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A Social and Environmental Philosophy: The Historical Dimension of Action by Kenneth Wilson

This is the last part of the first section on Action of Kenneth Wilson’s thesis “A Social and Environmental Philosophy”

The last two chapters set out to establish a biospheric and social context for the agent. This chapter develops this sense of context for the agent by arguing for, and describing the nature of, the agent’s historical situatedness. Thus I argue against those, such as John Elster,[1] who take the position that the historical influence on the agent in the present is to be ignored. This position is sometimes referred to as ‘methodological presentism’.

This chapter therefore examines an aspect of the temporality of the agent. The importance of this discussion for the crisis of modernity lies in the characteristic tendency of modernity to jettison the past. This is evidenced in revolutionary, “year zero” types of political change, in which the instigators believe that a truly fresh start can be made, as if history had never happened and as if its influence can be ignored. Read more