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“…social theorists averted the previously dedicated gaze on a Spirit that moves amongst us in mysterious ways, and sought to shift our attention from a universalizing cosmology to a globalizing horizon where humans make that spirit. This can be described as a shift from cosmology to constructivism. By the early twentieth century, the Spirit in humanity had largely given way to the spirit of humanity.”

“…It is singular. It is the essence of the age. Thus, across the mid-twentieth century to the present, this quest changed in epistemological form, shifting from an emphasis on the couplet of national spirit and world-spirit to a secular conception of the social imaginary.”

Paul James, ‘The Social Imaginary in Theory and Practice’, in Chris Hudson and Erin K. Wilson, eds, Revisiting the Global Imaginary: Theories, Ideologies, Subjectivities (Essays in Honour of Manfred Steger), Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019. pp. 33-34.


Paul James asks, “If humans construct and imagine their worlds, what then is the common grounding condition of that construction? Or, more prosaically, what are the dominant social imaginaries, local and global, through which we as humans live in these worlds?”


My answer is that it is history with the tools of historical sociology. In other words, the generalizations are drawn from the context of each time-space category that we recognise as particularly historical (i.e. each epoch or era, age, and so forth). There is circularity in this reasoning but it is not the vicious cycle.


It is the necessity of the horizon worldview(s) – the changing limits of our collected cognition. None of us are at the end of time-space, and so what is reasoned will always be diverse, partial, and fallible at any point of time-space. However, the more we collectively push the horizon out, the more we can fit the pieces of the puzzle towards a patchwork horizon worldview; where reason works its best.




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Neville Buch (Pronounced Book) Ph.D. is a certified member of the Professional Historians Association (Queensland). Since 2010 he has operated a sole trade business in history consultancy. He was a Q ANZAC 100 Fellow 2014-2015 at the State Library of Queensland. Dr Buch was the PHA (Qld) e-Bulletin, the monthly state association’s electronic publication, and was a member of its Management Committee. He is the Managing Director of the Brisbane Southside History Network.