chapter
Introduction
Pages 8

To appreciate the truly revolutionary character of the historicist concept of totality we must briefly recall the traditional understanding of totality which it supplanted. There is every reason to believe that the notion of totality was central to religious mythology and therefore antedates the philosophical tradition altogether. Max Weber argued that totalising religious images were the result of a long process of rationalisation which replaced the fragmented, polyphonic, magical beliefs of earliest antiquity with unifying interpretations of the cosmos as a whole. In any case, we can safely say that the concept of totality is at least as old as philosophy itself. Both religious myth and philosophy purported to supply comprehensive, 'total' explanations/interpretations of the cosmos. We need not dwell on the specificities of myth and philosophy.2 What is significant is that both these cultural forms seem to indicate the invariant cultural need for orientation in the world.