Monism, Dualism, And Pluralism In American History

1089 words - 5 pages

It seems readily apparent that monism is without a doubt the very worst way to approach history, Societies and cultures are not one dimensional, but rather are made up of a tapestry of factors. Thus looking at just one aspect gives the historian only a myopic sense of what was going on or what people were thinking at a particular time or place in history. While this is typically thought of as being the consensus history of the great white men, however other schools of historical thought can also be viewed objectively, as being equally narrow in scope. One simply can not expect to garner a panoramic perspective of history by looking at it solely from one perspective. Its illogical to think ...view middle of the document...

This school of thought was taken up as well by the Consensus historians of the mid-20th century and then in the 80's it was revived by Neo-consensus ideas which are still around in popular history.
A dualistic view of history is a better way of looking at history, but still excludes any number of factors and perspectives and thus is of somewhat limited use in uncovering the full story of the past as well. Progressive historians of the early 20th century, many of whom were heavily influenced by Marxist theory, were the first to look at American history from a dualist perspective, followed in later years by Marxist, Neo-progessives and the New Left historians.
They saw a great deal of division in early American society in sharp contrast to the united front standing behind the patriot elite, which had previously been ingrained by the romanticized visions of earlier nationalistic writers. They emphasized this division in American society which had existed well before the revolution and remained a constant factor in the make up of our nation, indeed it remains that way today. Much of this type of history attempts to look at history from the bottom up, that is from the perspective of the working classes and this carries with it the inherent problem of locating primary sources. While the papers and documents of historically prominent people are almost invariably collected and archived, the same is can not be said for the personal effects of average citizens. Therein lies the main weakness of this type of history, however it opened minds and brought new ideas and visions of the past to light in future generations.
Pluralism clearly seems the best model for historical inquiry, because it attempts to look at a broader sampling in its inquiries. The New Social Historians like Berkin have done this very well, looking at the revolutionary era from the perspective of women from a wide spectrum of society including niches of society whose voices had previously remained unheard. This school of historical thought must deal with the problems of sources from the lower end of that wide spectrum just...

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