History on the Move: Reimagining Historical Change and the (Im)possibility of Utopia in the 21st Century

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
Author: Juhan Hellerma1
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  • 1 Department of Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

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In his meticulously researched and conceptually innovative book, Zoltán Boldizsár Simon aims to capture the historical sensibility emergent during the postwar period broadly conceived, spanning from the 1940s to our present moment. Attending particularly to the debates concerning ecological and technological outlooks, Simon theorizes that our historical horizon is increasingly shaped by the expectations of an unprecedented event that challenges the sustainability of the human subject as known today. Arguing that the concept of unprecedented change can best be explained against the backdrop of a modern processual temporal configuration originating in the eighteenth century, Simon likewise probes the same concept to illuminate a distinct relationship with the past. Elaborating on the main ideas of the book, the paper will interrogate critically Simon’s assertion whereby the novel postwar temporality is inherently dystopian, and will negotiate Simon’s engagement with presentism, which he questions as an inaccurate representation of our current regime of historicity.

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