The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 14, No. 1
BARBARA D. MERINO, EDITOR North Texas State University
HISTORICAL METHODS — POST MODERNIST ANALYSIS
LaCapra, Dominick. —History & Criticism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
University Press, 1985, 145pp., $17.50. Porter, Dale L. The Emergence of the Past - A Theory of Historical Explanation. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1981, 205pp., $19.00
Reviewed By Barbara D. Merino North Texas State University
These two books deal with very different subject matters but they have a common theme, namely that contemporary know-ledge should not be modeled on the early 20th century's under-standing of certain pieces of 19th century and especially 17th century physics. In short, they reject the deductive covering law model as an appropriate method for historical research. LaCapra examines social and intellectual history and proposes to join the traditional documentary model of history with rhetorical analysis to create a broader, interactive understanding of histori-cal discourse. Porter's thesis is that modern scientific knowledge has changed conceptions of time and events, making historical narrative better able to generate valid explanations than the Newtonian mechanistic paradigm that has had a lasting impact on historical research. Porter contends that "the positivist" deductive law approach is based on a conception of science that was already becoming outmoded when Carl Hempel challenged historians to follow it [p. 63] and that modern science now demands that perception replace the static causal concept of a "fictional physical force" found in deductive law models [p. 69]. Porter advocates use of a "genetic approach to historical methodology," based on the process philosophy of Whitehead and extending the processive model of Hexter.