History and evolution

If it wasn’t for evolution, history wouldn’t exist. Because things are different now than they were then, historians’ excavations make sense. Histories of evolving links between evolution-inspired economics and biology thus greatly risk falling prey to post-modernist quibble. But Clement Levallois’ recent PhD thesis on the history of postwar links between economics and biology in the United States steers clear of all such cheap metaphysics and instead provides a detailed historical account of who, what, where, and why. I think this is a great piece of work. The only thing I could not figure out was why Levallois in the first chapter puts such emphasis on a “new” diachronic historiography, as contrasted with anachronistic historical understanding. The following six chapters do not seem to depend on this (originally Kragh’s) distinction and Levallois only runs the risk of being attacked for a dichotomy he doesn’t really need to explicate. In fact, in a footnote on page 26 Levallois immediately problematizes the dichotomy he just introduced. Then again, perhaps it’s just me. Historiography tends to confuse me.

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