The Ways of Understanding the Human Past

The Ways of Understanding the Human Past

Product ID: 18337

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Author: D P Chattopadhyaya
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass
Year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 164
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8187586052


It is widely acknowledged that an idea expressed in one language, if translated into another, undergoes a change in its meaning and its associated understanding. Chattopadhyaya has tried to argue in this book that the modern scientific concept of history, though has its undeniable importance, should not be understood in a dehistorised manner.

The modern concept of history should not be confused with the ancient or even the medieval concepts like purana, puravrtta, itihasa and upakhyana. Our modes of understanding and action should not be telescoped into theirs. This distinction squarely rests on the difference between age-specific social conditions and their influence on human ideas, ideals, languages, rather modes of speech, and actions. An attempt has been made to show how literature in its wider sense, comprising epoch bound beliefs, myths, customs, conventions, social movements and other forms of culture enter into historical narrative.

In the name of contemporanity of history, its very temporality or time-bound character can hardly be denied. Chattopadhyaya argues that history embodies a sort of inter-epochal dialogue (samtap) which, like different forms of science and arts, are endlessly updatable. The work will be of interest to historians, philosophers of history, social scientists and Indologists.


D P CHATTOPADHYAYA, MA, LLB, PhD (Calcutta and London School of Economics), D. Litt. (Honoris Causa) researched, studied Law, Philosophy and History and taught at various Universities in India, Asia, Europe and USA FROM 1954-1994. founder-Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research (1981-1990) and President-cum-Chairman of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1984-1991), Chattopadhyaya is currently the Project Director of the multi-disciplinary 96-Vol. Project of History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization (PHISPC) and Chairman of the Centre for Studies in Civilizations (CSC). Among his 32 publications (authored 17 and edited 15) are Individuals and Societies (1967), Individuals and World (1976), Sri Aurobindo and Karl Marx (1988), Anthropology and Historiography of Science (1990), Induction, Probability and Skepticism (1991), Sociology, Ideology and Utopia (1997), Societies, Cultures and Ideologies (2000), Interdisciplinary Studies in Science, Society, Value and Civilizational Dialogue (2002) and Philosophy of Science, Phenomenology and Other Essays (2003). Besides, he held high public Offices like Union Cabinet Ministership and State Governorship.



1. Introduction.

2. Itihasa and epics.

3. History as art: Indian context.

4. History as science: Indian context.

5. History as practical dialogue: a passage from past to future.