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Saturday, November 12, 2011

I Didn't Say "Fukuyama Is No Historian"...

as one reader claimed I said. I said he is not an historian.  There is quite a difference between the two statements. The first would imply he is trying to do history, but is doing it badly. If we hear a band's drummer struggling through attempting lead vocals on some song, we might say, "Wow, he's no singer!"

The second means that he simply is not engaged in the activity in question. If the drummer never sings at all, we'd say "No, he's not a singer." And it is the second I have been saying about Fukuyama. He is not an historian, and does not claim to be an historian. He is a political theorist, using the output of historians to do political theory. (It's very surprising that someone at GMU should have trouble grasping this point, since that is exactly how Pete Boettke describes his work on the USSR -- he is an economist using the output of historians to do economics.)

And lest anyone still think I am trying to snub Fukuyama in some way here, let me note: I have a book coming out discussing Roman and American history. But I will admit freely that I am not an historian of America or Rome: I am using the work of historians on those times and places to do political theory.

2 comments:

  1. Its going to be annoying for you to correct all the Amazon user reviews saying "great history book" or, if you are unlucky, "bad history book"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Avram, see my most recent post, with your handle in the post title.

    ReplyDelete