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Understanding Narrative Theory Author(s): L. B. Cebik Source: History and Theory, Vol. 25, No. 4, Beiheft 25: Knowing and Telling History: The Anglo-Saxon Debate (Dec., 1986), pp. 58-81 Published by: Blackwell Publishing for Wesleyan University Stable URL: Accessed: 16/12/2010 12:17
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L. B. CEBIK Does the Eagle know what is in the pit? Or wilt thou go ask the Mole? William Blake

investigajust as surelyas do historical theoriesemergefrominquiries Narrative that we attendto theory requires a particular understanding tions. Therefore, Expressedanotherway,we cannot fully apthe questionsit puts to narrative. its purpose. theory unless we also appreciate preciatethe termsof a narrative function:to serve historywitha singular modelsprovided covering-law Hempel's sketches)of crucialevents.HaydenWhite'spivas explanations (or explanation as a literaryentity supportthe values (and otal studiesof historicalnarrative developsnarmimeticdialectic functions.Ricoeur's creative of history's dangers) rative'sfunction to configuretime in human experience. - in some cases, However,all of these (and other) theories are incomplete in the interests of literary Whitewouldleave criticism, so. Forexample, justifiably with of a givenkindof discourse, "thequestionof the veracity to epistemologists of whichit speaks."'Likewise,in their concentrarespectto the 'object-world' largelyignoredeverything function,Hempelians tion uponhistory's explanatory that they could not translatewith ease or by force into in historicalnarrative ground Wehavemadesomerecentinroadsinto the connecting causalstatements. Nonetheless,we must also record betweenthese seeminglypolar perspectives. that remain:the denigrationof epistemologyand its intwo majordifficulties viewof whata theoryof narterestsandthe failureto developa comprehensive rativeshould contain in its finishedstate. task seemsinnocentenough, it AlthoughWhite'sremarkon epistemology's reflectsa moregeneralview that epistemologydeserveslittle place withinconcritheory.Ricoeurechoesthis idea,despitehis appreciative narrative temporary such workas In characterizing analysesof narrative. tique of Anglo-American first of the historicalsciences,he absorbswhathe callsWhite's the epistemology the settingasideof methodsin whichobjectivityand proof depresupposition, terminethe criteriafor classifyingmodes of discourse. Whiteand Ricoeurfall into this sharedviewby equatingquestionsof objectivityand proof with ques1. H. White, "Comment on Robert Anchor 'Narrativeand the Transformation of Historical Consciousness,"' 2, presented at the History and Theory conference on narrative, August, 1985, Bad Homburg. 2. P. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative (Chicago, 1984), I, 161.



- by virtue tions on the methodsof science,but also- and morefundamentally if not of historicalnarreferential viewof historicalstatements, of an uncritical Whitecan set asidesuchquestions,Ricoeurmustembrace rativeitself. Whereas time and in and refigured configured, themin his triplemimesesof prefigured, his analogicalsolution to the question of historicalreality. analysismiscontheory and phenomenological In short, currentnarrativist to narrative theoryby focusingupon one sort relationship strueepistemology's covering-law epistemology(and most countertheory.In rejecting of epistemic in which concerns moregeneral theyignoreepistemology's versions), covering-law not beginas problemata, proof, and reference objectivity, science,explanation, function to In addition,they fail to notice epistemology's as presuppositions. regulative whattheoriesmayand mustcontain.If we ignorehistory's formulate weanalyze theterm)andto beingbound to tellingthetruth(however commitment withinthe limits of reliableevidence,then of coursehistorybecomesno more If the ratherthan being a disciplinedinvestigation. than a variantof literature evidence to determinable andcolligations constructions of historical relationship ideas must and publicdebateis not to disappearinto shadow,such theoretical histories. of the foundations results and justified the creative illumine equally creationitself musteitherfold backupon basicconceptualstrucAnd narrative turesor be left floatingamid merelyaestheticclouds. If fictionand art at their the world andconceive us to alterthe waysin whichweperceive bestcanpersuade aroundus, they have epistemicdimensions. untilit grapples incomplete andremains dimensions Every theoryhasepistemic fully this fact in payingattenwith them. Wehaveperhapsfailedto appreciate in partialtheories.Thus,amidthe seeming tion only to particular developments at the expenseof otherapcrisisoccasionedby the rapidspreadof narrativism the time may be ripe for some metatheoretica-l--ruminaproachesto narrative, history'scognitive tions. For more is at stake than a debatebetweennarrative techniques.At stakeis an and its rhetoricalforceand persuasive respectability itself. However, beinga secondstep theorization of philosophical understanding will inevitably put awayfromthe doingand writingof historyitself, metatheory off practicingand teachinghistorians,even though it should not do so. Such too far to reworkmay also offendcertaintheoristswho havealreadytraveled foraypalebeside traceeasilyanyof theirsteps.Yet,the risksof a metatheoretical theory if we continueto refusethe of narrative the cost to our understanding venture. Letus examineseverallevelsof theoryto see whattheorizingitself mightdeto the extentthat theory.The resultswill be instructive mand of any narrative of most extanttheories.Indeed,any comprehentheyrevealthe incompleteness elements andthe creative both thejustificational sivetheorymustaccommodate upon the finished and reflection of narrative, the activitiesleadingto narrative, we maytakeas a guidingprinciple In distinguishing levelsof narrative, narrative. them at a moreadour abilityto pose questionsat a lowerleveland to reframe beingthe case.Thus,we maypose the question vancedlevelwithoutthe reverse upof truth(in some properform)at all levelsfrom the languageof narratives



ward.In contrast,to ask the consequences of narratives havinga centralsubject makessensein termsof narrative objects,but not necessarily below that level. four levelsof theory:1. narrative Weshallinvestigate discourseand temporal language,2. narrative and historicalconstructions,3. narrative objects or stofunctionsand purposes.Withina contextof justification, ries,and 4. narrative levelpresupposes the preceding. Froma creative, each successive active,or criticalperspective, however, we wouldnecessarily startat the highestlevelandsearch the lowerfor tools, techniques, andlimitations. Theboundaries wedrawbetween levelsarelargelyheuristic, servingto focus our attentionratherthanto separate absolutelythe facets of historical-narrative theory.This fact will become eminently clear when we take up narrative constructions.

SinceHempelbroachedthe questionof narrative's explanatory function,most theorieshavebeguntheirstudiesat the level of narrative objects,that is, histories,novels,journalisticreports,and the like. Regardless of theoretical commitments,the typicalaccountproceedsfromthe objectin two directions. Onedirection leadstowardthe structural partsof the object. The other leads towardthe object'sfunction.Together, theseelementsconstitutea theoretical accountthat must be consistentwith the genus into which the theoristplaces the object. If we subsumehistoricalnarrative underthe genus "explanation," then our theoriestake a particular form. In exploringhistory'sfunctionto explainor to be a formof explanation(as for Louchor Danto), we must highlightjust those featuresof narrative that enablethe function.3Wemight (withMortonWhite) in historicalnarrative, the causalstatements emphasize findingthereinwhatdistinguishes historiesfromchronicles.4 Or (withStover),we maydenyto narrative an inherent"fundamental schemeof intelligibility" of its own and consignnarrativeto the class of forms that expressdetermining conditions.5 By contrast, if we categorizehistoricalnarrative as principallya form of literature, then a mosaicemerges. Withall greatliterature, different history(so saysHaydenWhite) imbueseventswith meaningor significance, emplottingmereeventsinto trageto this functionarethe elementsof storytelling, the dies, farces,et al. Structural itself.6 eventsandcharacters of storybooks andthe tropesof storytelling language - thefinished Tobeginwithnarrative objects stories thatmarkthehighest refine- holds danger.It can lead to an academic ment of our narrative competence to mereprefigured who relegates timethe narrativeelitism,as it does for Ricoeur, linguisticabilitieswe all shareapartfromanytalentfor creatingor perceptively
3. A. R. Louch, "History as Narrative,"History and Theory 8 (1969), 58; A. C. Danto, Analytical Philosophy of History (Cambridge, Eng., 1965), 142. 4. M. White, The Foundations of Historical Knowledge (New York, 1965), 222-223. 5. R. C. Stover, The Nature of Historical Thinking (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1967), 70. 6. See H. White, "The Historical Text as Literary Artifact," in The Writing of History, ed. R. H. Canary and H. Kozicki (Madison, Wisc., 1978), 51ff. Cf. White's Metahistory and the essays in Tropics of Discourse.



followingsophisticated histories,novels,or epics that properlyconfiguretime its refiguring in us.7 Tobeginwithobjectsandthe associated for us andinfluence activitiesof production (whichseemeverto dominatethe activitiesof following or using the object-a Romantichangover)without some vestedinterestmay not be possible.HaydenWhiteandhis narrativist followersseemunableto theorize at all withoutsome few wordsin behalf of the humanitiesas distinctfrom of power.Somethe sciences or someotherwordsof worryaboutthe deployment times they are the same words.8 theoriesbeginwith narrative Althoughmost narrative objects,narrative logiof languageitself. (Where callyoriginates withinthe possibilities narrative originatedhistorically, we cannotsaywithanyassurance, sinceeventhe most ancient recordedsourcesgive us all levels of narrative.) Danto demonstrated long ago the originative potentialwithinlanguagein his analysisof past-referring terms His most strikingdemonstration the classof narandtensedsentences. involved rativesentenceswhich"refer to at least two time separated events,and describe the earlierevent,"thus allowingsubsequent speakersto asserttrulywhat some historicalactorscould not themselvesassert.Sincewe may use any such possifromthe formalities of stories, bilitywithinconversational contextsfarremoved that histories,or similarobjects,we cannot plausiblyclaim them as structures occur only within those objects.9 Dray,Fain, and others have shown some of the possibilitiesfor narrativewithinlanguage.Doing A leadsto B, whichcausesC, structures organizational
and C - along with D, E, and F - amount to G.... 10Stringing these possibilities

together,with attentionto both temporaland contentlinkages,showshow one accountwithoutnecessaryrecourse to mightbuild a narrative (or narrativistic) formalstory structures (for example,to beginningsand endings,characterization, or evenfactualplausibility). Yet,withoutsuchelements,formalstoriesand would not be possible. historicalnarratives in whollynonnarrative Wemayalso usethesepossibilities ways.In this regard, we shouldnot confusecontextsof theiruse with contextsof theirjustification. To say, "Motheris preparing dinner"(a projectverb in Danto'sterms)entails no narrative." However, some formsof justificationfor such a statement,such of sorts. Equally as a step-by-step reportof her actions,mightyield a narrative justifyingthe assertionwouldbe a glanceinto the kitchenby eventhe most ordiwe need not use the sentence nary membersof this sort of society.Moreover, in questionfor anyof the purposesrecognized as belongingto narrative objects. The statement might functionas an answerto a questionsuch as "Whatis she not to disturbher or a suggestionfor one to set the table doing?"or a reminder

7. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, I, 54-64. 8. See, e.g., R. Anchor, "Narrativity and the Transformation of Historical Consciousness," 3-5, presented at the 1985 History and Theory conference on narrative. 9. Danto, Analytical Philosophy of History, 72-75, 156-165. 10. See my Concepts, Events, and History (Washington, D.C., 1978), 175 and associated notes. 11. Danto, Analytical Philosophy of History, 164-166.



for dinner?" All of thesehumanactivities or the occasionfor one to ask"What's call for narrative discourse,but not for formal narrative objects. Narrative discoursedoes not standalone withoutregardfor and relationship discourse.In context, everynarrative-organizational to nonnarrative structure nonnarrative at Appomattox" or asserts statements. "Lee surrendered presupposes was somethingpossible for Lee to do, presupposes (in part)that surrendering that Appomattoxwas a that Lee was a person-one capableof surrendering, place-and one possiblefor Lee'ssurrender. Thusdo the presuppositions range in eventhe leastextended matters. overbothfactualandconceptual Additionally, narrative structures mustbe consistentwith noncontextof narrative discourse, narrative assertions andwithothernarrative-organizational structures comprising
the context. 12

Narrative discourseor languageis at once a set of necessaryconditionsfor narrative objectsand also a set of independent possibilitiesfor framingnarraassertionsin a myriadof othercontexts.At just this leveloccur tivelyorganized theoristshavenotedwithinthe formaldisciplineof hismanyof the phenomena nartory.Goldstein's past constitutions,Walsh'scolligations,and Ankersmit's rativeproposals,along withthe rationaldisputability of almostanygivenorganization,can all occur at the conceptual-sentential levelsof languagewithout context. Thus, theory requires regardto a specificallynarrative by one means or anotherthe abilityto distinguishbetweenwhat demarcates certainuses of certainuses of things built from language. languageand what demarcates Onceit was popularto claimthat all languageis metaphor,withthe possible that some metaphors arealive,othersdead. Morerecently, we find qualification narrativist theory opting to treat all event reportsas "already interpreted" (as 13 Withoutregard for Becker). to the truthor falsityof such a claim, it certainly makessense,at least withina theoretical contextthatbeginswitha recognizable narrative text. However,we must use carenot to importsuch theory-laden notions to the everyday worldwhereinwe speakeverso sensiblyof literal(as opstatementsand of data or fact priorto interpretation. Deposed to figurative) nied these distinctions,many ordinaryactivities -for example,law or police work-would eithercease or reinvent the distinctionsin other words.In these mundanecontexts,such distinctionsare-as Waters noted of anothermatter unless pragmatic, then surelyPickwickian.14 Theoriesbased upon certainfeaturesof narrative objects cannot wholly set asidethe questionof whetherindividualstatements aretrueor false,evenif prirestsupon patterns of meaningfulness a writercreates.At the level maryinterest of narrative the truthor falsityof variousstatements discourse, establishing re12. Oddly, some theorists (e.g., Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, 149-150) leap over such matters in their attempt to get from narrativesentences to emplotment, following stories, and formal narrative texts. Perhaps it is only Ricoeur's preoccupation with time that leads him to overlook the significance of content relationships in and among narrative statements. 13. C. L. Becker, "What are Historical Facts?" in The Philosophy of History in Our Time, ed. H. Meyerhoff (New York, 1959), 120-137. 14. B. Waters, "Historical Narrative," Southern Journal of Philosophy 5 (1967), 214.



is preparing vealssome interesting features.If the claimin questionis "Mother dinner," we may establishthe claim as true by watchingMom in the kitchen, askingherwhat she is doing, or just smellingthe householdair.Wemay establish the claim'sfalsenessin equallynumerousways,as by learningthat she has that Dad is doing the work, or by hearingher answer finished,by discovering for truthand for falsityarenot coterour questionwith a "No."The desiderata Sometimes minalevenin so simplean everyday situationas dinnerpreparation. of we cannotwith assurance establisheithertruthor falsity.The indecisiveness facts (we saw pots on the stove, the situationmay stem eitherfrom insufficient but not Mom) or from doubts overthe scope of the key term of our question (everything looked ready,but Mom stayedin the kitchenmakingno move to set out the food). Questionsof truth and falsity arise within contextsof justification.In such contexts,we call for the evidencesupportingour statements.Danto has distinguished between factual and conceptual evidence, the former seeming selfthe latterresting conceptual implications, explanatory, uponlogicalconnections, andwhatis typical."5Forexample,a diaryentrymightread,"Itis 6 P.M.Mother is preparing dinner." Askedfor a justification, sincethe writeris far fromhome, the diaristmaynote that Motheralwaysprepares dinnerat that hour,or he/she mightreporton a 6 p.m. telephonecall. History,Danto notes, uses a combination of factualandconceptualevidence,whereas fiction"requires solelyconceptual evidence."16Notably,both bodies of evidenceconsist of true statements. At the levelof narrative discourse, we maybetterspeakof fact or fictionthan of historyor fiction.Nonetheless,at whatever level,the distinctiondoes not ordiscoursehas dinarilylabel what level of justificationa segmentof narrative passed. Instead,it indicateswhat sort of justificationwe shall demandof the if the demandbecomesrelevant Withformalobjects, discourse, and appropriate. such as novels and histories,the producersoften tell us how to treat them.17 sentences arelessself-certifying, andwe oftenmakethe wrongdemands Everyday upon them. findtheirwayintohistorical narratives, andwe should Theseeveryday situations not overlookPassmore's among importantsuggestionsabout the relationships to science,history,and everyday life, even if he originallyconfinedhis remarks 18 Undergirding theory(or explanation theory)must explanations. everynarrative for the acceptability of truthandrelebe, in Gorman's terms,a rationalstandard and of organizavanceclaims,consistingof a theoryof meaning,of grammar, - a theory of language.19 tion of "theworld,"or- more succinctly At present,
15. Danto, Analytical Philosophy of History, 122-128. See my Fictional Narrative and Truth (Washington, D.C., 1984), Chapter 7, for an analysis of the typical. 16.. Danto, Analytical Philosophy of History, 123. 17. See Fictional Narrative and Truth, Chapter 3. 18. J. Passmore, "Explanation in Everyday Life, in Science, and in History,"in Studies in the Philosophy of History, ed. G. Nadel (New York, 1965), 16-34. 19. J. L. Gorman, The Expression of Historical Knowledge (Edinburgh, 1982), 105. Whether we require a metaphysical conception as well we here leave moot.



perhapsonly three main lines of languagetheory inform currenttheories of narrative. By the weightof two millenniaof tradition,Aristotelian viewsof language - still predominate. severely modernized Restingupon the relationship of terms to their referents,such theoriesgive rise to correspondence and semantictheories of truth and consequentproblemswith past reference. Secondarilyarise questionsof history's to science.Whether or not this body of theory relationship can long sustainitself in the face of popularnew ideas concerninghumanlanguage activityis uncertain.However,as McCullaghhas shown, such a view of languagedoes not necessarily commitus to positivisticconsequences when we analyze historicaldescriptions.20 A second theory discardsnamingand reference as primitivesfor a criterial accountof language looselybaseduponthe workof Wittgenstein. Finding criteria of warranted assertion especially aptto eventlanguage, this viewneitherimports into assertionsthat eventsoccurrednor reifieseventsthemobjects necessarily selves.Withinsuch a theory,the truthof statements takeson pragmatic dimensionsinherent in Kuhnian It thusimmunizes andin ordinary paradigms discourse. suchas colligation,fromonslaughts manyformulations, of traditional epistemic distinctions among knowing, believing, and the truth of event assertions.21 Nonetheless,the criterial theoryhas yet to gain wide acceptance and use in narrativetheory,eventhough such a view of languagewould obviatethe problem of historicalreference to whichWhiteand Ricoeurhavemade the most recent contributionsin a vain effortto set it aside. on English-speaking Mostrecently soil hasarisena commitment by narrativists to versionsof linguistics to Saussure and Jakobson.Relatingsignifiers traceable to signifieds in a pool of languagewhosereferential sourcewe can postulatebut neverdetermine, the theoryallowsus to eschewtruthas correspondence for eddies of meaning.The only truthrelevant to narrative lies in coherence, although the scopeandimportance of thatnotionremain underanalysis.Narrativists have thetheoryin anysignificant detailin relationship to the epistemics yetto formulate of narratives. Instead,like HaydenWhite,they use the theoryto justify giving attention to the literary, principal of narrative.22 meaning-giving dimensions Thus, the narrativists attendto the rhetoricof historicalnarrative ratherthan to its epistemicfoundations.As a result,one cannot say with certaintywhat drives such termsas metaphor,emplotment,argument,or ideologicalimplicationin White'stheory:discourseitself or the functionalobjects we createout of language,suchas stories,poems,reports,andhistories.Onemustwonder,however, to whatdegreesuchuncertainties stemfromsimpleincompleteness andto what degreethey restupon a willful refusalto deal with both the contextof creation and the context of justification.
20. See C. B. McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions (Cambridge, Eng., 1984), especially Chapters 3 through 5. 21. See J. W. Meiland, Scepticism and Historical Knowledge (New York, 1965), 41ff. 22. See, for example, H. White, "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality," in On Narrative, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago, 1981), 3f., 15ff.



- narrative - and of eviand nonnarrative Out of the possibilitiesof discourse construct. Theoriesof narrative construction haverangedfrom dence,historians establishment of historicalidentifications to narratios the mostly nonnarrative At leastpartof Walsh's (to use a termfromAnkersmit). formulation of colligaand Mink's tion, Dray's"explaining 'what,"' synopticjudgmentsbelongto this has defended"arguments aspectof narrative theory.Morerecently, McCullagh from criteria" as one of severalmodes of justifyingsingularhistoricaldescriptions. In the faceof all thesedevelopments, criticspersistin refusing to historical narratives its constructions. in any form in historyhas traditionally Constructivism attachedto a certain metaphysical thesis, namely,that historydoes not recordthe past, referto it, represent it, or recapture it. Rather,historycreatesthe past by constructing it. Whatever the meritsof this position,its generalrejection has stigmatized almost all attempts to findsomeplaceforhistorical andnarrative constructions, whatever the claimedrelianceupon evidence.Only now has sufficientwork emergedto begin understanding the places of constructionin historywithoutthreatening the discipline's justificationalfoundation. At perhapsthe most rudimentary levelarewhatMcCullagh termsarguments fromcriteria.Statements or assertactionsrehistoriansmakethat characterize to the best explanation,but only justificationin termsof quireno arguments the behavioral criteriathat warrant their assertion.Historians,of course,need cite suchjustifyingmaterialonly wherethey needto argueor wheresuch material may serveother functions as well. Essentialto the assertionare the rules of language,the linguisticconventionsby which any such assertion,presentor The evidencefor the truthof such assertionsis just the past, achieveswarrant. no special evidencefor the factualness of the criterial elements.Thus,we require or evenemotionalstates.23 formulaefor assertionsof intentions,consequences, Criterial analysismakeseachassertiona constructwhenviewedfromthe perspectiveof its justification.Indeed,if one takesa broaderviewof eventand action languageas criterially(ratherthan referentially) based, then virtuallyall discourse has a constructivecharacter.Discourse does not lose its truthsince one may set truthconditionsat the propositionallevelin functionalness, termsof satisfyingsome criteriaset relevantto the eventor action. Ordinarily we discourse;only occasionallymust we justify our assertions.However,just suchcasesattract conthe mostattention,especially thosein whichwe encounter testingcriteria sets(suchas Gallie'sessentially contestedconcepts)or an original for a moreaptcriteria set.Theconstructive'nature of criterial conceptual proposal justificationcomes to light in such situations,especiallyto the degreethat the termsof disputemay concerna proposal'sconsequencesor utility ratherthan in terms of preexisting its correctness conventions.24

23. McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions, 78-85. 24. For a more complete account, see Concepts, Events, and History, Chapters I through III.



Related to thesenotions,but moredistinctlyhistoricalfroma methodological hiswhichhe calls the "constituted constructions, pointof view,areGoldstein's activityfor establishing as the paradigmatic perception toricalpast."Rejecting
true historical assertions, he examines "those intellectual . . . activities in terms

cometo havesomeideaof whatwemayhavereasonto believe of whichhistorians is not for Goldsteinthe generhistorical constitution oncetranspired." However, products,but ratherresidesin those partsof historythat reation of narrative veal historical thinking about historical evidence leading to historical

logic of historicalconstitutionbeginswith the body of historical Goldstein's to evidencethat presentsthe historianwith a questionof what it is reasonable conevidenceandthe prevailing Withinthe limitsof available believehappened. the historianby trial and errorproposesan orderingof ceptionof plausibility, has remarked, of whatoccurred. As Collingwood the evidencethatis persuasive what reallyhappened, "thegameis won not by the playerwho can reconstitute but by the playerwho can showthat his viewof whathappenedis the one which the evidenceaccessibleto all players,whencriticizedup to the hilt, supports."26 Collingwoodhimself once began with a puzzlingtombstonein Silchesterand reasonedto the existenceof an Irishcolony in the locale. Indeed,Collingwood of constitutive reasoning, in hisownformulations thanGoldstein wasmoreexplicit evidencewith the questionat relicsfrom evidence,interrelating distinguishing hand, and rejectingboth fixeddata and fixedprinciplesof evidence.The pragof historical callsuponthe entirerangeof human inquiry potentially maticnature knowledge, but activatesonly those partsof it that contributeto the question posed,whichmustin turnrelateto and emergefrompreviousthoughtand have Whenwelldone,the activityprovidesan answer good reasonfor beingposed.27 of whathappened. As Goldsteinintentionally to the questionposed,a statement the matter,Collingwoodhad no interestin the Irishcolony "untilhe overstates to account for the tombstone.28 had virtuallyto call it into existence" is clear to of historicalconstitutionto criterialarguments The resemblance However, the extentthatbothmayassertevents,actions,or humanproductions. betweenthe two types of construction. thereare at least two majordifferences whichsatisfies presume accessto the material arguments generally First,criterial set. By of a relevant criteria for that instantiation demand is, justification, any contrast,constitutivereasoningmay involvecomplexcases that do not satisfy of interpretajustification.Subtlemeanderings any modelsof straightforward

25. L. J. Goldstein, "Towarda Logic of Historical Constitution," in Epistemology, Methodology, and the Social Sciences, ed. R. S. Cohen and M. W. Wartofsky (Amsterdam, 1983), 19, 21, 29. 26. Quoted in Goldstein, "Towarda Logic of Historical Constitution," 47-48; see also Goldstein's "Collingwoodon the Constitution of the HistoricalPast,"in CriticalEssays on the Philosophy of R. G. Collingwood, ed. M. Krausz (Oxford, 1972), 257-266, and Historical Knowing (Austin, 1976), especially Section V of Chapter 3, 82-91. Cf. R. G. Collingwood, "The Limits of Historical Knowledge," in Essays in the Philosophy of History, ed. W. Debbins (New York, 1965), 90-103. 27. See "Collingwood:Action, Re-enactment,and Evidence,"Philosophical Forum 2 (1970), 68-90. 28. Goldstein, "Collingwood and the Constitution of the Historical Past," 265.



but reader,and the resultmay lack firmwarrant, tion mayeludethe untrained are largelylinSecond, criterialarguments haveonly the greatestplausibility. is distinctively historical: whereas constitutive reasoning guisticor conventional, only hold, of course, distinctions based.These andmethodologically disciplined if we assumefixedand firmlinguisticconventionsand equallyfixed historical of the assumptionsuggeststhat at some borderbemethods.The dubiousness and constitutivereasoning,the two may meld into a arguments tweencriterial largerpatternof historicalconstructions. concepis the notion of "colligation underappropriate Moreencompassing in distinctlyhistoricalcontexts but firstemployed fromWhewell, tions,"derived the ideashowsmuch by Dray,Levich,and McCullagh, by Walsh.Supplemented and even (in promiseas an accountof certainformsof historicalinterpretation conin whichthe historian's Mink'sview)as a mode of historicalunderstanding The orderof conceptsWalshproposes clusionsanddetailsremaininseparable.29 the fix includessuchthingsas "anewrenaissance, and upon whichmost writers andsimilar shiftof allegiance," of a freshsocialhierarchy, a widespread emergence Walshnotesthatevery andspatial"spread." havingtemporal complex particulars the pastor make act of colligationmustdo justiceto the evidenceandilluminate it intelligible.30 Colligationis not solely an act of classification,althoughWalsh'sexamples discernAs Draynotes,the historian's to suchan interpretation. lendthemselves social mentof a certainunityin his materialoften eludescaptureby the current coinages.Moreshown thus forcingnewand sometimesmetaphoric vocabulary, in the handsof than defined,the criteriafor a coinage-perhaps "renaissance" like the Michelet- establishthe possibilityof furtheruse for cases sufficiently original.Both Drayand Walshagreethat colligatoryconceptsmaybe distinctly to entitiesthat makepast actionsand eventsintelligible historical,constituting us by showingthe generalnatureof the changesbroughtaboutwithoutreference these"formal" to the motivesand aimsof the agents.31 distinguishes McCullagh conceptswhichdesignatewholes decolligatoryconceptsfrom "dispositional" pendentupon the sharedideas of agents.32 conceptionsbearsstrong It is no accidentthat colligationunderappropriate Onemight constructions. arguments andto historical to bothcriterial resemblance well arguethat colligation under ordinaryor acceptedconcepts corresponds directlyto an ordinaryeventassertion,whereasthe coinage that Drayempha29. See W. H. Walsh, An Introduction to Philosophy of History (London, 1958), 60-62, and "Colligatory Concepts in History,"in The Philosophy of History, ed. P. Gardiner(London, 1974), 127-144; W. H. Dray, "Explaining 'What' in History," in Theories of History, ed. P. Gardiner (New York, 1959), 403-408, and "Colligation Under Appropriate Conceptions," in Substance and Form in History, ed. L. Pompa and W. Dray (Edinburgh, 1981), 156-170; M. Levich, review of Philosophy and History, ed. S. Hook, History and Theory 4 (1965), 328-349; and L. 0. Mink, "The Autonomy of Historical Understanding," in Philosophical Analysis and History, ed. W. Dray (New York, 1966), 180-181. 30. Walsh, "Colligatory Concepts in History," 139-142. 31. Dray, "Colligation Under Appropriate Conceptions," 165, 167-168.

32. McCullagh, JustifyingHistoricalDescriptions,272ff.



Walsh's insistence that all colsizesrepresents a conceptual proposal.Moreover, ligationsrestupon evidencereflects the methodological elementscrucialto hisWherethe accountsdifferlies chieflyin the scope of the toricalconstructions. to humanactions,whereas formulations. McCullagh appliescriterial arguments of colligationfocusupon largerscalesocialchangesor movements. proponents Thissamefocusdifferentiates colligations fromthe rangeof identifications Goldstein takes to be the subjectof constitutingthe past. Whetherthese represent of degreeor of kindhas yet to be established, differences sincea comprehensive theory of historical-narrative constructionremainsa futuretask. The similarities amongthe threeconstructive notionsgivethem equalfittingnessto Mink'snotionof "synoptic judgment," the act of "seeing thingstogether." Minkattempts to showthatthe uniqueness of doinghistorylies not in its subject matteror method, but in a kind of judgmentthat is not, however,limitedto understanding past events.Rather,synopticjudgmentcharacterizes many endeavors, suchas literary Nor criticism, clinicalpsychology, andgroupleadership. is temporal order the"essence" of suchjudgments, sincejudgment organizes rather thanselectsevents.Finally,synopticjudgmentis no substitute for methodology; that is, the historiancannotneglectthe need that everyassertionbe justifiable accordingto evidenceof the appropriate sort.33 All of the constructions we havenoted so far may occur outsidethe context of an identifiable narrative object, such as a volumeof historyor a novel. To the degreethattheoristshaveinsisted- withoutregard to level- upon methodologicaljustification of the construction, thenno activeconstruction couldoccur withina fictionalnarrative, althougha novelistmightuse an alreadyextantconstruction.Moreover, the threelevelsof construction mightwelloccurwithinan historicalnarrative, but as only part of the narrative. To represent the "historiographical narrative representation of the past"achievedby an entirenarrative, Ankersmit has proposedthe term"narratio," whichconsistsof the sentencesof the narrative but is neitheridenticalto themnor identicalto theirconjunction.34 Thesentences, besidesfunctioning normally as confirmable statements, also constitutethe properties of a narrative substance, a complexstructure with its components of historicalresearch and its view of the past. What a given narratio is often defiesprecisearticulation.35 Mink has noted that articulated historical conclusionsat bestremind us of the topography of the eventsto whichthe narrative has givenorder,a positionDrayaffirmed by suggesting that a narrative history mayconstitutewithoutlabelor summary a justifiable orderingof events.36 Using Ankersmit's figures,like binocularlenses, narratiosfocus and guide our viewof events,creating "apointof viewfromwhichweareinvited to see reality."37 As things,narratios areneithertruenor false.Rather, theyareproposals. They
33. Mink, "The Autonomy of Historical Understanding," 186-191. 34. F. R. Ankersmit, Narrative Logic (The Hague, 1983), 19, 59. 35. Ibid., 101-103. 36. Mink, "The Autonomy of Historical Understanding," 181; Dray, "The Nature and Role of Narrative in Historiography,"History and Theory 10 (1971), 169-170. 37. Ankersmit, Narrative Logic, 139.



functionmuchlikethe proposalfacetsof the otherconstructions we haveexamined. Theyaresubjectto acceptance or rejection,but not withouta basis in rationaldisputation. AlthoughAnkersmit selectsas his unitof studythe historical narrative, nothingin principle prevents application of the keyideasto otherforms based forms of narrative. of factualor evidentially Indeed,court proceedings often treat a newsreport(or a againstjournalistsfor defamationof character thanexamining certain linesalone,as might collectionof them)as a whole,rather be the casein a libelsuit. The narratio defames,not its individualsentences(exin lesser cept in rare,simplisticinstances).Likewise,we may discovernarratios within largerworks.Thus, the idea of a narratiomay have units of narrative widerapplicationsthan Ankersmitoriginallyenvisionedfor it. All the formsof narrative will normallyoccur construction we haveexamined withinnarrative objects of recognizedsorts. However,they logicallyneed not. Consequently, wecannotsubjectnarrative constructions to rulesthatobtainonly on the levelof narrative objects.If storiesmusthaveopeningsand closings,narrativeformsof historicalconstructions need not, eventhoughall constructions willhavelimits.Thelimitsof constructions arenot necessarily temporal, whether we speak chronologically or narratively. In fact, the key figureswe encounter in theoriesof constructionsspeak of perspectives, topography, and seeing, all nontemporal metaphors. Interestingly, narrative constructions neednot be intentional,evenif most are. If a reader -more especially, if an influential readeror a consensusof readers can see overarching andjustify that claimon texpatternsin a pieceof narrative tualgrounds(supplemented to the type by anyextratextual materialappropriate of justification), then the reader's case for a construction is complete(although not indisputable). Whatwe writerstry to do and what we accomplishareoften The veryintensityof our trialsmay blindus to accomplishments verydifferent. loses exclusivecontrolof that (or faults)that othersmay see clearly.A narrator narrative just as soon as it occurs.Perhapswe may even see patternsnot open to the writerto eitherintendor discover.Hypothetically, we mightsuggestthat Herodotusanticipated sociocultural causalexplanation patterns that we see and beregularly use today,but which werenot part of his conceptualframework yond some prototypicalstage. In orderto developthe similaritiesamong narrative constructions,we have passedoverwithonly slightmentionmanyfeatures peculiarto each sort. Those differences mightmakea greatdifference to a fully developedtheory.It remains the case that narrative constructions-from the perspective of justificationthe possibilitiesof narrative presuppose discoursewithoutpresupposing narrativeobjects,eventhoughwemayfindmanyof the constructions in those objects. Moreover, only some of the possibilitiesfor construction belong distinctly,not to mentionexclusively, to history.It is not clearwhetherAnkersmit can confine the narratio withinhistory.He restshis distinctionbetweenhistoryand the historicalnovelon opposingrelationships between the pointof viewandthe specific statement: for history,a pointof viewis a conclusion;for the novelit is a start.38
38. Ibid., 19-27.



This distinctionholds promise,but requiresconsiderablymore attention to fictional narrative's modeof justification to whichall too fewtheoristshavegiven attention. Additionally, we must more fully developthe relationship betweennarrative and narrative construction. discourse Forexample,Meiland's evalu"perceptive ationof Oakeshott's 'constructivism"' thatAnkersmit its percepcitesmaintains tivenessonly on the suppositionof a reference-based theory of languagethat can sustainsharpdistinctionsbetweenour knowledgeof an event and the evidencefor an event.39 As we earliernoted,suchcritiquesfail underothertheories of languagein whichreference holds a different we can see that place.Likewise, Ricoeur's leap from narrative sentencesto followinga story soars over a wide plaincontaining interesting and significant formsof narrative life.40 The lureof realstoriessorelytriesour analyticalpatience.At the sametime,historicalconstructions, to the degreetheyconstituteproposals,containelementsof the creative capableultimatelyof determining just how we shall view our world,past, present,and future.Thus, we needto developfurthernot only the logic of conbut as wellthe meansbywhichconstructions structions, achieveor failto achieve a place within our conceptualand perceptualframeworks.

Althoughmosttheoriesof narrative beginwithnarrative objects,wecansayonly a limitedamountabout themper se. For the objects to which we must attend in narrative within social frameworks of theory exist as culturalachievements relationsand activities.41 Withinthese frameworks, objects serveas functional entitiesratherthan as naturalphenomena.Social recognitionof objectstends to freezetogetherobjectsand functionswithina systemof rulesthat a. defines the functionalobject, b. guidesevaluationsof successand failurein function, c. determines whatbenefitor detriment flowsfromthe object'sfunctioning,and d. enablesthe processof teachingnew generationshow to producesuccessful objects. Withinthe fieldof narrative objects,wecan identifya largenumberof distinct entitieson the basis of theiruse of narrative discourse.Oraland writtennarrativeobjectsinclude(farfromexhaustively) and jokes;anecdotes; news,weather, sportsreports; police records; courtrecords; extended journalisticaccounts;diariesand memoirs; and even and biographies; some chronicles autobiographies someannals; histories; long andshortstories; novellas andnovels(andevencycles of novels); somewritten drama sometechandscripts; someminutesof meetings; nicalreports (especially of accidents, catastrophes, or failures); depositions; parts of insurance claims;some personalletters;travelogues; epics and sagas;some
39. Ibid., 8; see Meiland, Scepticism and Historical Knowledge, 41ff., for the referencedargument. 40. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, I, 149. I twice note Ricoeur on this point because he is generally a carefulscholar.Many theoristswho make similarleaps soar on the uncertainwings of hasty erudition. 41. Here we loosely follow M. Mandelbaum, The Anatomy of Historical Knowledge (Baltimore, 1977), 11-23.



song lyrics;fairytales, folk stories,and fables;mythologicaland religiouscosandwelfare reports; moldgical accounts; excuses; partsof medical,socialservice, elements of psychoanalytic andpsychological records somecomedymonologues; menu-itemdescriptions; corporateanand case studies;some fancyrestaurant nual reports;grant and contractfinal reports;parts of equipmentrepairreto be, theycomas wemightlikehistoriesandliterature ports.... As important priseonly a minorityof our narrative objects, whetherreckonedcategorically arisesfromthe fact that or by the sum of instances.Theirseemingimportance socialinstitutions(separate but relatedones), the rules theyinhabitwell-defined and evaluationof the objectsand for whichincludea. the formalpreservation cannot b. rumination upon the foundationsof the activity.This fact, however, relegateother narrativeobjects to derivativestatus unworthyof theoretical analysis. elements As objectsalone,narratives showlittleby wayof commonstructural Finishedproducts otherthantheiruse of narrative discourseand constructions. haveopeningsand closures,althoughsome may haveonly beginnings generally -or at and endings.Perhapswe may find for all or most them centralsubjects leastcentralsubjectmatter -around or aboutwhicheachtells a story.But what verydifferent kindsof storiestheytell. Indeed,it is not clearwhetheror not the to the functionsof narraverynotion of a storymakessensewithoutreference tive objects.If not, we havefurtherreasonfor not exportingthe idea of a story and disconstruction (withany or all its ramifications) to the levelsof narrative course.Moreover, if we cannotintroduce the idea of storyhere,we maynot even be able to speak of centralsubjects,but only of subjectmatter. objectsis change.This Anothercommonlyposited constantof all narrative theoriesdevotedto historicalexplanation: the notion grewpopularin narrative narrative provideseitherfully or sketchilythe explanationfor the changethat the nonuniversality of this idea formsthe narrative's subject.Draydemonstrated in the period whichseekssome"unity" to "descriptive by callingattention history," and place studied.42 Shorterspans of narrative may seek only to show the way somethingis (or was)as an historicalconstruction.Hence,eventhis traditional essenceof historyturnsout to apply,if at all, to narrative objectsas functional entitieswithin social institutions. of historUp to this point, we havebeen examiningthe formalrequirements concernshave ical narrative. The logic of languageand certainhistoriographic rules of evidence, naturally dominatedin discussionsof linguisticconventions, and narrative communication is posconnections.To the degreethat narrative sibleby thesemeans,we mayfindcertainrulesand techniques, largelymastered of language and disciplinary skills.Any suchruleswemay duringthe acquisition be ableto formulateat these levelswouldapplyto the broadestspectrumof social activities,as distinguished cultural fromthe narrower contextsof producing artifacts withinspecificinstitutions of society.Whilethesebroadrulesmightunderlie themorespecific institutional doesnot hold.Wecannot activities, the reverse
42. W. H. Dray, Philosophy of History (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1964), 29-35.



- from uncriticallytransfer rules- whether epistemic,heuristic,or aesthetic to the overall framework within which we discourse narraspecificinstitutions constructions. tively and within which we may generatenarrative What may constitutean illicit movewithinthe constructionof any narrative theory may nonethelesshint at a naturalprocess.Althoughinstitution-specific rules(generally thosehavinga bearingupon evaluating the adequacy, merit,and utilityof narrative objects)andtechniques (forgenerating objectsthat meetsuch obtain within an institution,such as doing history,they leak back standards) narinto societyin variousways.Journalism and report-writing did not reinvent rativeas social institutionsarosethat required those activities.However,as activitieswithintheseinstitutions,they arenot beholdento theirsourcesfor rules of formationand success.At a conceptuallevel, Marxiancategories(or those of the Frenchsocialists)haveenteredour generallanguage,offeringus waysof social groups,waysthat werenot accessibleto JeremyBentham, characterizing despitehis deepconcernfor socialjustice.Tolook at a different sort of example, to professionals,thereby amateurhistoriansaccepttheir role and relationship in societya distinction that did not exista centuryago. In suchways generalizing the technicalrequirements and creative effortsof institutions altereveryday possibilities,evento the levelof whatit is possiblefor us to perceive. Thereis somethingveryrightin phenomenological of humanactivityand in aesexplications thetic claims for the powersof our poetic creations(and everycreationis -as the detailedprocesses Heidegger said- initiallypoetic).43 However, by whichcultural creationsinfluence not individualpsychology,but the very conceptual framework of languageand activity- still await detailedanalysis.


constructionsproceedsfrom a strict Althoughthe earlieraccountof narrative epistemicapproach,we may sensein the descriptions somethingof a technique that mayserveone or morepurposes.Wemightlearnto formulate narrative and in orderto provethesesor to educatereaders. historical constructions Thesequite a changeof perspecreasonable thoughtsabout historicalnarrative demarcate tive to a heuristicapproachto the theory of narrative, an approachthat seeks to analyzethe functionsof narratives and the meansby whichwe achievetheir havestarted successful narrative performance. Indeed,mosttheoriesof historical with and been drivenby a heuristicor functionalperspective on the subject. A heuristic approach beginswitha narrative within objectof a socialinstitution whichit functions.Sinceinstitutionsarecomplex,a singleobjectmay function diversely to educateor edify; to inform,correct,revise,or update;to entertain; to inspireactionsor attitudes;to imbuewith value(eitherpossessionsor-with - life and actionthemselves); Nietzsche to explain;to provea thesisor establish a theme;to persuadeor convince,for example,of the correctness of what hap43. See Fictional Narrative and Truth, Part 5, for one account of Heidegger's "The Origin of the Work of Art" and its applications.


73 Just as

to teach by pened or how to view what happened;to reformor revolutionize;

example how students and colleagues may do the things of history....

so too will appeartheirposobjectsmay seemillimitable, the types of narrative betweenobcorrelation however a one-to-one necessary siblefunctions,without for fabricating,using, jects and functions.Institutionsprovidethe framework how of the institution narrative objectsand forteachingmembers andevaluating to performthese tasks. Giventhis (overlygeneral)descriptionof institutions, andtechniques willformulate standards narratives a heuristic theoryof historical techniques to ends,ideallyin sucha waythat wemayboth teachanother relating narratives. historical andto assessandevaluate finished howto do andwritehistory we can often divorcefunctionalor heuristictheoriWithfictionalnarratives, lies or justificational theorization.Behindthis separation zationfromepistemic fiction and history.In the case an importantdistinctionbetweenparadigmatic of the former,the epistemicdimensionsof the institutionalactivitylie mostly only in the contemcomingto the foreground in the regionof presupposition, fiction(such I, Claudius)or historical history(forexample, plationof fictionalized as Warand Peace). With history,no such separationis possible.If it is at all withwritingfactually justifiedor justifiable correct to saythathistoryis charged than whathas happened, or nonnarrative, whichrelateor portray texts,narrative andthe justificational a full heuristic theorymustencompassboth the distinctly aspectsof whathistorydoes or can do. Perhapsthe only acdistinctlynarrative upon one or the other alone wouldbe ceptableexcusefor writingheuristically how to for pedagogical purposesin muchthe mannerof teachingprotodoctors administer medicinesand how to performsurgeryin separatelessons. dimenof theoriesthatignorethejustificational popularity Despitethe current literature existsthat sions of historicalpractice,a considerable historiographic approaches just this dimension.Fischerbeganhis studyof fallacies heuristically with threepremisesavowingthe existenceof a logic of historicalthought, the abilityto be awareas an historianof that logic, and the purposefulapplication of that logic in doing history."4Fischer's workis for historiansand showsthem how, in their works,to be justifiedand to avoid being unjustified.Unlike an and limits of epistemictheoryof history,whichwould formulatethe structure to historians how to use historicaljustification,this heuristicstudy tries show andhownot to usemodesof justification casesof use and(mostly) by presenting abuse. Giventhe differential goals of epistemicand heuristicstudies,we may anticibetweenthem, differences andterminological categorical pateandfindextensive of formaland informalfallajust as we do in basiclogictextsbetweencoverages cies. As notedby Hexter,who has treatedhistoriography as the craftof writing history,a heuristiccodificationof history'srules"wouldresemblea manualof consistingof "a number militarystrategymore than a handbookof physics," of maximsgenerally problemsin writing to the solutionof recurrent applicable

44. D. H. Fischer, Historian's Fallacies (New York, 1970), xv.



history. . ."I' These statements remain true even if we were to treat only the con-

structionalor justificational aspects of historicalactivity. What teachesus to do historycan also teach us to evaluatehistories.(The reverse is trueas well.)In the areaof historicaldisputeand debate,we havegiven most attentionto the reasoning processesused to reachconclusionsof the constructive typeexplicated by Collingwood andGoldstein. McCullagh's illuminating surveyof commoninferencesin historyoutlinesnumerouscase studiesof the of historical progression andjustification reasoning throughdebateandalternaof and searchesfor evidence.46 tive assessments He therebybroadensour view anddescription. of historical wemustturnto HaydenWhite reasoning However, in orderto acquirea framework and the narrativists permittingan evaluation of narrative as a modeof presentation of thepresenter independent andof formal historical argumentation, wherethe latterstillremains undertheterminological - graspof explanation. if not the conceptual Tobe ableto saythatwhatwe know is as much a function of what we formulateand how we formulateas it is of the appropriate applicationof methods of investigationis an insight thathowever long knownsince Kantor beyond-only has permeated historyunder narrativist pressure. EvenHexter's immediately prenarrativist notionof the craft of writingcould not escapethe split betweenknowingand communicating engenderedby explanationtheory.47 Explanation theorybeganwith a limitingcommitment to at least quasipositivisticcanons of epistemology,but ended in an appreciation of the diversity of verbalacts that, in one or anotherway,answered the questionsthat posed andrevealed ourpuzzlements. (A phenomenologist mightdo worsethanexplore the notionof posinga question.48) So-called covering-law theorists rigidlyframed the heuristic dimensionof explanation as a form theoryby settingout narrative of explanation,completeor incompleteaccordingto individualformulations. Otherfunctionsof narrative received eitherno or unappreciative treatment. This narrowview of historicalnarrative persistedfor nearlythreedecadesin some conquarters, occasioninglatertheoriststo despairof everescapinga perceived strictionof history'spurposes.49 Wehaveyet to appreciate of analysesthat fully the theoretical consequences broadened our view of explanations as a (not the) functionof historicalnarrative.Ledby Dray,who personally cataloguednumerous formswith explanatory noncovering-law logics, the effortto understand explanationgraduallymerged with the effortto understand the colligatoryfunctionsof narrative on broader, if less precise,functionaland justificationalgrounds.50 Withinthis movement
45. J. H. Hexter, "The Rhetoric of History," in Doing History (Bloomington, 1971), 66. 46. McCullagh, Justifying Historical Descriptions, Chapter 4, 91-128. 47. Hexter, "The Rhetoric of History," 68. 48. To pose a question is, in part, to put it forth, to posit and position it, to frame it: all leading figures worth exploring. 49. With a bit of arbitrariness, from Hempel's 1942 "The Function of General Laws in History" to (perhaps) Hexter's 1971 History Primer and Doing History. 50. See Dray's Philosophy of History, Chapter 2, for a summary of his work to 1964. See also his "Colligation Under Appropriate Conceptions" for seemingly slight but significant shifts, for example, in accepting the idea of "saying what" for the earlier "explaining what."



of the everyday emergedan awareness diversityof functionsof both narrative in a strictlyheuristic Theend result,yetto be summarized conandexplanation. text (for explanation theorystill clingsto its illusoryepistemicapproachto the for generating subject),is a complexweb of techniques(or rulesof procedure) an arrayof justifiedaccounts(in contrastto Fischer'sfallacies)within formal a setof standards historical-narrative objects.Thearray wouldalsoprovide against whichwe mightmeasurethe successof historicalnarratives, teach studentsthe the insightmethodsof achieving justifiedhistorical conclusions,andappreciate Sucha set of standards also would fulnessof variedstylesof historical reasoning. permitus to recognizenovel methodologies. Wehavenotedthatin anycomplexinstitution,we mustallowfor partialfunctional accountsof the activities.Explanation theory,for all of its initialclaims, presentsthe heuristicsof one significantfacet of doing history.Mandelbaum the multifunctional took some furtherstepsin understanding natureof historical narrative when he formulatedhistory'ssequential,explanatory, and interof conpretative "forms." Sequential historychoosesa subjectthat has a "degree of eventsmakingup that history." tinuity" and tracesthe "strands Explanatory historyseeksto answera definitequestion:"Granted that this eventdid occur, what factorswereresponsiblefor its occurrence?" Interpretative historyexists for the sake of depictinga "stateof affairsitself.""5 Althoughthese threefuncall of history'slegitimateand importions fall shortof adequately representing to treattheirinteraction withinsingle tantfunctions, theydo permit Mandelbaum of one of the forms or functionsin histories,despitethe usual predominance of somecrua givenhistory.Moreover, he is also ableto explorethe relationship in the contextof cial epistemicfactors,suchas causation,laws,and objectivity, intertwining functions.The resultis perhapsa schematic modelfor a full theory that interrelates to the full spectrumof more completelydifferingapproaches historicalobjects and functions. With respectto Mandelbaum and to virtuallyall the partialtheorieswithin the quest for an account of historicalexplanationwe must recognizeanother of the historian.This perspective fact:all writefromthe perspective significant of doingandwriting seemsmostnatural, andindividual nature giventheintensive that history. However, nothingin the natureof historyitselflogicallynecessitates wetakethisperspective. AlthoughwemaytreatHayden Whiteandthenarrativists from this perspective, we may find it more profitablein placingtheir work to see them as criticalreadersexaminingnot the activityof history,but only the finishedobjectsthey receivefromhistorians.In literature, as one of our prominentsocialinstitutions, we havea specificmultifaceted rolefor the critic-analystcollegeteacherwho is chargedto conveywhatliterature is, how it is made,what - get out of it, and how we can appreciate we can- as readers it properly. Some historicalworks,such as Plutarch's Lives or Gibbon'sDecline and Fall of the Roman Empire, havetraditional placesamongthe collectionof literary objects (justas havesomephilosophical works,such as Plato'sdialogues).WhatWhite
51. Mandelbaum, The Anatomy of Historical Knowledge, 25-29.



haveintroduced is the generaltreatment of all historical and his followers works as literaryproductions. Reader-oriented criticism introduces into historical heuristic theoryseemingly novelelements.Perhaps most shockingto practicing historians, it creates a place to assess systematically for nonhistorians historicalworks.To this assessment, andcategories. in literary its ownvocabulary critical theorybrings Often,especially to the arts and its criticism,the operative circlesthat ally themselves categories mix structural, functional,and aestheticcategories.The reader-critic-analystWhiteadaptsto his purposes. teacher rolerequires precisely the sortof categories FromFrye,we discoverin historicalnarrative romance,tragedy,comedy,and satire as modes of emplotment.From Pepper,we uncoverformist, organist, mechanistic, and contextualist types of argument.Mannheimsuppliesthe allimportantideological typology that includes anarchism,conservatism,radicalism, and liberalism.White notes that "a historiographical style represents a particular combinationof modes of emplotment,argument,and ideological statusto the linguistictropes implication."52 AlthoughWhitegivesfoundational of metaphor, and irony,in the end ideologyformsand metonymy, synecdoche, focusesthe purposeof his theory.Ultimately,he wouldhavehistorians"recognize the fictiveelementin their narratives" to free each one from becoming"a and "to movethe teachingof historiogcaptiveof ideologicalpreconceptions" raphyonto a higherlevelof self-consciousness thanit currently occupies."53 This combinationof evaluativecritiqueand teachingprinciplescomprisesprecisely the benchmark goals of heuristictheory,and in termsof them we must understand White'sefforts. Thetraditions of literary rundeepin White's In viewing criticism theorization. structures thatmodel"paststructures historical accounts as verbal andprocesses," to a preanalytical Whitecan claimto penetrate level of consciousness that constitutesexperience. Just at such a levelwe areto understand that each historian in one comnecessarily emplots"thewholeset of storiesmakingup his narrative prehensive or archetypal story form."54 This maneuver permitsus to formulate in andthrough the historian's of history in manydifferent constitution hisnarrative ways,withoutcontending withthe needfor evidenceof consciousintentor articulatedpurpose.White'spreanalytical consciousness is thus nobody'sconsciousin a traditionstemming at least fromColeridge's ness at all. Rather, postulation of a facultyof imagination,we can erectfor heuristicpurposesa quasigenetic that allowsa connectionbetweenperceived within theoryof literature structures literature and techniques for any individualto createthem. The resultremains, and not of purpose. however,a heuristicof achievement Nonetheless,the essentialposition of the criticis that of a readerRomantically focusedupon the writer.If Whitereceivesfrom textsthe nasalperception of ideality,he writesthatto narrativize is to moralize, to "giveto realitythe odor
52. H. White, Metahistory (Baltimore, 1973), through 34, especially 29. 53. White, "The Historical Text as Literary Artifact," 61. 54. White, Metahistory, 2, 8, 30, 33.



of the ideal."55 In an equallymixedassertion,he notesthat to perceive the "class or type"of a storyis to have"theeventsexplainedto him,"presumably by the story-teller.56 class a or However, perceiving typeprecisely depends upontheclasses or types that a readerbringsand can applyeffectively to the story.The creative enablesthe readerto accomplishthis feat at ever deeper critic-analyst-teacher of productive levelsof significance bythe invention withoutanynecescategories sary regardfor the intentionsor conceptualframework of writers.For a brief time, readersfound it profitableto psychoanalyze Hamlet, a task that only a readercould perform. Although experienced literarycritics and analystscan easily read through White's geneticposture to the heuristic core,mostphilosophic theorists havefounderedon peripheral thesesand concerns.Whitewishesto awakenand enlighten historians and studentsto history'slack of ideologicalinnocence,regardless of the politicaldirectionof its source.57 Whiteearlierdescribedideologyas "a set of prescriptions for takinga position in the presentworldof social praxisand actingupon it,... attendedby arguments that claim the authorityof 'science' or 'realism."' Herein,perhaps,lies the theoretical battleground most separable fromand superfluous to the creative heuristics. ForWhitebelievesthat "history is not a science,or is at best a protoscience with specifically determinable nonscientificelementsin its constitution."58 By science,he means a vaguelyHempelianpositivistic of structure conception andactivitythatwouldallowhistorians to explainthe "real," while leavingnoveliststo deal with "imagined events."59 Withinthe ideology of historyas positivisticscience,White sees "a reluctance to consider historical narratives as whattheymostmanifestly are- verbalfictions . . ."60 ThusdoesWhite radically respond to a positionmanytheoristshadviewed in the early 1970sas dead at least half a decade. At firstglance,Whiteseemsembarked upon an epistemic argument concerning the limitsof history. two factorsmitigateagainstthe appearance. However, First, to classify any narrative as fiction is to decide what modes of justificationwe shalldemandof it and not to discoverwhatmodesof justification in fact apply to it. The modesof justification apt to fictionalnarrative forma subsetof those we applyto historical narrative (exceptperhaps for someaesthetic categories that we only sometimesapplyto history).At a heuristiclevel,we can decideto apply only the subsetwithout therebynecessarilylimitinghistoryor historiography. at theepistemic By contrast, level,onlyif wecanvoidthe methodological justifica55. White, "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality," 23, 20, emphasis mine. 56. White, "The Historical Text as Literary Artifact," 49. 57. H. White, "The Politics of Historical Interpretation: Discipline and De-Sublimation," Critical Inquiry 9 (1982), 137. 58. White, Metahistory, 21-22. Involved in White's definition of ideologies is a more subtle move: the incorporation of "science" into ideology itself. Thus, every swipe against ideologically biased history includes a sideswipe against history as it really is. Only in this old formula can we conflate positivistic science and the real so glibly. Outside this antique, science and the real are often very different things, as in the case of mystic, mythic, and religious bases for ideologies. 59. White, "The Historical Text as Literary Artifact," 60. 60. Ibid., 42.



tion of historicalconstructscan we sustaina claim that historyis none other than fiction. This second factor leads us to considerthe natureof historical methods,whichneithercorrespond to White'snotion of the sciences(derived fromearlyexplanation theorists) nor dependupontraditional viewsof reference andostension.Reliance uponlinguisticmodelsthat seemingly refutesuchirrelevant views without speakingto the pragmaticdimensionsof historicaland everyday justification thus leavesthe apparent epistemicpretensions of narrativism eitherillusoryor unfounded.Whethersuch models can speak directlyto epistemicquestionsremainspart of narrativism's unfinishedwork. Perhapsacademichistory'sseeminglack of everyday functionengenders the that it has no different perception impactupon our worldthan fictionalnarrative.The abstract termsof our list of historicalfunctionsalmostdefiestranslation into practicalterms.Yeteveryday narrative constructionsshow both their eminentutilityandtheirpragmatic in factualevidenceas a necessary grounding conditionof utility.As I write,a governmental commissionis investigating the launchexplosionof an Americanspaceshuttle.Its effortswill yield a narrative reportof humanactions and physicalprocesses,a narrative that hopes to accomplishat leasttwo explicitgoals:the redesignof launchpersonnel communicationsnetworksand the redesignof certainrocketryelements.In the process, if presentnewsreportsare reliable,the investigators will discover(havediscovin the future(for example,solid ered)new data to be acquiredand preserved rocketboosterprelaunch temperatures). As a consequence, futurenarratives of suchincidentswill necessarily takea (slightly)different constructive form.Howis to precludethe need for ever,partof the avowedaim of the presentnarrative a similarfuturenarrative. Thus occursthe everyday pragmatic growthof useful narrative-constructive methods.Someday academic historians mayalsolearnhow to usetelemetry data.Nonetheless,all thesenotesreflect modesof narrative constructionand use that must everelude the creatorsof fictionalnarratives (even such narratives as Cook's Brain and Mindbend). Totheseconsiderations of the everyday narrative wemightaddnumerous report practicalthingsa readermight learnfrom history,mattersthat a literarycriticism focusedupon ideology might miss. FromstudyingBrinton'sand Hoffer's workon revolutions and massmovements, one mightlearnhowto organizeand runan effective rebellion(or at least howto surviveone). Frommilitaryhistories of the battleof Cowpens,one mightlearnto conducta doubleenvelopment with due consideration for the qualityof one's own troops as well as the qualityof the enemy's. Fromhistoriesof eighteenth-century scientificresearch, one might learnas from no contemporary scientificpaperhow to trackwrongdirections of research in orderto benefitworkin the rightdirection. Everylessonthatyields successtendsto confirmits narrative sources.However, everyfailureyieldsa tree of questions:Werethe narratives read aright?If so, what needs correctionin the narratives: theiroverallnarratios or the collectionof informationwhichinformedthem (as viewedfrom a justificational At the level of the perspective)? for contextsof the of narrative must make room everyday, heuristics historical justificationthat go beyondrhetoric,if the theory is to be complete.



Thejustification of a literary reader-critic-teacher heuristics of historicalnarrativerests,however, simplyuponthe fact that historyshareswithfictionalliterature (and with journalismand other everydaynarrativeactivities)a set of has othersnot sharedwithliterjustificational modes,eventhoughit necessarily of literary criticalcategories, as withanyset of heuristic ature.Thedevelopment no grounding otherthanin theirproductivity and of analysis, categories requires White'sown categoriesadmittedlyrest upon utility for the criticalenterprise. of the Aristotelian but rather neither logicnorepistemology, uponan adaptation idea of rhetoric. Thus, it is perhapsunfortunate for the literary critiqueof historythatWhite's analyseshavebecomealmostinextricably meshedwithperipheralthesesregarding historical andidealityas politicalphenomena, reality, power, Until and the perennial gloomy economicand class statusof the humanities.6" narrativism understands its placein theorization and becomesveryexplicitand about preciselywhat theses it wishesto sustain,we can directlyargumentative only deconstructits edificeone opaque brick at a time. The aim hereis not to explainin detailnarrativist categoriesof criticism,but to placethe overalltheoryamongothers.The rhetorical focus of Whiteand his that historicalreasoningand followershas revealed,perhapseven admirably, of narrative which writing forma continuum thatincludesthe creation structures convinceas wellas communicate andthereby mayalterthe verywaysweperceive andconceivehistory's data. If we learnno otherlessonfrom suchcriticalwork, we must acknowledge that Sartre's idea of literature invitingus to participate in no To as readers the reformation of our worldis passiveor neutralaffair.62 in just the inviteis to make inviting,to set a scene that luresus to participate waypresented by the text. Suchis the powerof the narratio underthe categories of criticalanalysisso forcefullyand rhetorically urgedby White. If criticalheuristicsteachesanything,it is that much of what we learn from historymaynot be historical.Ricoeur's recentwork,currently influential among narrative theorists,fully illustrates the adage.Often mistakenfor a narrativist, in pursuit Ricoeur heuristics of othergoals.These onlycapitalizes uponnarrativist effortsgo well beyondthe level of ordinaryliteraryheuristicsto seek out what in generalmay do to and for the temporalmode of humanexistence. narrative As Ricoeur humanto theextentthatit is articulated putsit, "time becomes through a narrative attainsits full meaningwhenit becomesa condimode,andnarrative
61. Out of such materials we make philosophical fads and, as fads fade into disinterest, we lose the benefits that lie at their core. White has perhaps encouraged such treatment of his work, not only in the arguments he presents, but as well with his own rhetorical methods, which run the gamut of erudite persuasive techniques with or without logical foundation. To cite just one example, he footnotes a piece of the etymology of "narrative"without explicitly arguing its place in his overall case for his views. He leaves the conclusions about narrativeand knowing to readers who likely have not explored the question of whether etymology can determine, given such linguistic phenomena as meaning division and reversal, in any way whatsoever the current meaning and use of a word. See "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality," 1. This and other articles teem with rhetorical techniques not easily absorbed by even White's categories. 62. Sartre also saw before White that at the heart of an aesthetic imperative lies a moral one; see What Is Literature? (New York, 1966), 38-45.



tion of temporalexistence."63 Interestin the heuristicor epistemicdimensions to stop short of of narrative theoryseeminglyinfluencesmany commentators theyfocusuponRicoeur's Ricoeur's existential rendering of timeandfate.Instead, appreciative analysesof White,Danto,Gallie,and othersfromwhom he draws concludes his analysisof thesetheorieswith"thequessalientpoints.YetRicoeur narrative.64 He seeks tion of historical time"rather thanthe questionof historical to explicatelevelsof temporality which hold "historicality" betweena surface "within-time-ness" (already different fromlineartime)and, at the deepestlevel,
the "plural unity of future, past, and present .

. rooted in .

. care reflecting

upon itself as mortal."65 from Heidegger's Ricoeurborrows analysisof time for his goals and engages in phenomenological to developthe threemodesof mimesisthat comdialectics In the "dyprisehis contribution to the mediationbetweentime and narrative. of narrative providesdisnamicof emplotment," our practicalunderstanding of a story.Upon order" cursive rulesof compositionthat governthe "diachronic of experience areconstructed mimetics. textual-literary thisprenarrative structure To this level of prefigured time or plot as a mediation time, we add configured of "theworldof text" betweeneventsand the storyas a whole.The intersection and "theworldof the heareror reader" marksthe point of refiguring the time of experience circularity." The finalexegesisof and the beginningof a "radical volume.66 He pointsout the direcDasein in thesetermsRicoeur leavesto another tion of his workby findingin both historical and fictionalnarrative "repetition," in and as accountsof how one (person, action in the figureof the memorable, liesthe keyto narrative change thing,or society) becomeswhatit is:herein destiny in that we tell and througha story'sevents.67 endeavorthat raisesquestions Ricoeur's heuristicsof time is a metaphysical to epistemicand methodologicalconcerns.From this perabout its relevance of his effortsto White'ssuprasowe mayevenquestionthe relationship spective, cial heuristicsto which Ricoeurclaims some affinities.Ricoeuroperatesfrom a cleartraditiondatingto Plato, who also wrestledwith the place of literature in not just the idealsociety,but in the fundamental schemeof things.Withupa meaningfulRicoeurseeksnot to bestowon narrative datedmethods,however, the ness derivedfrom basic forms, but to understand ultimatemeaningfulness of a significant to humantemporality. humanactivityin termsof its relationship that go beof this type of theorizationrestsupon commitments The legitimacy to the socialinstitutionsalone;it restsupon our commitments yondrecognizing to follow If fail Ricoeur this commentators far, howmetaphysical enterprise. and his analysesof specificaspectsof narrative ever,they risk misinterpreting narrative theory,no matterhow appealingthose analysesmay seemfrom other perspectives.
63. 64. 65. 66. 67. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, I, 52. Ibid., 1, 206. P. Ricoeur, "Narrative Time," in On Narrative, ed. Mitchell, 166-167. Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, I, 59, 64, 71, 86-87. Ricoeur, "Narrative Time," 176-178.



LikeWhite,however, Ricoeurremainsweddedto a formulationof the problems of historicalnarrative that restsupon traditionalreferential views of lansolutionto the so-calledproblem guage.Hence,his dialectical of historical reality underthe signsof the same,the other,andthe analoguemighthavebeenunnecworkdone so far on the justificationof essaryhad he attendedto the extensive historical constructions.68 Moreover, althoughliterary-critical heuristics cantreat as a collectionof cultural historical narratives the dialecticof time achievements, In metaphysics, cannot, for it is not in itself of a cultureor society.69 but not history,the entirespanof narrative objects- and eventhe possibilityof the selfrefiguring of time withinordinaryactivities -must becomethe focus of study. Culturalachievements such as storytellingmight be a key for understanding in Greco-Roman humantemporality times(althoughthis is to be doubted),but the myriadof narrative objectstoday run their tentaclesfrom everydayness to the highestachievements withoutlacuna.Thus, a heuristicof historicalnarrative need not expressan elitism for White'shistorical-literary criticism,but it almost necessarilydoes so for Ricoeur. Ricoeurdoes provideus with an intriguingintroductory accountof how our highestnarrative creationsreturninto the presuppositions of everyday life. The mimetic circle demonstrates theneedforanytheoryto finishthecourseof thought. Indeed,anypropertheoryof historicalnarrative mustattendin full circleto all levelsof the enterprise, providingcompleteand compatibleaccountsof each. We remainfar from this goal. Metatheoryitself cannot resolvethe mountain of outstanding eitherthosewe havealready questions, posedor thoseyetto come. However, cango somedistance in permitting metatheory us to positionconfidently the contributions made so far and to glimpsethe next few steps beyondthem. By properly placingtheoriesand partialtheorieswithina metatheoretical framework, we can see more clearlytheir nature,ramifications, and limits, thereby betweenthe contributionsand the philosophicalfads. Much of differentiating whatwe needin orderto improve ournarrative theoriesalready existsin the body of extantthoughtfulanalyses.The task is to use these contributionswisely in pursuitof a comprehensive and adequatetheory of historicalnarrative.
The University of Tennessee

68. P. Ricoeur, The Reality of the Historical Past (Milwaukee, 1984), 5, 14, 25. See Time and Narrative, Vol. 2, for more on these questions, as well as his analysis of fictional narrative and the completion of the dialectic of temporal existence. 69. See Ricoeur's Time and Narrative, I, 195-200.