Aer.Macchi C.202 - 205, 1943-1948

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But therein lies the danger. For it remains true that the attainment of rationality will always be an achievement. So an enquiry into the conditions that enable us to attain that state will never be any the less legitimate, and may in some cases be no less necessary, than an enquiry into the conditions that may prevent us from attaining it. To say all this is not to claim – as Martin Hollis, Alasdair MacIntyre and others have done – that the forms of explanation appropriate to rational and irrational belief must differ because ‘rational belief cannot     For this point see Stove .

For a discussion of Elton’s and Gay’s arguments see Novick , pp. –. The practice of history and the cult of the fact  of the phenomenon of the Enlightenment will inescapably be based on a series of prior judgements about the nature of its most characteristic preoccupations, together with a further series of judgements about how best to illustrate them. But to engage in such judgements is already to recognise that we are, of course, offering only an interpretation. Our resulting survey may be a model of fairminded inclusiveness, but it cannot possibly include everything, and will therefore be open to continuous reinterpretation both by scholars who discover new facts and by scholars who offer new interpretations of the significance of existing ones.

But if this is the issue on which historians are asked to pronounce, then my own answer would be that of course our explanations are bound to vary with whatever judgements we make about truth in this extended sense. If we encounter an ideology that we judge to be true to the needs of the society living under it, we are sure to treat that fact as part of our explanation for its success. If we come upon an ideology that seems demonstrably untrue    Bodin , p. . For a denunciation of Bodin for holding these beliefs see Anglo .

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