A Geographical Introduction to History

By Lionel Bataillon; Lucien Febvre et al. | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION THE TASK BEFORE US BIOLOGICAL METHODS GEOGRAPHICAL METHODS

WE do not consider that a book such as this needs a long conclusion. It is not a manual, nor a complete study: it is simply a critical discussion, which has tried to come to a conclusion at every stage, and any summing-up would be vain repetition.

Before bidding farewell to our readers, however, it may not be out of place to recur to one point in order to answer certain possible objections. Every critical work exposes its author to a double suspicion--that he creates the trouble for the pleasure of denouncing it, and that he only supplies a sterile and confusing negation. We think we have deserved neither of these reproaches.

*

* *

It may be objected that all this talk about geographical determinism is a windmill which is being mistaken for an army, and that no one believes in it or talks about it nowadays. Various books will be quoted, all correct and irreproachable, and all containing a condemnation of a blind and strict determinism. No doubt. But let us always remember that passage from Ratzel which we quoted almost at the beginning of our book; and Ratzel is no insignificant new-comer. Quite recently certain French geographers pushed him to the front with the greatest goodwill--for reasons which we need not inquire into here. It is worth while to repeat once more that sentence about the soil which, "always the same, and always situated at the same point in space, serves as a fixed support to the changing aspirations of men." This it is, says Ratzel, "which governs the destinies of peoples with blind brutality"; which, when they happen "to forget what

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