What does it mean for our understanding of history if we assume that everything is physical and that no immaterial entities, forces, or phenomena exist? A Materialist Philosophy of History: A Realist Antidote to Postmodernism examines the implications of a materialist worldview in contemporary philosophy of history. Materialism has wide-ranging consequences for historical research as well as for the credibility of various conceptions of the historical past. Branko Mitrović shows how these implications pertain both to the nature of social institutions and the capacities of historical figures to decide, act, acquire beliefs, and communicate and to the methodology of historical research and problems, such as the interpretation and the translation of historical documents. A materialist view also entails rejecting the view that forces such as culture, language, or society can construct physical reality or that the historical past is constructed through the work of the historian. This book examines these consequences and presents a comprehensive materialist perspective on historical research and the understanding of the historical past.
Branko Mitrović is professor of architectural history and theory at Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet, Trondheim, Norway.