Show Less
Open access

The Historical Distinctiveness of Central Europe

A Study in the Philosophy of History


Krzysztof Brzechczyn

The aim of this book is to explain economic dualism in the history of modern Europe. The emergence of the manorial-serf economy in the Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary in the 16th and the 17th centuries was the result of a cumulative impact of various circumstantial factors. The weakness of cities in Central Europe disturbed the social balance – so characteristic for Western-European societies – between burghers and the nobility. The political dominance of the nobility hampered the development of cities and limited the influence of burghers, paving the way to the rise of serfdom and manorial farms. These processes were accompanied by increased demand for agricultural products in Western Europe

Show Summary Details



Part I On the Nature of the Developmental Differentiation of Central Europe

1 In Defense of the Theory of the Historical Process

1 Introduction

2 On the Schematization of the Theory of the Historical Process

3 On the Prognoses in the Theory of the Historical Process

4 On the Loss of Nostalgia for the Metanarrative

5 On the Teleology of Substantial Philosophy of History

6 On the Need for the Theory of the Historical Process

2 The Concept of Central Europe

1 Introduction

2 On the Criteria of Distinguishing Central Europe

3 On the Borders of Central Europe

4 On the Nature of the Distinctiveness of Central Europe

3 On the Distinctiveness of Central Europe

1 Theories Referring to External Factors

1.1 The Concept of Marian Małowist

1.2 The Concept of Immanuel Wallerstein

2 Theories Referring to Internal Factors

2.1 The Concept of Robert Brenner

2.2 The Concept of Jerzy Topolski

2.3 The Concept of Benedykt Zientara

3 Combined Theories

3.1 The Concept of Daniel Chirot

3.2 The Concept of Władysław Rusiński

3.3 The Concept of Jeremy Blum

3.4 The Concept of Jan Rutkowski

4 A Recapitulation

Part IIMethodological Assumptions

4 The Method of Idealization in the Historical Sciences

1 Idealization in the Social Sciences: Case Studies

2 The Method of Idealization

3 The Idealizational Law and its Concretization

4 Operationalization of the Idealizational Theory

5 On Some Extensions of the Idealizational Theory of Science

5.1 On Different Kinds of Counter-factual Assumptions

5.2 On the Specification of Idealizational Statements

6 The Comparative Method and Idealization

7 The Method of Modeling in the Economic History

7.1 Classification of Economic Models

7.2 Evsey Domar’s Theory of the Rise of Exacerbated Serfdom

7.3 Witold Kula’s Theory of the Feudal System in Poland

7.4 Jerzy Topolski’s Model of Economy of Greater Poland

7.5 Frédéric Mauro’s Theory of Intercontinental Trade

7.6 A Recapitulation

8 The Limitations of the Method of Idealization

5 The Methodological Characterization of the Cascade Effect

1 Two Types of Essential Structures

2 On Small Causes and Huge Effects

3 The Interaction of Factors in the Cascade

4 The Cascade Effect and the Scientific Theory

5 The Cascade Effect and the Historical Narrative

6 The Cascade Effect in Light of Categorial Ontology

7 The Rationale of Idiographism in the History

8 The Cascade Effect and Economic Dualism in Modern Europe

Part IIITheoretical Assumptions

6 The Basic Ideas of Non-Marxian Historical Materialism

1 Presentation of Basic Ideas

1.1 A Typology of Societies

1.2 A Model of Evolution of a Purely Political Society

1.3 The Global Model of a Political Society

2 On the Class Divisions in the State of Teutonic Knights

2.1 Problem

2.2 The Social Structure of the Teutonic State

2.3 Evolution of a Teutonic Society

2.4 Conclusions

3 Alternative History and the Rise of Socialism in Russia

7 Ownership and Revolution in Non-Marxian Historical Materialism

1 On Some Basic Mechanisms of Social Development

1.1 Adaptive Mechanisms

1.2 The Mechanism of a Class Struggle

2 On Two Models of Economic Society

2.1 The Basic Model of Purely Economic Society

2.2 An Economic Model of Feudal Society

3 On Two Types of an Economic Revolutions

3.1 Non-rationalistic Model of a Man

3.2 Critique of the Reconstruction of a Christian Model of Man

3.3 A Non-rationalistic Model of Man in the Area of Economy

3.4 Two Types of Revolutions in the Model of an Economic Society

Part IVThe Conceptualization of the Distinctiveness of Central Europe

8 Models of the Source of a Cascade

1 Model II: An Economic Society with a Surplus of Manpower

1.1 Assumptions of the Model

1.2 Social Resistance of the Unemployed

1.3 Social Resistance of the Employed

1.4 The Image of Social Resistance of Direct Producers

1.5 Development of an Economic Society with a Surplus of Manpower

2 Model III: An Economic Society with a Shortage of Manpower

2.1 Assumptions of the Model

2.2 The Shortage of Manpower versus the Social Resistance

2.3 Development of an Economic Society with a Shortage of Manpower

2.4 A Scope of the Historical Application of Models

9 The Genesis of European Differentiation

1. On the Peculiarities of Feudalism in Central Europe

2. The Emergence of a Cascade of European Differentiation

2.1 The Core of the Cascade of European Differentiation

2.2 The Polish Variant

2.3 The Hungarian Variant

2.4 The Bohemian Variant

3 Summary



Civilizational Dimensions of Non-Marxian Historical Materialism

1. Introduction

2. Civilizational Aspects of Non-Marxian Historical Materialism

3. Social Practice versus Types of Class Stratification

4. Between Ecological Conditions and Socio-economic Practice

An Individual and Two Approaches toward Political Revolution

List of Figures

List of Tables


Name Index

Subject Index