Mr Martin Davies

Emeritus Reader in the History of the European Enlightenment

Martin DaviesContact Details





So naturally does the past take precedence, so pervasive is the cognitive reflex to historicize whatever happens, it seems that any general theory of knowledge must start with a critical theory of historical knowledge. But theory here does not imply anything abstract, anything governed by pre-emptive conceptualizations. Rather it defaults to reality, to the only premise knowledge has, to what Marx in The German Ideology calls ‘real, active human beings and their real life-process ’. Suspending the idea that history is an academic activity sui generis, it analyzes the preoccupation with history as a social practice, the significance of it as a social fact. It offers a phenomenology of history-focussed behaviour. This, the premise of Historics (2006), is further developed in Imprisoned by History (2010).


PhD Supervision

Historics: the philosophy and theory of history; the nature of historical knowledge; European-Jewish philosophy/cultural criticism since Moses Mendelssohn; European Enlightenment and its contemporary implications; and European cultural theory and criticism since the Enlightenment.

Most Recent Publications

  1. The Enlightenment and the Fate of Knowledge, Essays on the Transvaluation of Values (Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2020), xii + 202pp. [ISBN 978-0-367-08689-3]
  2. How History Works. The reconstitution of a human science (Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2016), xiv + 179pp. [ISBN 978-1-138-93212-8]
  3. Imprisoned by History. Aspects of Historicized Life (New York: Routledge, 2010) , xiii + 259pp.
  4. Historics: Why History Dominates Contemporary Society (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006), xii + 287pp.
  5. Identity or History? Marcus Herz and the End of the Enlightenment (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1995), xiv + 344pp.

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