- Aug 2023
- May 2022
Whig history (or Whig historiography), often appearing as whig history, is an approach to historiography that presents history as a journey from an oppressive and benighted past to a "glorious present". The present described is generally one with modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy: it was originally a satirical term for the patriotic grand narratives praising Britain's adoption of constitutional monarchy and the historical development of the Westminster system. The term has also been applied widely in historical disciplines outside of British history (e.g. in the history of science) to describe "any subjection of history to what is essentially a teleological view of the historical process". When the term is used in contexts other than British history, "whig history" (lowercase) is preferred.
Stemming from British history, but often applied in other areas including the history of science, whig history is a historiography that presents history as a path from an oppressive, backward, and wretched past to a glorious present. The term was coined by British Historian Herbert Butterfield in The Whig Interpretation of History (1931). It stems from the British Whig party that advocated for the power of Parliament as opposed to the Tories who favored the power of the King.
It would seem to be an unfortunate twist of fate for indigenous science and knowledge that it was almost completely dismissed when the West began to dominate indigenous cultures during the Enlightenment which was still heavily imbued with the influence of scholasticism. Had religion not played such a heavy role in science, we may have had more respect and patience to see and understand the value of indigenous ways of knowing.
Link this to notes from The Dawn of Everything.