaning of language to elementary struc tures of kin- which they are dealing. And for the social obse rve r, th at length of tim e is '
sh ip , myths, ceremonial, economic exchanges is to attempt that difficult {un.dame n ta l,.for ~ven more significant th an th e d eep-ro oted structu res
but worthw hile ro ute to the summit. Claude Lev i-Strauss showed this uflife are their points of rupture , their swift or slow d et e riorati on unde r
sort of courage initially when dealing with matrimonial exchanges-that e effect of contradictory pressures.
first language, so essential to all human communication th at there is no I have .som~ti~es comp.a~ed models to sh ips. What interests me, once
society, whether primitive or not, in which incest, marriage within the e bo~t IS built, IS to put It In the water to see if it will float , and th en to
nuclear family, is not forbi dden. T hus, a language. And beneath th is . ak.e It ascend a~d descend the wat ers of tim e , at m y wil\. The
language he sought the one basic element which would, so to speak, gnifican t m.oment .ls when it can keep afloat no longer, and sinks. T h us
correspond to the phon e me. T hat element, that "atom " of kinship, was !;; expl anac on which Frank Spooner and I proposed for th e interplay
put forward by our guide in its most simple format in his thesis of precious ~etals seems to me to have little validity before th e fifteenth
1949:3 3 the man, his wife, their ch ild , and the child's maternal uncle. On ntury'. Earher than that, the com p etition be iween metals was of a vio-
the basis of this quadrangular element and of all known systems of nee quite unparalleled i? previous obs ervations. It was up to us th en to
marriage wit hi n these p rimitive worlds-and they are many-the math- ad out wh~. J~st as, gOing dow nstream this time, we had to find out
ematicians were enabled to work out all possible combinations and solu- Lw. y t?e nav~gatl~n of our over-simple craft became first difficult and
tions. With the help of the mathematician An dre Weill , Levi-Strauss was en Imposslbl: In the eighteenth century with the unprecedented
able to translate the observations of the anthropologist into mathemat- wth ~f credit. It seems to me that research is a question of endlessly
ical terms. The resu lting model should p rovid e proof of the validity and ceeding from the social reality to the model and then back .
. ' . ' again,
stability of the system , and point out the solutions which it implies. . so on , In a senes of readjustments and patiently renewed trips In
The procedure of this research is clear: to get past superficial observa- IS way the mod:l is, in turn, an atte m p t at an ex plana tion of 'th e
tion in order to reach the zone of unconscious or barely conscious ele- tnuct~r~, and an Instrument of control a nd com par ison, able to verify
ments, and then to reduce that reality to tiny elements, minute identical solid ity and t~e very life of a given structure. If I were to construct a
sections, whose relations can be precisely analyzed. It is at this "micro- el o.n the ?asls of th e present, I would immediately relocate it in its
sociological [of a certain kind, I would add] stage that one might hope tex.t In reahty, an.d then take it back in time , as far back as its origi ns,
to discover the most general structural laws , just as the linguist discovers ossible. ~fter WhICh, I wo~ld project its probable life , r igh t up to th e
his at the infra-phonemic level or the physicist at the infra-molecular or 6~t brea~: In accordance with the cor respond ing movement of ot he r
atomic leve\," 34 This is of course an activity which can be pursued in a al reahtles: Unless I shoul? d ecide to use it as an ele ment of co m pa ri-
good many other directions. Thus, what could be more instructive than .and take.It o~f th.rough time and space, in search of othe r aspects of
to see Levi-Strauss coming to grips, this time , with m yths , and in a Ity on which It mi ght sh ed ne w light.
light-hearted way with cooking. Myths he reduced to a series of individ- ould I be ~rong to b~lieve that th e m odels put fo rwa r d by qualita-
ual cells, or mythemes; the language of cookbooks he reduced (no ne too athema tlcs, at lea st Insofar as th ey h ave been shown to us up till
ser iously) to gustemes. Each time , he has sought the deepest, lea st con- ,'35 would I~nd themselves ill to suc h excu rs ions, above all becau se
scious layers. I am not concerned, while I speak, with the phonemes in war~ committed to traveling along on ly o ne of tim e's many possible
my speec h; nor, unless very exce p tionally, when I am at th e table , do I hwa ys, that of the extreme longue duree, shelte red fr om all accide nts
conce rn m yself with "gu ste rne s," if gu stemes in fact exist. And yet, each es, and sUdde~ break~? I will refer , once again , to Clau de Levi~
time, th e su btle an d precise interplay of relationships is there, keeping uss, because hi s expenments in thi s field see m to me th e most well
me com pa ny . As far as these sim p le, mysterious relationships go , will the ug?t out, t?e clearest, a nd the most sec urely rooted in th e social
final act o f soc iologica l research be to grasp them where they lie beneath renee which any such undertaking should be based on a nd return
all language s, in order to translate them into one Morse code that is the t us note .that each time he is concerned with questioning a
universal langu age of mathematics? That is the prime am bition of the nomenon whl~h d evel ops onl y very slowly, almos t tim elessly. All kin-
new social mathematics. But th at , if I may say so , is another story . ~yste~s. persist because there is no human life possible beyond a
. n ~atlo of consanguinity, so th a t, fo r a sma ll grou p of people to
But let us ge t back to the question of time spa ns. I have said that models
are of varying d uration: they are valid for as long as th e reality with
. e, It must open on~o the ou tside world : the p rohibition of incest is a
ty of the longue duree. Myth s too, d eveloping slowly, correspond to
I
History and the Other Human Sciences Hist ory a nd the Socia l Sciences
46

structures of an extremely long duration. Without even bothering to complex societies, in which observation can be car ried ou t only accord-
pick out the oldest, one could collect together all the versions of the in g to averages, or in other words accord ing to tr aditional mathem atics.
Oedipus story, so that classified according to their different variations, Bu t once the averages have been arrived at , sho uld th e obs erver be able
they might throw light o n the u nderlying impulse which shapes them all. to establish , on the scale of groups rather than of individuals , th ose basic
But let us suppose for a moment that our colleague was not interested in relationships which we have been discussing and which are necessary to
myths, but in, say, the images p roj ected by, and succeeding inter- the for mulatio n of qualitative mathematics, then there would be nothing
pretations of, "Machiavellianism," and that he was seeking the basic ele- to stop him from making use of them again. So far as I know , th ere have
ments in this fairly straightforward and very widespread doctrine, which not been any attempts made along these line s. But these are ea rly days
came into being in the middle of the sixteenth century. Everywhere here for such experiments. For the moment, wh ether o ne is d ealin g with
he would find rifts and reversals , even in the very structure of psychology, economics, or anthropology, all th e exper iments have been
Machiavellianism, for it is not a system which has the theatrical, sempi- carried out in the way I discu ssed when spe aking o f Levi-Strau ss. Bu t
ternal solidity of myth. It is sensitive to any action and reaction, ~o all ~he qualirative social mathematics will not have proved itself until it has
various inclemencies of history. In a word, it does not have ItS being confro nt ed a modern society with involved problems and different rates
solely within the calm, monotonous highways of the longue duri e. Th~s of develop ment. I would wager that this venture will tempt on e of our
the process recommended by Levi-Strauss in th~ searc~ for mathematI~ sociologist-mathematicians; I would wager equally th at it will prompt a
able structures is valid not only on the level of microsociology, but also 10 nec essar y revision of the methods according to which the new mathe-
confronting the infinitely small and the extreme longue duree. matics has operated so far, penned up in wh at I would call, in thi s
Does this mean that this revolutionary qualitative mathematics is con- 'nstance , the excessive longu e duree. It must rediscover the div ersity of
demned to follow only the paths of the extreme longue duree? In which life-the movement, the different time spans, the rifts and variati ons.
case , after a hard struggle, all we find ourselves with are truths built
rather too much on the dimensions of eternal man. Elementary truths, IT:ime for the Hi storian, Time for th e Sociologist
aphorisms amounting to no more than mere common sense , are what
the disappointed might be inclined to say. To which would come the nd here I am, afte r an incursion into th e tim eless re alm s of social
reply, fundamental truths, able to cast new light on the very bases of all at hematics, back at th e question of time and time spans. And in-
social life . But that is not the whole question. orrigible historian th at I am, I stand amazed yet again that sociologists
I do not in fact believe that these experiments--or analogous nave managed to avoid it. But the thing is th at th eir time is not ou rs: it is
experiments--cannot be conducted outside the scope of the very lo~gue great deal less imperious and less conc ret e and is never cen tra l to their
duree. The stuff of qualitative social mathematics is not figures but links, ~.pblems and their thoughts.
relationships, which must be fairly rigorously defined before they can be In truth, the historian can never get away fro m th e question of time in
rendered into a mathematical symbol, on the basis of which one can istory: time sticks to hi s thinking like soil to a gardene r's spade. He may
study all the mathematical possibilities of these symbols, without having ell dream of getting away from it, of cou rse. Sp u rred on by th e anguish
to trouble oneself any more about the social reality which they represent. of, 1940, Gaston Roupnel 36 wro te words on thi s su bject th at will ma ke
Thus the entire value of the conclusions is dependent upon the value of ny true historian su ffe r. Simil ar is th e classic re ma r k mad e by Paul
the initial observation, and on the selection of essential elements within acombe who was also a historian of th e gra nd school: "Time is nothing
the observed reality and the determination of their relationships. One I itself, objectively, it is only an idea we ha ve."!" But d o th ese rem arks
can thus see why social mathematics has a preference for what Claude ally p rovid e a way out? I myself, during a rather gloomy captivity,
Levi-Strauss calls mechanical models, that is to say, models based on r.uggled a good deal to get awa y fr om a chronicle o f those difficult years
fairly narrow groups in which each individual can, so ~o speak, .be .d i- 94 0-45). Rejecting events and th e time in which even ts tak e place was a
rectly observed, and in which a highly homogeneous SOCial orgamzatIon ay of placing oneself to one side, she ltered, so as to ge t some sort of
enables a secure definition of human relationships , in a simple and con- erspective , to be able to evaluate th em better, and not wholly to believe
crete way, and with few variations. them . To go from th e sh ort tim e spa n, to one less sho rt, and th en to
So-called statistical models, on the other hand , deal with large and lon g view (which, if it exists, mu st surely be the wise man 's time
48 History and the Other Human Sciences History and th e Social Scien ces

span); and having got there, to think ab?ut ~verything afresh and to material life, can be measured. A structural social crisis should be equally
reconstruct everything around one: a historian could hardly not be pos sible to locate in time , and through it. We should -be able to place it \
tempted by such a prospect. . . ' . exactly, both in itself and even more j n relation to th e movement of
But these successive flights cannot put the ~Isto~lan ?efinItI~ely b~ associated str~T.es. What is profoundly interesting to th e histo rian is
yond the bounds of the world's time, beyo.nd historical time, so Impen- t e w y t es;; movements cross one another, and how they interact, and \ j
ous because it is irreversible, and because It flows at the very rhythm of ho w they break u _: all things which can be recorded only in relation to
the earth's rotation. In fact, these different time. spans .wh~ch we can t e u nifor m time of historians, which can stand as a general measu re of all
discern are all interdependent: it is not so much time whIC~ IS the crea- these p henome na , and not in relation to the multiform time of social re-
tion of our own m inds, as the way in which we break It up. !hese ality , which can stand only as the individual measure of each of these
fragments are reunited at the end of all our labors. The lon~e duree, ~he phenomena separately.
conjuncture, the event all fit into each other neatly and without diffi-
culty, for they are all measured on .the same scale. Equ~lly, to be ~ble to Righ tly or wrongly, the historian cannot but formulate such opposed
achieve an imaginative understandmg of one of these time st:>ans IS to be. '(leas , even when entering into the welcoming, almost brotherly re alm of
able to understand them all. The philosopher, taken up with the su~ eorges Gurvitch's sociology. Did not a philosopher t" define him re-
jective aspect of things, interior to any noti.on of ti?",e, never senses ~hls ently as the one "who is driving socio logy back into the arms of his-
weight of historical time, of a concrete, universal time, suc~ a~ the tIm.e ory " ? Bu t even with him, the historian can recognize neither his time
of conjuncture that Ernest Labrousse" depicts at the beginning of his ans nor his temporalities. The great social edifice (should one say
book like a traveler who is constantly the same and who travels the world 'del?) erected by Georges Gurvitch is organized according to five basic
imposing the same set of values, no matter the c?un.tr~ i~ which he has chitectu r al aspectsr'! the deeper levels; the level of sociability; th e level
disembarked, nor what the social order with whIC~ It .IS mvested. social groups; the level of global societies; and the level of tim e. This
For the historian everything begins and ends with time, a mathemat- nal bit of scaffolding, temporalities, the new est and the most recently
ical, godlike time, a notion easily mocke.d, time exte~nal to men , uilt , is as if superimposed on the whole.
"exogenous," as economists would say, pushmg men, f?r~m~ them, and Georges Gurvitch's temporalities are various. He distinguishes a whol e
painting their own individual times the same color: It IS, mdeed, the ies of them: the time of the longue duree and slow motion , tim e th e
imperious time of the world. .. . .. ceiver and time the surpriser, time with an irregular beat, cyclic tim e
Sociologists, of course, will not entertain this oversimplIfied notion. nning in place, time running slow, time alternating between running
They are much closer to the dialectique de .la du~ee as put fo~ard ?y wand fast, time running fast , explosive time.v' How could a hi storian
Gaston Bachelard.i" Social time is but one dimension .o~ the. sO~lal re~IIty lieve in all this? Given such a range of colors, he could ne ve r re-
under consideration. It is within this reality just as It IS wI~hln ~ g~v~n stitute a single, white light-and that is something he cannot do
individual, one sign of particularity among other~. The s?clOlogIst IS In t out. The historian quickly becomes aware, too , that this chameleon-
no way hampered by this accommoda~ng s?rt ~f time , which can be cut, time barely adds any extra touch, any spot of color to the catego ries
frozen, set in motion entirely at will. Historical time, I must rep~at, lends ich had been established earlier. In the city that our friend has built,
itself less easily to the supple double action of synchrony and dla~hronr e, th e last to arrive, cohabits quite naturally with all the other
it cannot envisage life as a mechanism that can be stopped .at leisure In ~egories. It fits itself to the dimensions of their homes and their
order to reveal a frozen image. . . , . mands, according to the "levels ," sociabilities, groups, and global
This is a more profound rift than is at first apparent: sociologists time . ies. It is a different way of rewriting the same equations without
\
I cannot be ours. The fundamental structure of our profeSSIOn revolts By chan gin g them. E ~'al ~.ll.~retes its own eqIii;:Ir time , II
against it. Our time, like economists' time, is one of measure. Whe~ a tme .scale like common snails. But what do~e histonans get out of all r
sociologist tells us that a structure breaks down onl.y in o~der ~o b~lld . 'f e vast edifice - is id arCit remains static. IS or IS owhere
itself up afresh , we are happy to accept an explanation. which historical een. 'T he wo;ld'~ time , his~orical time is ther~, but imprisoned, like
observation would confirm an~ay. But we would ':I~h to know ~he s in his goat's skin. It is not history which sociologists, fundamen-
ecise time span of these movenients. whether pOSItive or negative, . nd quite unconsciously, bear a grudge against, but historical
situated alon g the usual axis. An economic cycle , the ebb and flow of f1 which is a reality that retains its violence no matter how one tries
50 Hist ory and the Other Human Sciences 51 Hi story an d the Social Scien ces

to bring it to order and to break it down. It is a constraint from which the p rope r to mak e. Mar x's ge n ius , the secret of his long sway, lies in th e fact I
historian is never free, while sociologists on the other h an d almost always t~at ~e was th e first to co ns truct true social mo dels, on th e basis of a
see m to ma nage to avoid it , by co nce n trating either on the instant, wh ich ~Isto~I~al longue duree, These models have been frozen in all the ir
is always p rese nt as if sus pe nd ed so mewhere above time, or else on slI~pl...cIty by bein g given th e sta tus of laws, of a preordained and au-
re peated phenom ena wh ich d o n ot belong to any age. So they escape th e torn atic explanation, .va~ id in all places a nd to an y society. Wh ereas if
two co ntrad ictory movements of the m ind, confining them with in either th ey were put back within t~e ever-cha ngi ng stream o f time , the y wou ld
the narrowest limits of the event or the most extended longue duri e. I s consta ntly reappear, but WIth cha nges of e m p hasis, so me times over-
suc h an evas ion j ustifiable? T hat is the crux of th e d eb at e betwee n shad owe? , som etimes thrown into relief by th e presence of othe r str uc-
his torians and socio logists, a nd even between histor ia ns__oX_~iffering tures which would th emselves be susce ptible to d efinition by ot her ru les
persuasio?s. and thus by othe r models. In this way, th e crea tive potential of th e most
pow erful social analysis of th e last century has been stymied . It can not
I d o not know whe ther this ra ther excessively cut and d ried article, regain Its youth and vigor excep t in th e longue duree. Sho u ld I ad d that
relyin g overmuch, as hi storians h ave a tendency to d o , on th e use of contempo: ar y. Mar~ism a p pea rs to me to be th e very im age of th e
exam ples, will meet with the agreement of socio logists a nd of our other
ne ighbors. I rather doubt it. Anyway, it is never a good thing, when
dange r. ly~ng In wait for any social science wholl y taken up with th e
model In Its pure sta te, with models for mod els' sake?
I
writing a conclus ion, sim ply to repeat some insis tently recurrent leit- Wh at I wo~l?like to emphasize in conclusion is th at th e longue duree is
mo tif. Should history by its very nature be called upon to p ay special but one POSSIbIlIty of a common language a risin g from a con front ation
atte ntion to the span of time and to all the movements of whic h it may be among the social sciences. There a re others. I h ave indicated
made up , the longue dur ee appears to us , within this array, as the most dequatel y, the experiments being made by th e new social mathem ati cs:
useful line to take toward a way of observing and thinking common to all jf? e new. mat~ematics draws me, but the old mathematics, whose
the social sciences. Is it too much to ask our neighbors that, at some stage tnumph I.S ObVIOUS in economics--perhaps th e most ad vanced of th e
in their reasoning, they might locate their findings and their research uma n ~Clenc~s--does . not ~eser~e to be di smissed with a cyn ical aside.
along this axis? uge calculations await u.s m thi s ~Iassic field , but th ere a re squa d s of
For h istorians, not all of whom would share my views, it would be a aIcul ators and of calculatmg machines read y.too , being rende red daily
case of reversing engines. Their preference goes instinctively toward the et more perfect. I am a. great believer in the usefulness of long se-
sh ort term. It is an attitude aided and abetted by the sacrosanct univer- uences of sta tistics, and m the necessity of ta king calcu lat io ns a nd re -
sity courses. Jean-Paul Sartre, in recent articles;" strengthens their point earch f~rther an~ f~rther b~ck in tim e. T he whole o f the eig h te enth
of view, when he protests against that which is both oversimplified and entury m Europe IS nddled WIth our workings, but th ey cro p up even in
too ponderous in Marxism in the name of the biographical, of the e seventeen th , and even more in th e sixtee nt h ce ntury. Statistics goi ng
teeming reality of events. You have not said everything when you have ack an unb~liev~bly long way reveal th e d epths of th e Chi nese p ast to us
"situated" Flaubert as bou r geois, or Tintoretto as petty bourgeois. I en- rough their u~~ver~allan~age:44 No doubt stati stics sim p lify th e bet-
tirely agree. But in every case a study of the concrete situation-whether to come to grIpSWIth th ei r su bject. But all scie nce is a move me nt from
Flaubert, Va lery, or the foreign policies of the Gironde-ends up by e complex to the .simple.
bringing Sartre back to its deep-seated structural context. His research nd yet, let us not forget one last language, one last fa mily o f models,
moves from the surface to the d epths, and so links up with m y own
oJ" ~reoccupations . It wo uld link u p even better if the hourglass could be
ct : th e necessar~ re.duction of any social reality to th e place in which V
curs. Let u~ call It eIther geograehy or eco logy, witho u t d welling too
t _} turned over both ways--from event to structure, and then from struc- on th ese dlfferen.ces in terminology. Geography too ofte n co nce ives
'Jv- ( e ' / tu re and model back to the event. tself as a world on Its ow n, a nd th at is a pity. It h as need o f a Vid al d e
Marxism is peopled with models. Sar tre would rebel against the rigid- lache ~ho wou ld consider not tim e and place thi s tim e , but place a nd
ity, the sch ematic nature, the insufficiency of the model , i~ the name of re alIty:. I f that happen~d , geograp hical research wou ld pu t the
the particular and the in divi dual. I would rebel with him (with certain oem s of all the human SCIences first on its agenda . For sociolog ists,
sligh t differences in emphasis) not against th e model , though, but at th ey ~ould always admit it to th emselves, th e word ecology is a
aga inst the use which has been made of it, the use which it has been felt f not saymg geography, a nd by th e same to ke n of d odging all th e
52 History and the Other Human Sciences
53 Hist ory and the Social Sciences

problems posed by place and revealed by place to careful observation.


Spatial models are the charts upon which social reality is projected, and "Cycle et structure," Re:me
economique, no. 1 (1952).
through which it may become at least partially clear; they are truly mod- 1 9~8~rnst Robert CUrtIUS, Europa'ische L iteratur und latein isches M ittelalter (Berne,
els for all the different movements of time (and especially for the longue 9. Paris, Albin Michel , 1943; 3d ed ., 1969.
duri ey, and for all the categories of social life . But, amazingly, social
10. "Le mythe de cro isade: Essai de sociologie religieu se " thes is S b
science chooses to ignore them. I have often thought that one of the 11. Pierre Francastel, P einture et societe' Naissance et dest~tion d" 0pr onnle.
French superiorities in the social sciences was precisely that school of tioue de l R . . u n es ace p as-
''1-' a ena tssance au cubisme (Lyon: Audin , 1951).
geography founded by Vidal de la Blache, the betrayal of whose thought of ~~. Other argum~m.s : I would like to suggest th ose forceful art icles which all
and teachings is an inconsolable loss. All the social sciences must make 177 em ~d) vance a strl~lIlar.thesis, such as Otto Brunner's (Historische Zeitshrift , vol.
room "for an increasingly geographical conception of mankind." 45 Thic ,no. . on the socIal hIstory of Europe; R. Bultmann's (ibid. , vol, 176 no 1
is what Vidal de la Blache was asking for as early as 1903. ~~4h u[ ~amsm; Georges Lefeb~re's (~ml~les historiques de la R evolutionfra1l(~ise, .n~:
. 49]) and F. Hartung s (H lStonsc he Z eitschrift vol 180 I)
Itghtened despotism. ' . ,no. , on en-
On the practical level-for this article does have a practical aim-I
would ho pe that the social sciences, at least provisionally, would suspend ~ 3: ~ene Courtin, L a Civilisation economique du Bresil (Paris' Lib " d
Medicis, 1941). . I ra me e
their constant border disputes over what is or is not a social science, what
is or is not a structure.. . Rather let them try to trace those lines across fr;~' ~:f:~~s F;::ce !s con cehrned. In Spain, the demographic decline was visible
o e srxteent century.
our research which if they exist would serve to orient some kind of 15' .~I~ud,e Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, p. 23.
collective research, and make possible the first stages of some sort of 16. DlOgene cou,c~e,': Les Temp s Modernes, no . 195, p. 17. .
coming together. I would personally call such lines mathernatization, a 17. L es Temp s de l histoire (Paris: PIon , 1954), especially p . 298 et se .
concentration on place, the longue duree. . . But I would be very inter- 9~~),Pi :~g:mbart de Lauwe, Paris et l'agglomeratum pa risienne (Paqris : P.U.F.,
ested to know what other specialists would suggest. For it goes without
saying that this article has not been placed under the rubric Debats et 19. Suzann.e Frere and Charles Bette!heim, Une Villef ra1l(aise moyennerA
Combats'" by pure chance. It claims to pose, but not resolve, the obvious ;;5~,. Cah~rs de Sciences Politiques, no . 17 (Pa ris: Armand Colin i95~eTTe
problems to which, unhappily, each one of us , when he ventures out- .. terre . ernent a~d Nelly Xydias , Vienn e su- le-R hOne: Sociolo~ d'une ~ite
side his own specialty, finds himself exposed. These pages are a call to !:Ifa~e, Cahiers des SCIences Politiques, no. 71 (Paris: Armand Co lin 1955)
discussion. 1. SeE~ thde Colloquium on Structures, 6th section of th e Ecole Pra;ique d~s
autes tu es, typed summary, 1958.
2. Quoted by Claude Levi-Strauss, Structural A nthropology vol 1 23
3. It. woul~. be tempt!ng to make room here for the "~od~ls': ~~eat~d by
o~omlsts, w. ich have , m fact , been a source of inspirati on to us.
Notes T he MedIterranean and the M editerranean W orld in the Age 0/Ph ilip II t .
n Reynolds, 2 vols. (New York : Harper & Row, 1972-74) , ra ns.
I . Claude Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, trans. Claire Jacobson and ~. : er nand Braude! and Frank Spooner, Les M elaUX mone~ires et l'econ01nie au
Bro ok e Grundfest Schoepf (London: Allen Lane , The Penguin Press, 1968) , siecle, Rapports au Congres international de Rome 4 (1955) ' 233-64
1:300 and passim. Alexand re Chabert Structure s . h" . .
" , ' ure economique et t eone monetaire Publications du
2. J ean-Paul Sartr e, "Question s de methode," L es T emps M odemes no s. 139 and ntre.d Etudes ~conomiques (Pari s: Armand Colin , 1956) . '
140 (1957). SIgm und DIamond , Th e R eputation ofthe American B usin essma n (Camb id
s.,1955). n ge ,
3. "Europe in 1500 ," "T he World in 1880 ," "Germany on the Eve of the Ref-
o rmation," and so on. See, in particular, Claude Levi-Str au ss Bulletin internationale d .
s UNESCO vol 6 4 d. ' es SCIences
4. Louis Halphen, Introduction a l'histoire (Paris: P.U.F., 1946) , p. 50 . we ~ntitl d Le 'M .~ <~ ~~. , an in ~enera' t~e whole of thi s very int eresting
5. See his Theorie genera le du progres economique, Cahi ers de I'I.S.E .A., 1957. , e s auu:lfInttques et les SCIences sociaies
6. Esquisse du mouuement des prix et des reuenus en France au XVIII' siecle, 2 vols. rrhe Theory 0/ Gam es and Economic B ehavior (P; ince to n 1944) S I h
t bJ ' .eeasote
(Paris: Dallol , 1933). summary .y ean Fourasrie, Critique, no. 5 1 (Octobe r 1951).
7. Considered in Ren e Clemens, Prolegomenes d'une theorie de la structure fAIth' the lofoIlowm g qu ot ations are drawn from his most recent work Struc-
economique (Par is: Domat- Momchrestien , 1952); see also J oh ann Akerman, n ropo gy. '
bid., 1:296.
54 Hist ory and the Other Human Sciences Unity and Diversity
in the Human Sciences
32. Ibid., 1:33.
33.Les Structures elimentaires de La parente (Paris: P.U.F., 1949) . See Structural
Anthropology, 1:36-51.
34 . Structural Anthropology, 1:35 .
35. I am carefu l to say qua lita tive math ematics, according to games strategy.
As far as classic mod els an d th ose used by eco nomists are concerned , a different
so rt of discussion would be calle d for.
36 . Histoire et destin (Paris: Bernar d Grass et, 1943) , p. 169 and passim.
37. R evue de smthese historique (1900), p . 32 . At fir st sight the human scie nc es-at least to anyone wh o h as played
38 . Ernest Labrousse, La Crise economique [ranca ise a la veille de La R evolut ion ho~ever small a part in their development-are str iking not for th eir
[rancaise (Paris: P.U.F., 1944), Int roduction. unity, which is difficult to formulate and to promote , but for th eir lo ng-
39. Dialectioue de La duree, 2d ed., (Paris : P.U.F ., 1950) . standin g , confirmed, fundamental , indeed almost structu ra l diversity.
40 . Gilles Granger, Eoenement et structure dans les sciences de l'homme, Cahiers de he y are first and foremost narrowly themselves, putting th emselves
l'lnstitut de Science Economique Ap pliq uee, Serie M., no . 1, pp . 41-42. orward as so many different countries, so many lan gu ag es, a nd, less
4 1. See my doubtless too po lemical article "Georges Gurvitch et la dis- . stifiably, so many competing race-tracks, each with its own rules, its
continuite du social ," Annales E.S.C. 3 (1953): 347-61. wn scholarly enclosures, its co m mon places com prehe nsible on ly to
42. Cf. Georges Gurvitch , Determin ismes sociaux et liberte huma ine (Paris: P.U .F., tself.
1955) , pp. 38-40 and passim.
43 . Ibid. See also Jean-Paul Sartre, "Fragment d 'un livre a paraitre sur Ie
Of course an im age is not an argument, but it has a way of su bstitu ting
Tintoret,' Les Temp s Modernes . (November 1957).
44. Otto Ber kelbach , Van d er Sprenkel, "Population Statistics of Ming Ch ina ," elf for any true explanation in order to cu r tail difficulties and mask
B.S.O.A.S., 1953; Marianne Rieger, "Zu r Finanz- und Agrargeschichte der Ming :eaknesses. So let us assu me , to be bri ef, th at all th e human sciences a re
Dynastie, 1368-1643," Sinica, 1932. terested in one a nd th e same landscap e: th at of the p ast , present, an d
45. P. Vidal d e la Blache, Revue de synthese historique (1903) , p. 239. uture actions of man . Let us also su p pose th at suc h a landscap e is
46. Well-known rubric of Annales E.S.C. beren t, an assumption wh ich would of cou rse have to be d e mo n-
rated. With regard to thi s panorama , th e human sciences cou ld be see n
being so many observati on points, eac h with its particul ar views, its \ ./
ifferenr perspectives, co lor in g, ch ro nicles. U n ha p pily, the sec tions of
ndscape which each h as cut ou t d o not j oin together , do not refer to
h other , in the way th at the pieces of a ch ild's puzzle demand the
le image and are valid only in relation to that pree stabli sh ed image.
<=: tim e , from each obse rva tio n point, man ap pears diffe rent. And
cb tim e the portion thus di scerned is promot ed to th e sta tus of being
whole landscape, eve n if th e observer is carefu l, and he usu ally is.
\; his own explanations co ntin u ally lead him astray, insidi ou sly, un-
sciou sly. An economist look s at the eco no mic struc tu res a nd imagin es
noneconomic structu re s that su r ro un d th em, su p po rt th em , o r co n-
in them. This might see m perfectly harmless and justifiabl e, but what
eans is that at a stroke he ha s asse mbled th e puzzle to confo rm to his
n ision . The demographe r is no di fferent, claiming th at his cr iteria
can control and exp lain eve ry thing. H e has his ow n cus to ma ry,
Gi nt tests: and these are sufficient for him to gras p man in his e n-
, or at least , to put forward that aspec t of man which he d oes grasp
de l'enseignement supirieure, no. 1 ( 1960). pp . 17-22.