Martin L. Davies

Biography and/or project

Broadly my research focuses on the social use of knowledge, particularly academic knowledge, particularly history. It focuses specifically on what history does in a historicized world, a “finite” world already arranged and determined by its history. This approach implies that history is not a natural, autonomous form of knowledge but a symptom of its cognitive situation where all knowledge of history encounters is history’s own world-re-arranging effects. My research, therefore, also focuses on the psychopathology of historicized life: on the self-referential character of historical scholarship which makes it both truthful and illusory. It demonstrates that in a historicized world history is a technical-managerial strategy for making comprehensive sense of it whatever happens. But since what happens, however rational, does not make sense, history’s reliability is dubious. Hence it induces an ethos of apprehension: its self-gratifying veil of illusion conceals existential desolation.