The Ecumenical Analytic: ‘Globalization’, Reflexivity and the Revolution in Greek Historiography

David Inglis, Roland Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

‘Globalization’ has become in recent years one of the central themes of social scientific debates. Social theories of globalization may be regarded as specific academic and analytic manifestations of wider forms of ‘global consciousness’ to be found in the social world today. These are ways of thinking and perceiving which emphasize that the whole world should be seen as ‘one place’, its various geographically disparate parts all being interconnected in various complex ways. In this article we set out how both a general ‘ecumenical sensibility’ involving such ways of thinking, and its specifically academic variant, an ‘ecumenical analytic’, are simultaneously responses to ‘globalizing conditions’ and also products of the latter. We demonstrate how social theories of globalization, locatable in the overall set we call the ‘ecumenical analytic’, are reflexive thought-products, in that they both seek to investigate, and are made possible by, ‘globalizing conditions’. Rejecting the view that both an ecumenical sensibility and an ecumenical analytic are solely products of modernity, we show how such modes of consciousness and analysis were present in the period of Greek history between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of the Roman Empire. We show how at that period a socio-political situation akin in certain ways to modern ‘globalizing conditions’ generated both an ecumenical sensibility and an ecumenical analytic, the latter most forcefully represented by a revolutionary new genre in historiography called Universal History. By examining the ideas of its most famous practitioner, the historian Polybius, we demonstrate that Universal History both provided a framework for understanding what we today would call ‘globalization’, and exhibited a remarkable degree of reflexive awareness about its own conditions of possibility. We seek to show that an attentiveness to ‘global’ processes and a reflexive understanding of what makes that form of thinking possible in the first place, are not solely confined to modernity but were identifiable features of intellectual production in the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece. In this way we argue that scholars today should not imagine that the contemporary ‘global turn’ in social thought is either unique or wholly historically unprecedented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-122
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2005

Fingerprint

reflexivity
historiography
globalization
consciousness
modernity
history
Roman Empire
political situation
Greece
historian
genre
death

Cite this

The Ecumenical Analytic : ‘Globalization’, Reflexivity and the Revolution in Greek Historiography . / Inglis, David; Robertson, Roland.

In: European Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 8, No. 2, 01.05.2005, p. 99-122.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{b4204298a9224823b0ac8da842230ea4,
title = "The Ecumenical Analytic: ‘Globalization’, Reflexivity and the Revolution in Greek Historiography",
abstract = "‘Globalization’ has become in recent years one of the central themes of social scientific debates. Social theories of globalization may be regarded as specific academic and analytic manifestations of wider forms of ‘global consciousness’ to be found in the social world today. These are ways of thinking and perceiving which emphasize that the whole world should be seen as ‘one place’, its various geographically disparate parts all being interconnected in various complex ways. In this article we set out how both a general ‘ecumenical sensibility’ involving such ways of thinking, and its specifically academic variant, an ‘ecumenical analytic’, are simultaneously responses to ‘globalizing conditions’ and also products of the latter. We demonstrate how social theories of globalization, locatable in the overall set we call the ‘ecumenical analytic’, are reflexive thought-products, in that they both seek to investigate, and are made possible by, ‘globalizing conditions’. Rejecting the view that both an ecumenical sensibility and an ecumenical analytic are solely products of modernity, we show how such modes of consciousness and analysis were present in the period of Greek history between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of the Roman Empire. We show how at that period a socio-political situation akin in certain ways to modern ‘globalizing conditions’ generated both an ecumenical sensibility and an ecumenical analytic, the latter most forcefully represented by a revolutionary new genre in historiography called Universal History. By examining the ideas of its most famous practitioner, the historian Polybius, we demonstrate that Universal History both provided a framework for understanding what we today would call ‘globalization’, and exhibited a remarkable degree of reflexive awareness about its own conditions of possibility. We seek to show that an attentiveness to ‘global’ processes and a reflexive understanding of what makes that form of thinking possible in the first place, are not solely confined to modernity but were identifiable features of intellectual production in the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece. In this way we argue that scholars today should not imagine that the contemporary ‘global turn’ in social thought is either unique or wholly historically unprecedented.",
author = "David Inglis and Roland Robertson",
year = "2005",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/1368431005051759",
language = "English",
volume = "8",
pages = "99--122",
journal = "European Journal of Social Theory",
issn = "1368-4310",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Ecumenical Analytic

T2 - ‘Globalization’, Reflexivity and the Revolution in Greek Historiography

AU - Inglis, David

AU - Robertson, Roland

PY - 2005/5/1

Y1 - 2005/5/1

N2 - ‘Globalization’ has become in recent years one of the central themes of social scientific debates. Social theories of globalization may be regarded as specific academic and analytic manifestations of wider forms of ‘global consciousness’ to be found in the social world today. These are ways of thinking and perceiving which emphasize that the whole world should be seen as ‘one place’, its various geographically disparate parts all being interconnected in various complex ways. In this article we set out how both a general ‘ecumenical sensibility’ involving such ways of thinking, and its specifically academic variant, an ‘ecumenical analytic’, are simultaneously responses to ‘globalizing conditions’ and also products of the latter. We demonstrate how social theories of globalization, locatable in the overall set we call the ‘ecumenical analytic’, are reflexive thought-products, in that they both seek to investigate, and are made possible by, ‘globalizing conditions’. Rejecting the view that both an ecumenical sensibility and an ecumenical analytic are solely products of modernity, we show how such modes of consciousness and analysis were present in the period of Greek history between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of the Roman Empire. We show how at that period a socio-political situation akin in certain ways to modern ‘globalizing conditions’ generated both an ecumenical sensibility and an ecumenical analytic, the latter most forcefully represented by a revolutionary new genre in historiography called Universal History. By examining the ideas of its most famous practitioner, the historian Polybius, we demonstrate that Universal History both provided a framework for understanding what we today would call ‘globalization’, and exhibited a remarkable degree of reflexive awareness about its own conditions of possibility. We seek to show that an attentiveness to ‘global’ processes and a reflexive understanding of what makes that form of thinking possible in the first place, are not solely confined to modernity but were identifiable features of intellectual production in the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece. In this way we argue that scholars today should not imagine that the contemporary ‘global turn’ in social thought is either unique or wholly historically unprecedented.

AB - ‘Globalization’ has become in recent years one of the central themes of social scientific debates. Social theories of globalization may be regarded as specific academic and analytic manifestations of wider forms of ‘global consciousness’ to be found in the social world today. These are ways of thinking and perceiving which emphasize that the whole world should be seen as ‘one place’, its various geographically disparate parts all being interconnected in various complex ways. In this article we set out how both a general ‘ecumenical sensibility’ involving such ways of thinking, and its specifically academic variant, an ‘ecumenical analytic’, are simultaneously responses to ‘globalizing conditions’ and also products of the latter. We demonstrate how social theories of globalization, locatable in the overall set we call the ‘ecumenical analytic’, are reflexive thought-products, in that they both seek to investigate, and are made possible by, ‘globalizing conditions’. Rejecting the view that both an ecumenical sensibility and an ecumenical analytic are solely products of modernity, we show how such modes of consciousness and analysis were present in the period of Greek history between the death of Alexander the Great and the rise of the Roman Empire. We show how at that period a socio-political situation akin in certain ways to modern ‘globalizing conditions’ generated both an ecumenical sensibility and an ecumenical analytic, the latter most forcefully represented by a revolutionary new genre in historiography called Universal History. By examining the ideas of its most famous practitioner, the historian Polybius, we demonstrate that Universal History both provided a framework for understanding what we today would call ‘globalization’, and exhibited a remarkable degree of reflexive awareness about its own conditions of possibility. We seek to show that an attentiveness to ‘global’ processes and a reflexive understanding of what makes that form of thinking possible in the first place, are not solely confined to modernity but were identifiable features of intellectual production in the Hellenistic period of ancient Greece. In this way we argue that scholars today should not imagine that the contemporary ‘global turn’ in social thought is either unique or wholly historically unprecedented.

U2 - 10.1177/1368431005051759

DO - 10.1177/1368431005051759

M3 - Article

VL - 8

SP - 99

EP - 122

JO - European Journal of Social Theory

JF - European Journal of Social Theory

SN - 1368-4310

IS - 2

ER -