History and International Relations

By Thomas W. Smith | Go to book overview

1

INTRODUCTION

Out of our conceptions of the past, we make a future.

Hobbes (1994:32)

"The past," the great skeptic of British philosophy Michael Oakeshott once noted, is "a field in which we exercise our moral and political opinions, like whippets in a meadow on a Sunday afternoon" (Oakeshott 1962:166). Prompted by Oakeshott's critique of history-as-ideology, this study scrutinizes international relations theory and research across the methodological spectrum from classical realism to quantitative and postmodernist work. Perhaps because it is a child of history, international relations, as it has developed, has tried to distance itself from historical discourse, through methodological and theoretical innovations seeking general knowledge about international and global politics. In this flight from the old ways of history, researchers have tended to downplay the historical content of their own work, and, at times, to embrace an easy historical empiricism. This uncritical view of the past has contributed to an often licentious historical method, with history serving less as an independent body of evidence than as a trove to be plundered, and which in the discipline's most scientific work saddles history with more certainty than it can bear.

The historical problem is to some extent inherent in the material. As Hans Morgenthau noted in an opening passage of Politics Among Nations (1948),

The most formidable difficulty facing a scientific inquiry into the nature and ways of international politics is the ambiguity of the material with which the observer has to deal.… The first lesson the student of international politics must learn and never forget is that the complexities of international affairs make simple solutions and trustworthy prophecies impossible. It is here that the scholar and the charlatan part company… In every political situation contradictory tendencies are at play…which tendency actually will prevail is anybody's guess. The best the scholar can do, then, is to trace the different tendencies which, as potentialities, are inherent in a certain international situation.

(Morgenthau 1948:4-6)

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
History and International Relations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Historical Problem in International Relations 7
  • 3 - History, Contingency, and the Roots of Realism 33
  • 4 - History, Analogy, and Policy Realism 61
  • 5 - The Poverty of Ahistoricism 92
  • 6 - "The Importance of Being Scientific" 119
  • 7 - Exit from History? 148
  • 8 - Conclusion 179
  • Notes 191
  • References 196
  • Index 218
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 230

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.