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December 2012 issue of History and Theory, Theme Issue: Tradition and History As the New Year kicks off I wanted to send a few words about our final issue of 2012. The December 21012 theme issue on “Tradition and History” is based on presentations from an exchange forum between History and Theory, Wesleyan University, Social Sciences in China Press, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences held in Beijing, October 2011. You can read about the context surrounding the exchange forum and the impact this had on our theme issue in my introduction entitled “The ‘Trojan Horse’ of Tradition” which is available for free download. (http://www.historyandtheory.org/authorpdfs/freearticle.html) The issue begins with Georgia Warnke’s “Solidarity and Tradition in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics” where Warnke argues against the view that Hans-Georg Gadamer’s shift from his focus on tradition in Truth and Method to his focus on solidarity in his later work suggests that the latter signals a move away from ontological toward ethical and political concerns. Instead, Warnke demonstrates that rather than signaling a new direction for Gadamer, both his politics of solidarity and his concern with otherness highlight important features already present in his earlier account of tradition. By paying attention to this earlier account, Warnke discloses a political dimension to Gadamer’s thought that is more sophisticated than his remarks on solidarity. In “The Pragmatic Approach to Tradition in Modernizing China,” Sor-Hoon Tan explores the Confucian veneration of the past and its commitment to transmitting the tradition of the sages by placing it in the context of the historical trajectory from the May Fourth attacks on Confucianism to similar approaches to China’s modernization in later decades, through the market reforms that launched China into global capitalism, and to the revival of Confucianism in recent years. Tan’s article stands in contrast to several papers presented at the exchange by looking to the influence of John Dewey, Hu Shih and pragmatism. Despite a tension between the progress-oriented historical consciousness that Dewey inherited from the Enlightenment (a consciousness that some consider as characteristic of modern Western historiography) and the historical consciousness underlying Chinese historiographical tradition (one that views the past as a didactic “mirror”), Toon argues that it is possible to reconcile the Pragmatic reconstruction of tradition with the Confucian veneration of the past. Jörn Rüsen’s “Tradition: A Principle of Historical Sense-Generation and its Logic and Effect in Historical Culture” uses his presentation of “Historical Sense-Generation” to argue contrary to a constructivist understanding of history where the sense of the past is understood as an ascription of meaning onto the past such that the past itself has no impact on this meaning. Instead, Rüsen asserts that before historians construct the past they themselves are already constructed by the present outcome of past developments in the world. In this sense, tradition is always at work in historical thinking before the past is thematized as history. In “The Evolution of the Russian Tradition of State Power,” Philip Pomper presents an article that holds broad implications for understanding traditions of state power and thus stood as a particularly provocative contribution to our exchange forum. This evolutionary study of the persistence of the autocratic/oligarchic variety of personal rule in Russia is presented in three parts. Pomper first presents a historical overview followed by Edward Keenan’s hypothesis of successful long-term adaptation to a demanding environment and then Richard Hellie’s theory of service-class revolutions and a cyclical pattern based on the methods of Russian elites for overcoming relative backwardness. In the second part, Pomper examines neo-Darwinian evolutionary approaches and in the third part he applies such an approach to the tradition of Russian state power. Pomper shows how group projects operate as evolutionary forces in a variety of modern power systems and the Russian tradition is highlighted in this evolutionary context. John Makeham’s “Disciplining Tradition in Modern China: Two Case Studies” highlights the influential role played by epistemological nativism in the disciplining of tradition in modern China and could be read as a cipher to decode the events of our cultural exchange. In the article, Makeham looks to the two case studies of Chinese philosophy and guoxue or National Studies. In the case of the discipline of Chinese philosophy the role of epistemological nativism is evident in widespread calls to return Chinese philosophy to some pristine form, predating its encounter with “Western” philosophy; and in the continued refusal to acknowledge and engage the intellectual diversity of the traditions that contribute to Chinese philosophy’s composite identity. The second case study examines National Studies’ connection with various traditions of premodern learning and concludes that this revived disciplines is premised on the romantic conceit that these traditions of premodern learning somehow constituted a holistic, even organic, body of learning. These case studies also provide an opportunity for Makeham to reflect on the implications of epistemological nativism for tradition’s place in Chinese modernity. Hangsheng Zheng’s article explores the ways that “tradition” has changed under the conditions of modernity. “On Modernity’s Changes to ‘Tradition’” engages with the history and current state of traditions among Chinese ethnicities to reveals the dynamic but stable essential relationship among old traditions and new traditions, and the reconstruction and neo-construction of tradition. Zheng argues that whereas both the historical nihilism that completely repudiates tradition and the historical conservatism that completely affirms it are one-sided and untrue, his analysis indicates that the modern development of a Chinese nationality is, in some sense, the history of the growth of the modern and the invention of tradition. Finally, in my article “Back to Where We’ve Never Been: Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida on Tradition and History,” I address the topic of “tradition” by exploring the ways that Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jacques Derrida each looked to return to traditional texts in order to overcome a perceived crisis or delimiting fault in the contemporary thought of their respective presents. For Heidegger, this meant a return to the pre-Socratics of “early Greek thinking.” For Levinas, it entailed a return to the sacred Jewish texts of the Talmud. For Derrida, it was the return to texts that embodied the “Western metaphysical tradition,” be it by Plato, Descartes, Rousseau, or Marx. I then ask whether these reflections can be turned so as to shed light on three resilient trends in the practice of history that I will label positivist, speculative or teleological, and constructivist. By correlating the ways that Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida utilize and employ “tradition” with the historical trends of positivism, speculative/teleological history, and constructivism, I hope to produce an engagement between theorists whose concerns implicate history even though they may not be explicitly historical, and historians who may not realize the ways that their work coincides with the claims of these theorists. The issue on ‘Tradition and History” deviates from our initial goal of a volume with an equal distribution of essays provided by Chinese and “Western” contributors reflecting on the topic of “Tradition.” Nevertheless it does reflect a vital component of the exchange forum indicative of those papers that pertain directly to the interests of History and Theory and, not coincidentally I think, papers that generated heated and intense discussion among the participants. What’s more, the issue stands on its own as a series of independent reflections on the topic of “tradition.” I think that the interested reader has much to gain from consideration of each of these articles on its own terms but also in the context of the shifting intellectual and political grounds in which they were formed. Best, Ethan Kleinberg Executive Editor, History and Theory Table of Contents Ethan Kleinberg, Introduction: The “Trojan Horse” of Tradition Georgia Warnke, Solidarity and Tradition in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics Sor-Hoon Tan, The Pragmatic Confucian Approach to Tradition in Modernizing China Jörn Rüsen, Tradition: A Principle of Historical Sense-Generation and Its Logic and Effect in Historical Culture Philip Pomper, The Evolution of the Russian Tradition of State Power John Makeham, Disciplining Tradition in Modern China: Two Case Studies Hangsheng Zheng, On Modernity’s Changes to “Tradition”: A Sociological Perspective Ethan Kleinberg, Back to Where We’ve Never Been: Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida on Tradition and History Click here to read abstracts of the articles in this issue: http://www.historyandtheory.org/archives/archives11.html#dec12 To subscribe to the journal (which you can do entirely over the web with your credit card via Blackwell's secure server), click here: http://www.historyandtheory.org/subscriptions.html (As a subscriber you also get access to the electronic version of the journal. 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