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By Sten Lindroth, Gunnar Eriksson, Gunnar Broberg, Tore Frängsmyr

A problem OF THE ROMANTIC AND restricted VIEW OF HIS lifestyles, ESSAYS, 203 PAGES WITH INDEX

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Extra resources for Linnaeus: The Man and His Work

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Modem Anglo-Saxon philosophy regards itself as secondary in relation to the sciences; it is the sciences that are considered to have privileged access to reality. Therefore it makes sense that all other disciplines should follow the methods of science. This style of thought tends to assume that the world and reality can ultimately be described by the painstaking collection and categorisation of 'neutral' and 'true' 'facts'. In the final analysis, perhaps, all this knowledge could be pieced together to form a true picture of reality, but unfortunately this is showing no signs of happening.

59 However, as ideas in history about these things are constantly changing, some historicists adopt a relativist position, arguing that it is impossible to ever know which view is true, and that all views are equally true - or untrue. Foucault writes in direct opposition to these ideas. In his view, to resort to traditional explanations of historical change relying on notions such as influence, causality, traditions, development and evolution and 'mentality' or 'spirit of the age' is merely to invoke quasi-magical metaphysical entities.

52 As there is considerable disagreement over the use of the term historicism - the term often being used in ways which directly contradict each other - it might be useful to provide some preliminary definitions before looking at Foucault' s rejection of this approach. 53 If, as Hegel says, 'the history of the world is a rational process, the rational and necessary evolution of the world spirit', and if the nature of this spirit is always one and the same', then it follows that by studying that rational process which is history, one can deduce possible directions for the future.

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