Other Martin Davies

Emeritus Reader

School/Department: History Politics and International Relations, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2587



In my 35 years at the University I became interested in the way the past naturally takes precedence so pervasive is the cognitive reflex to historicize whatever happens. I realized that any general theory of knowledge must start with a critical theory of historical knowledge. I realized too that theory here avoids anything abstract or governed by pre-emptive conceptualizations. Rather it defaults to the only premise knowledge has to what Marx calls ‘real active human beings and their real life-process ’. Suspending the idea that history is an academic activity sui generis I wanted to analyze the preoccupation with history as a social practice to discover what history actually does. I realized I wanted to produce a phenomenology of history-focussed behaviour.


My research was personally funded. My interests (e.g.) in sociology philosophy anthropology and literature cut across conventional disciplinary boundaries.




  • 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]
  • How History Works. The reconstitution of a human science (Abingdon & New York: Routledge 2016) xiv + 179pp. [ISBN 978-1-138-93212-8]
  • Imprisoned by History. Aspects of Historicized Life (New York: Routledge 2010) xiii + 259pp.
  • Historics: Why History Dominates Contemporary Society (Abingdon: Routledge 2006) xii + 287pp.
  • Identity or History? Marcus Herz and the End of the Enlightenment (Detroit: Wayne State University Press 1995) xiv + 344pp.


  • ‘Selbstdenken oder Wissenschaft? Aufklärung als Infragestellen der Universität’ in 230 Jahre Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung? ed. Carina Pape and Holger Sederström (Hannover: Wehrhahn Verlag 2018) pp.21- 35 [ISBN: 978-3-86525-594-5].
  • Fin de siècle: On the Psychopathology of Historicized Life New Literary Observer [Новое Литературное Обозрение] 149 1 2018 pp.353-73. [ISSN: 0869 6365] (Translated into Russian).
  • ‘The proper study of mankind’: Enlightenment and tautology’ in Thinking about the Enlightenment. Modernity and its Ramifications (Abingdon & New York: Routledge) 2016 xiv + 276pp. pp.227-69. [ISBN: 978-1-138-80182-0].
  • ‘Cognitive Inadequacy: History and the technocratic management of an artificial world’ Rethinking History 20.3 (July 2016) pp. 1-18. - Also in Futures for the Past ed. Kalle Pihlainen (Abingdon: Routledge 2017) pp.20-37 [ISBN: 978-1-138-09533-5].
  • ‘Der Endzeitkomplex: Zur Psychopathologie des historisierten Lebens’ in Die Imaginationen des Endes ed. Aneta Jachimowicz/ Alina Kuzborska/ Dirk Steinhof (Warschauer Studien zur Kultur- und Literaturwissenschaft. Die Reihe hrsg. von Karol Sauerland) (Frankfurt a.M. Peter Lang 2015) pp.185-202.[ISBN 978-3-631-65658-7]."


Before retirement I supervised work on the philosophy of history.


Since retirement I am no longer involved in teaching.

Press and media

What interests me still is the automatic social reflex of invoking history the past when anything new emerges (e.g. world records broken by athletes).
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