In The Structures of History Christopher Lloyd questions whether narration on its own can provide a real understanding of history, and addresses in philosophical and practical terms the fundamental problems of whether it is possible to know and to explain the history of human societies, and if so how these tasks might be approached.
The book revolves around an inquiry into the general nature of historical structures, how these have been studied by historians, anthropologists, sociologists and philosophers, and how they relate to events, actions and beliefs. The author draws upon a wide range of reference in the philosophy of history and science, and in the writings of historians and social scientists during the last two centuries. The thrust of his account is against the relativism of such as Rorty, Foucault and Derrida, and for the complex socio-historical realism exemplified in the writings of Geertz, Gellner, Ladurie and Mann.
Christopher Lloyd concludes that an objective understanding of the past is not an impossible ambition, and he provides a searching analysis of the framework and methods necessary to its realization.