From nobody Thu Sep 4 06:16:43 2003
Newsgroups: soc.culture.african,soc.culture.african.american,alt.politics,alt.romance
Subject: Re: Ilya Shambat
Message-ID: <>
Organization: SBC
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 19:26:08 GMT

What makes a statement historical?

By Haines Brown, 4 September 2003

This reply has been edited for clarity

> What, in your words is
> historical understanding? Why did he kill so many people?

As to the first question, it is a good one, for very few professional historians could answer it comfortably. All I can give you is my own personal view.

Besides some obvious contextual points too obvious to bother with here, I would list several parameters that taken together I consider would make a statement “historical.”

What this adds up to is that circumstances (structures inherited from the past) constrain causal relations in the present and so necessarily yield novel empirical outcomes in the future.

... [comment on Amin as an example]

If someone has a better definition, I’d be very happy to hear of it. To be honest, though, my points are rather abstruse and most historians would only scratch their heads over them. So if it seems hard to swallow, I well understand. That is, I don’t expect it to be very persuasive, although I could defend each point at GREAT length ;-).

... [more about Amin]

Haines Brown