Some historians view the trend toward examining history in terms of a wider Atlantic perspective as a means of strengthening the bonds between Europeans and neo-Europeans in North America, or as a sort of continuation of the spread of European culture across the Atlantic (see for example Bernard Bailyn's Atlantic History, 2005). I posit that the impetus behind the conceptualization of an Atlantic world has more to do with a desire to describe the interconnectedness of peoples, and the symbiotic relationships that formed between people in transatlantic cultures. Nineteenth-century naturalist, philosopher, and explorer Alexander von Humboldt eloquently expressed this belief in the universality of knowledge:
I have the extravagant idea of describing in one and the same work the whole material world – all that we know today of celestial bodies and of life upon the earth – from the nebular stars to the mosses on the granite rocks – and to make this work instructive to the mind, and at the same time attractive, by its vivid language.Like most disciplines, the field of history has become dominated by specialists; modern universities herd scholars into narrowly-channeled lines of inquiry that are not conducive to holistic thinking. Many mainstream historians view the metanarrative and the wide historical perspective as the archaic forms of antiquarians, and the prescient admonition of nineteenth-century geologist Clarence King to “ironize and ridicule specialism” reminds us that this conflict between generalists and specialists has a long history. In light of this disciplinary drive toward narrow specialization, the Atlantic world can also be seen as a form of resistance by historians who reject these notions of how history ought to be told.