Some afterthoughts on culture and explanation in historical inquiry

  • Lorenz C
  • 16


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 7


    Citations of this article.


I argue here that the articles in this forum contain basic agreements. All three reject naturalism, reductionism, and monism while retaining causality as an explanatory category, and all three emphasize the role of time and argue for a view in which culture is regarded as both structured and contingent. The differences among the explanatory proposals of Hall, Biernacki, and Kane are as important as the similarities: while Hall favors a Weberian approach, Biernacki argues for a primarily pragmatic explanation of culture, and Kane for a primarily semiotic explanation. I argue that all three positions face immanent problems in elucidating the exact nature of cultural explanation. While Hall leaves the problem of "extrinsic" ideal-typical explanation unsolved, Biernacki simply presupposes the superiority of pragmatic over other types of cultural explanation, and Kane does the same for semiotic explanation. Hints at cultural explanation in the form of narrative remain underargued and are built on old ideas of an opposition between "analysis" and "narrative." This is also the case with the latest plea for "analytic narratves." I conclude that a renewed reflection on this opposition is called for in order to come to grips with cultural explanation and to get beyond the old stereotypes regarding the relationship between historical and social-scientific approaches to the past.

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Chris Lorenz

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free