[-empyre-] A quick thought about Theory and History

Lichty, Patrick plichty at colum.edu
Thu Oct 15 13:45:10 EST 2009

Hello, all.
Here is a set of mnemonics I use for myself, having theorists, historians, social theorists, etc around me.

I have always considered theory akin to "applied philosophy", as it addresses much more specific issues than philosphy, but is less specific than criticism, which often deals with a specific site/event.
Remember, I say often, not always.
History - usually the ordering of events.  Although there is a theory of the construction of history (historiography, a favorite of mine), this is not history itself, but a metanarrative.  Or, one could argue that Foucault is a philosopher or theorist, but I beg he's on the border, and towards the latter in regards to his specific analyses of events, rather than dealing more primarily with more abstract concepts like ontology as a central point.

Being that I run a theory/humanities track in my department, I see the urge to conflate all of these genres, and while history and theory inform one another, they are not the same.
Also, understand that these are my personal mnemonics, and others my differ regarding my terms.

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