- Dec 2021
Intellectual historians have never really abandoned the GreatMan theory of history. They often write as if all important ideas in agiven age can be traced back to one or other extraordinary individual– whether Plato, Confucius, Adam Smith or Karl Marx – rather thanseeing such authors’ writings as particularly brilliant interventions indebates that were already going on in taverns or dinner parties orpublic gardens (or, for that matter, lecture rooms), but whichotherwise might never have been written down
The Great Man theory of history is the misconception that all the most important ideas can be traced back to a single great individual—usually a man—and ignoring the fact that they had likely been brewing in the social milieu of their time before being encapsulated, like a bug in ember, by a particular writer who then gets an outsized amount of credit for "inventing" the idea.
I wonder if the effect of social media and ubiquity of communication will dampen this effect?