Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse by Robert F. Berkhofer Jr.

By Robert F. Berkhofer Jr.

What makes a narrative, reliable? Is there this sort of factor as a "true tale" (cf. Lucian)? What a few tale approximately actual problems--problems that underlie the discursive models of the day? What makes a narrative quite great--not in basic terms in scope, yet in depths? Berkhofer's quantity ignores those and akin questions. He prefers to roll again into modern "discourse" or groundless (!) speak, as though there have been not anything extra pressing and important--nay, meaningful--for students (including historians) to debate than the skin of actually empty talk--a speak that, doubtless, is of serious curiosity to many, arguably accurately due to its emptiness--of its superficiality, its mildly refined utter loss of depths.

It is valid to suspect that the writer hasn't ever studied (read: taken heavily) any reasoned-out ebook written earlier than the trendy delivery of "Ideology," i.e. the fashionable "politicization" of philosophy. No critical concept is given to the chance that truth isn't really exhausted by means of old (material) appearances. What ancient/classical resources may regard as key to any sturdy history--namely a willing realizing of the permanent/central difficulties of political lifestyles, wearing with it a ability to make superficial concessions to the style or spirit of the times--disappears within the "beyond" welcomed through our writer, a "beyond" choked with potential possible watching for existential Nothingness as their unquestioned, tyrannical finish.

ON METHODOLOGY:
The challenge we're all confronted with--in Berkhofer's company--is that of ends. Berkhofer turns out to imagine that the simplest serious stance rests upon a prejudice opposed to all ends: all ends has to be groundless (i.e. there isn't any finish through nature--hence the "Cartesian" experience of walk in the park that suggests has to be attended to sooner than and independently of ends). Socratic or zEtetic inquiry (openness to truth/reality as a average finish) is neglected in want of a significantly extra stylish discussion open to nowhere. the last word "Great tale" past all not-so-great tales is NIHILISM. the associated fee to be paid for lack of precise greatness (think of Thucydides, for example) is dire.

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One reviewer defends Berkhofer's quantity by means of invoking "the velocity of erudition," which reads as a codeword for "Progress". pink lighting flash for "Grand Narrative" (or "Great Stories").

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This canon probably included Hui-tsung's commentary on the Lao Tzu and some of his liturgical texts. In 1116 the Taoist Lin Ling-su (10761120) was presented at court and was soon directing ritual pageants and giving lectures on the newly revealed scriptures of his Shen-hsiao sect. He identified Hui-tsung as the son of the Jade Emperor and the sovereign of the Divine Empyrean. Hui-tsung's faith in Lin and other Taoist masters led to efforts to curb or transform Buddhism. In order to have Shen-hsiao temples throughout the country, many Buddhist monasteries were forcibly converted to Taoist temples, and their monks urged to become Taoist priests.

Commerce and urbanization had grown spectacularly. Printing had been invented, and the price of books dropped to perhaps one-tenth what it had been. The Confucian classics and the Buddhist and Taoist canons had all been published in their entirety. The size of the educated class had grown manyfold and become more oriented toward civil service examinations. New "sects" of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism had altered the relations among these teachings and their social and political roles. The magnitude of these changes should not so dazzle us that we fail to notice the continuities.

The comparison of these two reigns leaves out much that happened during late T'ang and early Sung, especially the century and more in which military men held center stage and new political institutions were created. Yet it highlights the magnitude of the transformations. The population had doubled. Commerce and urbanization had grown spectacularly. Printing had been invented, and the price of books dropped to perhaps one-tenth what it had been. The Confucian classics and the Buddhist and Taoist canons had all been published in their entirety.

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