“Herodotean Realism” by Joel Schlosser

Schlosser, Joel Alden. “Herodotean Realism.” Political Theory. 42-3 (2014): 239–61.


With the renaissance of political realism has come an insistence that the study of politics be historically located. While many political realists trace their conception of historical inquiry to Thucydides, this article shows how Herodotus can offer a more realist approach to political phenomena. Herodotus crafts a self-conscious form of historical inquiry that foregrounds the actual activity of the historian as intersubjective, reflective, and particular. Herodotus thus models a historical investigation that shows its own limits while demanding the evaluation of its readers, offering a way to address criticisms of political realism’s singular and unacknowledged historical narratives. Moreover, Herodotus’s Histories exemplify a disposition toward open inquiry among others—what Herodotus calls wonder—that can invigorate responsive curiosity as part of the project of historical understanding essential to both political realism and contemporary democracies.

Sage Publications