History and the Business of Thinking

“Today, historians worry that they have lost their audience, and their distress has made the search for the next trend seem especially pressing” says Samuel Moyn in a review of four books on the writing of history.

Drawing on the likes of Gibbon, Marx, and Momigliano, Moyn wants the coming generation of historians to see that “one thing is clear: ¬†thinking will have to become our profession.” This would be a move, according to the author, from the consensus that “makes facts almost sacred and theories essentially secondary.”

Readers, particularly historians, might be surprised to learn that history has long eschewed thinking for frameworks. For this and the intellectual fashions that have moved historians, see Moyn’s piece in The Nation. Much to debate.