Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Causes and Motivations

In a recent post, Dimitri observed “that the principal cause [I would say causes - e] of the war and the principal reasons men fought represent totally different things. The first is an historical conclusion, the second a personal reality in historical time.”

Which brings to mind something I read yesterday:
From our current perspective, it is clear that conflicts over slavery caused the war. But this, most historians also admit, is not the same as explaining what motivated men to enlist and fight. Causes reflect the deep social forces that generate historical change whereas motivations operate on the individual level. . . . If we regard the Civil War as a truly popular conflict, then understanding the relationship between causes and motivations becomes crucial.

Aaron Sheehan-Dean, Why Confederates Fought: Family & Nation in Civil War Virginia, at 13-14.

As Phil Rizzuto would say, "Holy cow!"

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