Basically, there are two trends in historical analysis:
The first one, the traditional method, tries to define a system of laws to make sense of things. It reduces history to a formula. Events are unified and tied in a bow. This method has led to a change in the theory of history.
The second branch, the history of ideas, focuses on understanding the "disruptions," or the changes in the process of history. This method concentrates individual fields of thought. The origin is irrelevant - what is important is current transformations and what the field will become.
Foucault argues that both methods elicit the same question though: that of the document. The document is a telling of history, not history itself. It is a monument, an artifact. Studying history by studying documents as artifacts is the same process archaeologists use to understand the past. The mindset that archeology is a sub-genre of history gets turned upside-down: history is a sub-genre of archeology.
2 years ago