Narrative and Freedom (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
The end of the Cold War and the approach of a new millennium have given increased urgency to one of the central preoccupations of this century: to comprehend the nature of time. Such a preoccupation was the inevitable consequence of Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity and the conceptualization of space as a time-conditioned phenomenon. Yet Einstein’s was hardly the only challenge to inherited notions. Even now, literate publics still strive to grasp the implications of time as described by uniformitarianism in geology. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection presupposed the awesome vistas of time required in the uniformitarian account. Like the limitless space opened up by the Copernican revolution and the invention of the telescope, Darwinian temporal horizons could seem frighteningly distant.
What Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace achieved on the biological level, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels sought in the domain of the historical and economic. Marxists claimed to understand the inner secret of historical development, posing a radical countertheory to the gradualist views held by both liberals and Fabian socialists. Later, Nikolai Kondratiev and John Maynard Keynes offered contrasting theories of the nature and duration of business cycles, while dissenting voices—Dennis Meadows, Herman Daley, and Robert Heilbroner—doubted that either capitalism or socialism had viable answers to the ecological crises. Philosophers of...
(The entire section is 2360 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!