Philosophy of History
Philosophy of History
PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY
The term "philosophy of history" probably covers a larger variety of endeavors than similar terms such as "philosophy of law" or "philosophy of science." It is hard to bring under one definition the many philosophical questions and responses that are concerned with history. One reason for this, which has long been acknowledged, is that the English term "history," like its cognates in many Western languages (histoire, Geschichte ), is normally used to refer to two distinct, though related, things. On the one hand it refers to the temporal progression of large-scale human events, primarily but not exclusively in the past; on the other hand, "history" refers to the discipline or inquiry in which knowledge of the human past is acquired or sought. Thus "philosophy of history" can mean philosophical reflection on the historical process itself, or it can mean philosophical reflection on the knowledge we have of the historical process. Philosophers have done both sorts of things, and this has led to a distinction between "substantive" (or sometimes "speculative") and "critical" (or "analytical") philosophy of history. The first is usually considered part of metaphysics, perhaps analogous to the "philosophy of nature," whereas the second is seen as epistemology, as in the "philosophy of science." While this distinction has been useful, it becomes blurred when we find some philosophers doing a mixture of both, and others, while certainly reflecting philosophically on history, doing neither. This entry begins with the standard distinction, only to see it lose some of its usefulness in the course of the exposition.
1. "Substantive" Philosophy of History: Philosophical Reflection on the Historical Process
The term "philosophy of history" originates with Voltaire in the 1760s, but it is most closely associated with German philosophers of the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment periods: Kant, Herder, Hegel, and Marx. Hegel's "Lectures on the Philosophy of History," delivered in the 1820s and published shortly after his death, have dominated the discussion. The lectures represent Hegel at the height of his influence, and their relatively brief (less than a hundred pages) introduction is as clear and straightforward as it is comprehensive. Soon translated into other languages (e.g., English in 1857), it is probably the most widely read of Hegel's works. So great was Hegel's impact that his approach to history became paradigmatic not only for many who followed his lead, but also for those who later attacked the very project of the philosophy of history. What is more, philosophers who reflected on history before Hegel are often thought to have been engaged in the same kind of inquiry he was. But this is anachronistic, and misleading. The substantive philosophy of history is often described, in keeping with Hegel, as the search for the meaning and purpose of world history, and for the force that drives history toward its goal. While this describes many instances of reflection on the historical process, it is a simplification and is not necessarily an apt description of philosophical thought about history prior to Hegel. The most general description of the substantive philosophy of history is that the philosopher tries to "make sense" of the historical process, usually in the face of evidence to the contrary. But the "sense" that the philosopher seeks varies considerably: sometimes it is rational sense, sometimes moral sense, sometimes religious sense.
Philosophical reflection on the historical process seems to originate in early Christian philosophy, which is in turn indebted to the Jewish conception of time. The Hebrew scriptures introduce historical time into a world dominated by cyclical and ahistorical conceptions of time. Indian, Persian, and Greek thought are based on unchanging patterns and eternal recurrence, in which individual events, both natural and human, get whatever significance they have from reflecting, imitating, or instantiating these timeless forms. The sequence of individual events is not "going anywhere." Their essence, what gives them their being, lies outside of time altogether. In spite of the compelling historical accounts left by Herodotus and Thucydides, for Greek philosophers even political arrangements—constitutions such as aristocracy, monarchy, democracy—are portrayed, in the classical texts of Plato and Aristotle, for example, as following cyclical patterns of rise, fall and repetition.
By contrast, for the ancient Jews, human events—both political and religious—get their significance not from a "vertical" and imitative relation to eternal patterns, but from a "horizontal" relation backward and forward to other events in real time: backwards to creation, Adam's fall, God's covenant with his people, its captivity, exile, rulers, and heroes, and so on; forward to the redemption of God's people with the coming of the Messiah. Time is the story of a people's progress from creation through perils, dangers, and risks to final salvation. Christianity takes up this historical conception of time and intensifies it, first by affirming the coming of the Messiah as a central, real historical event, in the middle of history, as it were, pointing ahead to a final salvation in the second coming; and second, by extending the promise of salvation to all mankind through a progressive spread and universal triumph of Christianity. Creation, the fall, incarnation, and last judgment are unique, unrepeatable occurrences, and individual events and deeds, both human and divine, are arrayed along a line of time that extends from beginning to end. Given this conception, events are coming from somewhere and are going somewhere in time. Origin and destiny give meaning to human events and actions.
This conception of historical time is not itself a philosophy of history but a cultural and religious worldview. Philosophical reflection begins when this conception generates problems, as it did in the age of Augustine. This philosopher struggled with problems of good and evil, freedom and divine justice, responsibility and punishment. History entered the picture when these concepts were projected onto the stage of the large-scale social events of his own time. The conversion of the Roman Empire under Constantine (323 CE) was seen by early Christian theologians as the vindication of their religion and the harbinger of its eventual triumph throughout the world. During Augustine's time (354–430) the empire was under attack by barbarians, Rome itself had been invaded, and the empire seemed in danger of destruction. Pagans took this as a sign that Christianity was responsible for the demise of the empire, and Christians wondered why God seemed to be punishing Rome rather than rewarding it for its conversion and crowning it with glory. Here it was historical developments, rather than just evil deeds and events, that seemed at odds with religious doctrine, and this constituted the problem Augustine felt the need to solve, addressing both pagan and Christian audiences.
In response, Augustine denied that salvation and divine justice were to be sought in human secular history or its political or even religious institutions. Instead, they were to be found in the City of God, whose citizens have their real life outside secular time. Augustine had already considered the notion of time as limited by eternity in trying to reconcile free will and God's foreknowledge. Augustine's response to the problem of history was to seek the meaning and purpose of history not in history itself, but rather outside of time altogether. In Augustine's thought, the Platonic conception of the timeless realm triumphs over the religious view of history handed down from Judaism and Christianity. As often occurs in the history of Christian thought, Greek philosophy comes to the rescue of the religious worldview. At the same time Augustine inaugurates the tradition of Christian apologetics, later called theodicy: justifying God's ways to humans. Because of the presuppositions that frame Augustine's whole discussion, his project might best be called a theology of history.
Two things should be noted about history as Augustine conceives it: First, as we have noted, its purpose and goal lie not in historical time but outside and beyond it; second, in spite of Augustine's emphasis on human freedom, the driving force behind historical change, what links human events to their ultimate purpose, is the divine will. These two features of history remained more or less constant in the Christian tradition until the time of the enlightenment. Jacques Bénigne Bossuet's Discourse on Universal History (1681) still shares in this conception. He sees the world in apparent moral disorder, with the authority of the church being challenged, but assures his readers of the guidance of divine providence and the ultimate salvation of the faithful.
Giambattista Vico, in the New Science (1725–1730), also appeals to the idea of providence, but his approach to history is more novel and more modern, because he thinks of providence as embodied in rational, developmental laws rather than acts of divine intervention. He also believes that providence uses narrow human self-interest and self-love to further its own higher ends, a concept usually seen as foreshadowing Hegel's idea of the cunning of reason. Vico is also known for dignifying historical knowledge, in the face of both ancient and modern disdain for it when compared to our knowledge of nature. Because human beings make history through their own acts, Vico believes, they are capable of knowing it. Because God creates nature, only he can truly know it. In this Vico challenges his contemporaries, the Cartesian defenders of the new mathematical science of nature as the paradigm for all knowledge.
In the French Enlightenment, humans take center stage and their reason makes them capable of shaping their own destinies. Human events come under calculation and control. The future is no longer something to be prophesied or predicted, but something to be produced. The legitimacy of rulers can be questioned, and the people can overthrow them. History begins to look like a progress from a past of darkness and superstition into the light of reason and human self-determination. The purpose and goal of history now lies not outside and beyond it, but within it at some attainable point in the future. It is the result of human rather than divine agency, and it is now conceived not as salvation but as emancipation.
Even though Voltaire introduces the term "philosophy of history" it is possible to argue that his view of history, shared by the enlightenment philosophes and the revolutionaries of the eighteenth century, was not so much a philosophical reflection on history but again, like the religion of the Jews and early Christians, an emerging political and cultural worldview. The philosophy of history begins, as before, when this worldview generates problems. The late enlightenment period produced a vast new literature of discovery and travel, which led among other things to the beginnings of history as something like an academic discipline with critical methods and justifiable assertions. While this trend was not completed until the nineteenth century, even its beginnings allowed for a new distinction between our warranted knowledge of the past and our beliefs about history's overall direction and goal.
Thus Kant's forays into the philosophy of history tend to raise critical questions about what the enlightenment philosophers never doubted. A late text (1798) bears the title "An old question raised again: is the human race constantly progressing?" But even his earlier essay, "Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View" (1784), his major contribution to the philosophy of history, argues only for the limited thesis that the course of past history "permits us to hope" for "a steady and progressive though slow evolution" toward a better state for mankind (1963, p. 11). Kant wants to share the enlightenment point of view, just as he wants to endorse the claims of natural theology, but his critical reason forces him to limit its pretensions. As should be expected when reading Kant, of course, in no way is the idea of divine providence taken for granted. Progress in history, should it be found, would be toward "the achievement of a universal civic society which administers laws among men" (p. 16), which is "the most difficult and the last [problem] to be solved by mankind" (p. 17). He discusses at some lengths the difficulties of such an achievement, asserting as he does elsewhere that it would require solving "the problem of a lawful external relation among states" (p. 18). This is the greatest difficulty of all, because we can see the same antagonism among states as among individuals, which has led again and again to war. But after "devastations, revolutions, and even complete exhaustion," nature brings states to the realization that they must move "from the lawless condition of savages into a league of nations" (p. 19).
By the time he reaches this point the status of Kant's discourse on history should be clear to the reader. He is not making claims about the actual course of history; rather, he is outlining the ideal conditions under which alone, he thinks, history could exhibit any progress. Because these conditions are in his day far from having been realized, Kant's claims are clearly prescriptive and moral in character. Thus he can assure practicing historians that he is making no attempt to displace their work, because he is propounding an Idea of world history based upon an a priori principle (p. 25), an "[I]dea of how the course of the world must be if it is to lead to certain rational ends" (p. 24).
By using the term "Idea," a terminus technicus from the Critique of Pure Reason, which the translators signal by means of capitalization, Kant indicates a rational concept whose empirical reality not only is not, but, according to the Critique, cannot be exhibited in experience. But, like human freedom itself, neither can its possibility be empirically denied. Thus the course of history does not provide evidence that the "civic union of the human race" will ever be achieved, but neither does it prove that it never will be. Its realization must at least be regarded as possible, and the Idea that we have of it may help bring it to pass (p. 24). Kant is telling us not where history is going but where it ought to be going. Only in this minimal sense can philosophy help "make sense" of history, namely by articulating the "cosmopolitan standpoint" from which alone it can be freed from its apparent moral chaos. And by showing that its moral realization is at least possible, it "permits us to hope" for a better future. Kant's concept of hope is usually associated with his philosophy of religion and refers to the individual's hope for salvation in the world to come. But here he rationally justifies hope for a better future for mankind on earth.
In Idea for a Universal History, the concepts of a universal civic society, or league of nations, and of history as progressing toward it, legitimize certain political choices. They are Ideas capable of guiding our action in the social sphere. Kant is anticipating the project of expanding his ethical principles, with such notions as a kingdom of ends, into a political theory. Ethics and politics alike belong to Kant's practical philosophy, not his theoretical philosophy. Their central concern is not with what is the case but with what we ought to do. And the same is true of his philosophy of history.
Johann Gottfried von Herder, a younger contemporary of Kant's, is another German philosopher who reacts critically to the enlightenment's views of history. In his Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (1784–1791), he undertakes a universal history, and for him, as for Voltaire, this means expanding the traditional scope of history to include non-European peoples. But Herder takes this insight in a different direction. While the thinkers of the French Enlightenment sought proof of the universality of human reason, Herder by contrast is struck by the diversity and particularity of human nature, embodied in distinct peoples and cultures. Rejecting the Enlightenment's emphasis on reason, legislation and science, Herder sees human nature in the expressions of feeling, such as art, music, poetry, and custom.
The Enlightenment philosophers saw the growth of scientific rationality expanding to the political realm and imagined a future in which reason triumphed over the dark forces of superstition and emotion. Herder, with his emphasis on diversity and culture, was less convinced that history was moving in any unified direction, much less a progressive one. True, his devout Protestantism kept him from embracing the complete cultural relativism that many would later draw from his work. But in contrast to Kant, whose sympathies still lie with the Enlightenment, Herder becomes one of the first great figures of the Romantic movement that grew up in opposition to it.
It is against this background of the Enlightenment and its German critics that Hegel's classic text must be understood. He begins by distinguishing a "philosophische Weltgeschichte" from history proper; philosophy, he says, has "thoughts of its own," a priori thoughts, to bring to the study of history (1988, p. 10). But the "only" thought that philosophy brings to the study of history is that of reason—"that reason rules the world," and thus that world history like everything else can be seen as a rational or reasonable (vernünftig ) affair (p. 12). Reason not only sets the goal for history but also governs the realization of that goal. Hegel did not invent this idea, he reminds us; the idea that reason rules the world is that of Anaxagoras, and it has also been expressed in the idea of divine providence. This too suggests a rational plan, God's plan, but providence is usually portrayed as being hidden from us. Unwilling to settle for pious ignorance, Hegel believes that the rationality of providence can be known and explained. If we take seriously the idea of providence, the demonstration of its rationality would amount to a theodicy or "justification of God" (p. 18).
The embodiment of reason is spirit (Geist ), both in individuals and in peoples, whose nature is to be conscious and self-conscious, and whose actualization is to be autonomous and self-sufficient, that is, to be free. But this actualization is a temporal process, and that process is history. Spirit actualizes itself and achieves freedom through history, drawing its energy from human passions and intentions; but the result of this process is often at odds with the actual intentions of the individuals and peoples involved. It is here that Hegel's speaks of the "cunning of reason" (p. 35), because reason achieves ends of its own by using the ends of others. In history, it is only when individuals and peoples organize themselves into states that freedom can finally be truly actualized. It is here, in law, the ethical life of the community and political order, not in the mere absence of constraint, that the "positive reality and satisfaction of freedom" are to be found (p. 41).
The actual course of history can be seen as the display of human perfectibility leading toward the realization of freedom. This pathway is not a smooth one, however, but consists in the spirit's "hard and endless struggle against itself." Spirit hides its own nature from itself, and is even "proud and full of enjoyment in this self-estrangement" (p. 59). Individuals and peoples struggle against each other, and many morally good and virtuous people suffer unjustly. But history moves on a different plane, and here the acts of individuals, especially those of the great figures of history, are not to be judged by moral standards. It is the spirit of peoples, not individuals, that are the agents of history, but these, "progressing in a necessary series of stages, are themselves only phases of the one universal Spirit: through them, that World Spirit elevates and completes itself in history, into a self-comprehending totality " (p. 82). The self-comprehension of world spirit is philosophy itself.
In several places Hegel presents in the broadest outlines the necessary stages through which the world spirit has passed on its path toward the realization of freedom. In the ancient "oriental" world only one—the emperor or tyrant—is free. In the Greek and Roman worlds only some persons are free. It was first the "Germanic peoples, through Christianity, who came to the awareness that every human is free by virtue of being human" (p. 21). The realization of freedom is the goal that gives meaning to what happens in history, and this realization takes place within history itself, not beyond it. Moreover, it has occurred or is occurring in "our world," "our time" (Hegel 1956, p.524).
Karl Marx is usually seen as a continuation of the classical period of the philosophy of history. Marx admitted some indebtedness to Hegel, but thought of himself as the anti-Hegel, whose idealism "stands on its head" and "must be turned right side up again." More important, Marx rejected not only Hegel, and Hegel's philosophy of history, but academic philosophy as a whole, wanting to be read and understood strictly as a social theorist and reformer. Yet it seems beyond doubt that Marx expounds a philosophy of history in the "classical" sense. Even understood as a blueprint for reform or revolution, his work is founded on and cannot be understood apart from an account of history. This account is summarized neatly by his collaborator, Friedrich Engels, in his preface to the 1888 English edition of the Communist Manifesto, in which he states what he calls the "fundamental proposition of Marxism." "In every historical epoch," Engels writes, "the prevailing mode of economic production and exchange and the social organization necessarily following from it" form the basis of that epoch. "Consequently the whole history of mankind … has been a history of class struggles, contests between exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes." The outcome of this history is that "nowadays, a stage has been reached" where the emancipation of the exploited and oppressed class—the proletariat—from the exploiting and ruling class—the bourgoisie—would entail "at the same time, and once and for all, emancipating society at large from all exploitation, oppression, class distinctions, and class struggles" (Marx and Engels 1998, p. 48). The notion of history as class struggle recalls Hegel's description of the spirit's "hard and endless struggle against itself," its "self-estrangement" in which it "must overcome itself as its own truly hostile hindrance" (Hegel 1988, p. 59). In the background of these descriptions is Hegel's famous account in his Phenomenology of Spirit of the struggle between master and servant, an account that can be interpreted in economic and material terms, and which is certainly an account of exploitation and oppression. As Marx admits, this is the origin of a "dialectic" account of the movement of history, which Marx appropriates for his own purposes.
Different as they are from each other to their adherents, Hegel and Marx both reveal their indebtedness to the Enlightenment. For both, it is human affairs and strivings, not divine actions, that drive history, and its purpose or culmination, conceived not as salvation but emancipation, lies within history, not outside or beyond it. Yet unlike the Enlightenment idea of progress, their conception seems to require an end of history. Hegel often speaks as if it has already arrived, and Marx projects it into the near future. Both are unclear what happens after that.
This was but one of many conceptual problems that led to widespread criticism of Hegel's and Marx's philosophies of history and to a general mistrust of the whole project. The idea of attributing a purpose or goal to history as a whole became suspect. Hegel's speculative idealism fell on hard times, and his philosophy of history was seen as the worst manifestation of its extravagant pretensions. It was also read by many, rightly or wrongly, as a glorification of the Prussian monarchy as the culmination of history. Marx's apparent belief in an inevitable outcome of history was not widely accepted by philosophers, even those sympathetic to his proposed political and social reforms; only the official orthodoxy of the Soviet Union and other communist states took it seriously. Sweeping treatments of history as a whole and the rise and fall of civilizations, such as Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West (1918–1922) and Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History (1934–1954), were reviewed in the popular press, but not taken seriously by academic philosophers.
The criticism of the philosophy of history reached a high point in the years following World War II and came from different directions. Karl Loewith (Meaning in History, 1949) argued that the classical philosophy of history was a secularized version of the Christian story of salvation, that is, religion in disguise. Karl Popper (The Poverty of Historicism, 1957) denounced it as pseudoscience. Both studies linked it to the development of twentieth-century totalitarianism. Positivists and analytic philosophers rejected it as an incoherent and unrealizable philosophical project.
Something resembling the classical philosophy of history stayed alive, in milder form, in European and North American Marxism. With the discovery and publication of Marx's early writings in the early 1930s and after, a fuller picture emerged of Marx the thinker, different from the Marx of Soviet propaganda. In particular, the full sense of Marx's indebtedness to Hegel, and his connection to the young, "left" Hegelians became clearer, something that had already been argued by Georg Lukacs in his History and Class Consciousness (1923). Marx also influenced the work of many historians, especially in Britain and France. Thus in Western eyes Marx took his place belatedly as a "respectable" philosopher in the Hegelian and post-Hegelian tradition, a development Marx himself would probably not have welcomed. This in turn led to a new assessment of Hegel himself in light of his influence on Marx.
Thus a tendency developed in the 1930s and after to read Hegel through the eyes of Marx and vice versa. This happened in France under the influence of Alexandre Kojeve and Jean Hyppolite, and in Germany through the "Frankfurt School" of Herbert Marcuse, Max Horkheimer, and Theodore Adorno. In this tradition Hegel and Marx were read not so much as making metaphysical or quasi-scientific claims about the direction or outcome of history as offering blueprints for political action and social analysis. Like Kant, they were outlining the conditions under which history could make sense, rather than asserting that it does.
Western Marxism remained strong in Europe and later in America through the Cold War period, but by the 1980s French philosophers began to turn away. The "grand narratives" of both Marxism and the capitalist idea of progress were seen by such thinkers as Jean-Francois Lyotard and Michel Foucault as belonging to a period of "modernity" that was coming to an end and giving way to a "postmodern" age. These and other philosophers, who came to be identified with the "postmoderns" label, thought of themselves as continuing the attack on the substantive philosophy of history that had begun a century before, but broadening it to include the Enlightenment idea of human progress, linked to science and technology, still held by many in the West. Defenders of the Enlightenment project, such as Jürgen Habermas, feared that this wholesale rejection of the Enlightenment was a new kind of antirationalism and a rejection of important human values. The postmoderns tend to see in any overarching or "totalizing" set of values the specter of oppression.
These debates have generally not been interpreted as continuations of the classical philosophy of history, but both sides can be seen as thinking about history and its direction in broad terms. And both sides share the ultimate value of emancipation as the key to progress in history. Though the explicit pursuit of questions in the style of the classical philosophy of history is rare, there have been recent examples. The collapse of the Soviet Union, and the trend away from dictatorships and toward democracies in Latin America and elsewhere in the 1990s, inspired Francis Fukuyama (The End of History and the Last Man, 1992), to revive Hegel's idea of the End of History. The march toward freedom announced by Hegel, he argued, long discredited by the atrocities of the twentieth century, could now be seen to be back on track. Fukuyama's thesis did not attract many adherents; was soon thought, like Hegel's, to be refuted by events; and was treated by many as an artifact of its time. The same, of course, could be said of the grandiose claims of Hegel and Marx—or indeed of any other philosopher.
The persistence and recurrence of philosophical reflections on the course of history as a whole, as in the case of the debates about modernity and of Fukuyama's book, indicate that the substantive philosophy of history may not have completely disappeared. Perhaps the need to make sense of history, and the continued existence of cultural worldviews about history, such as the idea of progress, will always push philosophers to look at history as a whole in search of its meaning and purpose—or to deny that it has any.
2. "Critical" Philosophy of History: Philosophical Reflection on Historical Knowledge
Serious discussion of questions about historical knowledge began in the nineteenth century, when the substantive philosophy of history had passed its peak in Hegel and history had established itself as a serious discipline in the academy. Prior to the late Enlightenment period, history was generally conceived as a literary genre more valued for the moral and practical lessons it could derive from past events than for its accuracy in portraying them. In some ways the substantive philosophy of history, looking for purpose and meaning in the whole of history, was simply a more sweeping and more pretentious version of ordinary historical discourse. By the middle of the nineteenth century, important new historical studies of antiquity and the middle ages had appeared. Beginning in Germany, history had acquired the dignity and trappings of a Wissenschaft, complete with critical methods for evaluating sources and justifying its assertions. The great historian Leopold von Ranke, one of the leading figures of the "historical school" in Germany, was explicitly repudiating the idea of history as edifying moral discourse when he famously claimed that the purpose of his historical work was simply to show the past "as it really was" (zeigen, wie es eigentlich gewesen ).
For philosophers from Descartes through Kant, mathematics and mathematical natural science had served as the paradigm case of knowledge of the real world. How did the newly flourishing knowledge of the historical past fit in? Some philosophers, such as John Stuart Mill and those in the "positivist" tradition inaugurated by Auguste Comte, argued for the unity of all knowledge and tried to assimilate history to science. Just as physics formulated the laws of nature, and explained events by their means, the science of society would seek out social laws; history was just a case of applying these laws to the past.
Led by the neo-Kantians (e.g., Wilhelm Windelband, Heinrich Rickert,) and by Wilhelm Dilthey, German philosophers questioned this understanding of historical knowledge, focusing on the fact that its object is not natural occurrences but human actions. With history in mind, they began to work out the idea of Geisteswissenschaften or sciences of the human spirit, in contrast to the sciences of nature. Not only is the object of history different from that of the natural sciences, they maintained, its aim is also different: it is concerned with individual events and courses of events for their own sake, not in order to derive general laws from them (it is "idiographic" rather than "nomothetic"). Moreover, because human actions are at the center of historical concern, to give an account is often to understand the subjective thoughts, feelings, and intentions of the persons involved rather than to relate external events to their external causes ("understanding" rather than "explanation"). For some philosophers, this made it inevitable that the historian's value judgments would enter into the account of events and actions, and that the "objectivity" so prized in natural science was neither attainable nor desirable.
This opposition between "positivists" and what we might call the "humanists" on the status of historical knowledge, begun in the nineteenth century, continued to shape the epistemology of history well into the twentieth century. Those positivists who accepted the humanists' description of historical knowledge could not consider history to be a genuine science. Those humanists who wanted to defend history as offering genuine knowledge of the past had to contend that the natural sciences did not offer the only model for what qualifies as knowledge. Among the latter, two notable attempts to characterize historical knowledge are those of Benedetto Croce and R. G. Collingwood (1999). Both argued that historical understanding of the past requires moving from action as an external event (e.g., Caesar leading his army across the Rubicon) to the reconstruction of the "inside" of the event: the experience or thought of the agent that motivated it.
Some of the issues that concerned philosophers of history were reflected in the work of historians as well. With the rise of the social sciences in the twentieth century (sociology, anthropology, political science), many historians coveted a place among them, arguing that history had to be "objective" and "value-free." If that meant ignoring the subjective motivations of historical agents, so be it. They borrowed quantitative methods from the social sciences and applied them to the study of the past. Leading the way were the historians of the Annales school in France, beginning in the 1930s. Its best-known theoretician, Fernand Braudel, argued that history should shift its focus from the "surface" ripples of political history to the deeper-lying and slower-moving currents of social, economic, and geographical change. The move toward social history had a large impact on the discipline, and it was partly motivated by the desire to make history more "objective"—but only partly. Braudel's view reflected something closer to the substantive than to the critical philosophy of history, namely a belief about what the historical process really is.
Among philosophers, the positivist conception of historical knowledge was revived in the 1940s, under the aegis of the unity-of-science movement in analytical philosophy, by Carl G. Hempel. The focus was on the idea of historical explanation : Does history merely describe events, or does it try to explain them? And if it explains them, how does its mode of explanation compare with explanation in natural science?
Hempel argued that history does attempt to explain events, not merely describe them, and it does so according to a pattern no different from that found in the natural sciences: it brings events under general laws that allow us to show how they follow from their antecedents. Given such a law, the event to be explained should be logically deducible from its antecedents. Critics such as William Dray (1989) objected to Hempel's "covering law theory" (as Dray called it) on several grounds. Dray did not dispute the claim that history often tries to explain events, but, following Collingwood, he argued that a satisfying historical explanation often consists of reconstructing the reasons behind an action rather than finding its external causes. Further, it is hard to find general laws, of the kind that would be comparable to physical laws, being articulated in historical work.
Hempel conceded that historical accounts bear little surface resemblance to scientific explanations, that they seem to offer merely probabilistic rather than deductive explanations, and that their accounts are often just "sketches" of more complete explanations. But in doing so, he revealed the strongly prescriptive character of his account—a character it shared with much of the epistemology of his day. The implication was that if history could not live up to the standard of natural science, it could not qualify as genuine knowledge. Dray's larger objection to Hempel's approach was that philosophers should pay attention to what historians actually do, and to the wide variety of conceptual strategies in their work, rather than prescribing standards derived from abstract logical analysis or reducing their work to an imitation of a different, and equally idealized, endeavor. In this he was a harbinger of a trend in analytic epistemology that eventually extended even to the philosophy of natural science itself.
Nevertheless, the discussion of history among analytic philosophers in the 1950s was dominated by the theme of causal explanation, and above all by the contrast with the natural sciences. Hempel's proposal set the tone. Even those such as Dray, who argued for the autonomy of historical knowledge, shared this preoccupation. Thus the confrontation of "positivists" with "humanists" continued. At the same time, the discussion extended to other, related topics.
One distinction that was much discussed in this literature was that between history and chronicle. It was agreed that history had to do more than just list facts. As Morton White put it schematically in his Foundations of Historical Knowledge (1965):
The chronicler is likely to tell us: "The king of England died, and then the queen of England died, and then the prince of England died, and then the princess of England died"… But a corresponding history may read: "The king of England died, so the queen of England grieved. Her grief led to her death. Her death led the prince to worry, and he worried to the point of suicide. His death made the princess lonely, and she died of that loneliness.…" (1965, p. 223)
A chronicle simply lists a series of events in the order in which they happened, but according to White, "a history contains causal statements" (p. 223). But what kind of causation do emotions have? Even they seem to have the teleological character of reasons. The distinction between chronicle and history raises further problems. The chronicle involves more than a simple statement of facts. The historian has selected, from all the possible facts there are, some that are relevant to the story that is to be told. The problem of selection relates to the problem of historical objectivity, because even if facts are established by careful critical methods, the decision of which ones to look for, and which to include in a historical account, may derive from the interests and values of the historian.
Another problem, related to explanation, had to do with the nature of the explanandum in historical accounts. What do historians explain? The distinction between explanation and understanding, or between explanation by causes vs. explanation by reasons, may be relevant to the discussion of individual persons and their actions. But in history the focus is more often on large-scale entities such as nations, peoples, and classes, and on events such as wars, revolutions, and economic crises. We often impute actions or mental states to states or groups, as when we say that "Congress decided," "Japan was offended," "organized labor was fed up," and the like. To what extent are these expressions just shorthand for references to the actions or feelings of individuals? If these large-scale entities do not themselves act and feel, are they subject to causal explanation, and if so what kind? Are there social laws governing the behavior of such entities and the occurrence of such events, which can be discovered independently of reference to the individuals that make them up, as methodological holists believe? Or must everything be traced, at least implicitly, to individuals? These are questions, of course, that arise in the social sciences generally and are not peculiar to history.
Positivism, reductionism, and the unity-of-science movement gradually lost their hold on analytic philosophy, largely under the influence of the later Wittgenstein, and philosophy of science was itself transformed. Arthur Danto, whose Analytical Philosophy of History appeared in 1965, later wrote an essay called "The Decline and Fall of the Analytical Philosophy of History" (1995). Danto claimed that Hempel's project was one of the many casualties of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). In an ironic reversal of fortune, worthy of a good novel, the attempt to absorb the philosophy of history into the philosophy of science was upended when science was reconceived as an essentially historical phenomenon and the philosophy of science became a branch of the philosophy of history—or at least of history proper. Epistemology was now devoted to describing what scientists actually did, rather than producing idealized and prescriptive accounts, and this meant following their work historically.
Danto was too hard on himself, however, when he described himself retrospectively as pursuing a Hempelian program. His Analytical Philosophy of History was actually itself part of a revolution going on the philosophy of history in the 1960s. The model for the philosophical understanding of history was shifting from science to literature. The old idea of history as a literary genre was revived. While Danto continued to think of history as explaining events causally, his account of how it does this drew heavily on the concept of storytelling or narrative. The concept of narrative had been used before in analytic philosophy, to distinguish between chronicle and history, but Danto's sophisticated treatment of it was explicitly modeled on literary narratives such as novels. At the heart of Danto's account is the idea that in a historical narrative, as in a good story, events are selected and described retrospectively with reference to later events. Thus the temporal character of events, and the temporal position of the narrator in relation to them, determines the structure of a historical account.
But Danto was not alone in looking to the literary model. W. B. Gallie had published a book called Philosophy and Historical Understanding (1964) whose premise was that "history belongs to the genus 'story.'" With the work of Louis Mink in the early 1970s (later collected in Historical Understanding, 1987), the trend was well under way to look at narrative as a "cognitive instrument" and history as "mode of comprehension" (these are Mink's terms) based on narrative. Some analytic philosophers (e.g., Maurice Mandelbaum and Leon Goldstein) objected to the emphasis on narrative for favoring the literary presentation of history over the hard work of discovery, evaluation of sources and critical hypothesis that lies behind it. History, they said, is a disciplined inquiry whose goal is knowledge. Narrative is merely the way—indeed only one way—its results are "written up" for public consumption. But Mink's idea is that narrative is more than just literary presentation. It constitutes a conceptual framework for dealing with human events, utterly distinct from scientific explanation, which is entirely appropriate to history. Danto later calls narrative the "metaphysics of everyday life" (Danto 1985, p. xiv).
In literary theory, of course, the study of narrative had a long tradition and had produced a number of classic studies in the English-speaking world. The rise of French structuralist literary theory in the 1960s had also involved considerable focus on narrative, drawing on the earlier work of theorists from Eastern Europe such as Roman Jakobson and Vladimir Propp. But literary theory and the philosophy of history had little contact until the appearance of Hayden White's Metahistory in 1973. Drawing on the literary theories of Northrup Frye, Roland Barthes, and others, White produced a theory of narrative in general that he then applied to history by examining the work of both classical historians (Ranke, Michelet) and philosophers of history (Hegel, Marx). White (1973) argues that their work is guided by the same plot structures—romance, comedy, tragedy, and satire—that govern the production of literary texts. White's book was widely influential but also highly controversial, especially among historians, because White seemed to be portraying their work as guided by literary motives, or motifs, rather than by the project of telling the truth about the past.
By this time the study of narrative was burgeoning on all sides, with a lot of emphasis on the fact that narrative or storytelling is a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary phenomenon sui generis, turning up not only in history and fiction, but also in films, folktales, medical case histories, psychotherapy, medieval altar paintings and tapestries, comic strips, court testimony, and so on. Some theorists proposed a new discipline, to be called "narratology," which would seek out the common features of narrative in all its manifestations. Under the broadening influence of both Hayden White (1973) and structuralist and poststructuralist theories of literature, the works of historians were studied as examples of narrative form.
At a time when many historians, as noted earlier, were trying to escape traditional approaches by shifting the focus of history away from human actions, there was much difference of opinion on whether narrative was essential to history at all. Annales historians in France, and quantitative historians ("cliometricians") elsewhere, disdained traditional historical language and thought narrative dispensable. Those who followed the trend toward the history of "mentalites," or social attitudes and thought patterns, implicitly agreed. The point was made that histories have not always told stories. White, by contrast, argued that even such standard examples of nonnarrative history as Burkhard's Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy and Huizinga's Waning of the Middle Ages, were implicit or truncated literary narratives. Paul Ricoeur in Time and Narrative (1983) made a similar claim about Braudel's The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World, the example par excellence of the Annales school's nonnarrative approach, arguing that large-scale "quasi-persons" turned up in "quasi-plots" in Braudel's work, a kind of narrative in disguise.
3. Postmodern Skepticism and Its Critics
To the outside observer it might seem that with this shift to the discussion of narrative, the epistemological questions that originally motivated the "critical" philosophy of history were gradually fading from view. In the work of Danto, Mink, and Gallie, the concept of narrative had evolved, partly in reaction to the positivist program of Hempel, within the world of analytical philosophy, and it was undoubtedly part of the critical or epistemological reflection on historical knowledge. Even though these thinkers increasingly took literature as their model for understanding history, they were still interested in history's cognitive role. But when this tradition collided with structuralism in Hayden White's work, and with the larger, more literary world of narratology, the problem of knowledge seemed to lose its interest. The focus had shifted from history as knowledge to the historical text as literary artifact (as White called it). While this development is sometimes called the "linguistic turn" in the philosophy of history, it is more properly called the turn to the text. Literary analysis had apparently replaced epistemology.
This is only partly true, however, as there was more to the structuralist and poststructuralist treatment of history than just literary interest. Their analysis contained a profoundly skeptical view of history as a claim to knowledge. They were inclined to see narrative structure as an a priori cultural form imposed on the real world, an alien structure that by its very nature distorted or misrepresented the messy and chaotic character of human life and action. Their model was fiction, and they saw narrative originating in the literary imagination or the archetypical plot structures embedded in culture. As for history, which pretends to represent the past as it really was, here narrative inevitably achieves the opposite effect, according to them. At best it dresses up reality, reflecting our need for satisfying coherence, and, if we really believe it, derives from wishful thinking. Far from reflecting reality, it escapes from it. At worst, narrative in its role as the "voice of authority" seeks to put across a moral view of the world in the interests of power and manipulation. This skeptical view was increasingly expressed in the writings of Hayden White, after Metahistory, and to some extent in those of Mink as well.
There is some irony in this development. The turn to narrative had begun as an attempt to defend the autonomy of history against the claim that it had to be transformed into science in order to be genuine knowledge. It was another chapter in the ongoing battle of the humanists against the positivists. For the humanists, narrative, like "understanding," as opposed to "explanation," was supposed to be capable of telling us about the past as it really was—human actions and intentions—whereas scientific reduction was the alien framework imposed from outside. Now the narrativists seemed to join the positivists in believing that the literary form of traditional history stands in the way of its epistemic pretensions. As we have seen, the antinarrative historians of the Annales school, and many other social and economic historians, agreed with them. The only difference was that the poststructuralists, unlike the positivists and the working historians, held no brief for the epistemic pretensions of the sciences and social sciences either. All was linguistic construction, all was imposed on reality—if indeed it makes any sense to speak of a "reality" outside our constructions.
Thus epistemology had not completely disappeared from the narrative treatment of history; there was still a concern for its epistemic status. But the consensus among the most influential poststructuralist or postmodern theorists (the latter term came to prevail) was that it had none. Many of the issues associated with the critical philosophy of history—objectivity, the role of evidence, the nature of explanation—were simply not treated at all. To that extent the project of the critical philosophy of history had been transformed, if not eclipsed.
One theorist who had a lot to say about historical knowledge was Michel Foucault, whose work gradually took on enormous importance from the late 1960s on, first in France and then elsewhere. Foucault's early work was in the history of medicine and psychiatry, but it engaged fundamental social and philosophical issues such as the normal vs. the abnormal and reason vs. insanity. His middle works (The Order of Things , The Archaeology of Knowledge ) dealt more broadly with knowledge in the human sciences. In keeping with the "linguistic turn," his focus was on forms of discourse, and his treatment took the form of contrasting widely divergent historical examples of scientific theory. His thoughts on history came through primarily in his defense of his own approach against more traditional treatments. He contrasted his own method, which he called "archaeological," with what he called the "history of ideas." He opposed the latter not only because he wanted to look beyond the surface level of ideas to the "discursive practices" that lay behind them; but also because the traditional historical approach tended to view the science of the past as a deficient form of knowledge striving toward the present. Rather than being a teleological continuum, according to Foucault, history manifests discrete breaks between radically different periods, which cannot properly be compared at all as if their sciences were all trying to do the same thing. Foucault was clearly criticizing traditional historians for imposing a teleological structure on the past; but he was doing so by arguing for an alternative conception of historical reality. Thus his work perhaps belongs as much to the substantive as to the critical philosophy of history. And while it differs in some ways from the more literary approach to history of other contemporary trends, it is like them in treating historical knowledge as conceptual construction. The question of its truth does not arise.
This did not sit well with many historians, who were still toiling away, reading documents, sifting and evaluating evidence, attempting to tell the truth, and to distinguish it from falsity, about the past. Historians on the whole had never had a great deal of patience with the philosophy of history; now many were further alienated, if not openly hostile. It is true that White, Barthes, and others had opened the hostilities by portraying professional history, in effect, as a powerful establishment managing the past for political purposes. Now many historians argued that, on the contrary, by questioning the idea of historical truth, the postmoderns were fostering an "anything goes" attitude that opened the doors to Stalinist-style rewriting of history, Holocaust denial, and other falsifications. Postmodern theory provided no way of distinguishing between history and fiction, in the view of its critics. Some historians, it is true, were intrigued by skeptical doubts about history's capacity to know the past. Robert Novick noted (That Noble Dream, 1988) that even the respected American historian Charles Beard, in the 1930s, had called historical objectivity a "noble dream" that could never be fulfilled; and Novick went on to argue, with the help of postmodern theories, for an even stronger skepticism about the past. As could be expected, his 1988 book stirred much controversy among professional historians.
But historians were not the only ones who were unhappy with the postmodern turn. Philosophers in the analytic tradition (McCullagh, Bunzl) were prompted by the controversy over Novick's book to mount arguments against the skeptical relativism it represented. While generally admitting the role of culture and language in shaping our approach to the past, these authors adduce some of the standard arguments about the self-refuting character of skepticism and defend the place of evidence and critical judgment in distinguishing better from worse historical accounts. Paul Ricoeur (1984–1988), a continental philosopher who also drew heavily on the analytical philosophy of history, attempted to soften the excesses of postmodernism by reconnecting narrative texts with their roots in human experience. Ricoeur believed that narrative, in both fictional and historical form, "humanizes" the experience of time, bringing order and measure to human existence. He argued that history and fiction draw on each other and often intersect in important ways. But he did not agree with the tendency of his French contemporaries to reduce history to fiction, or to blur the distinction between them. In writing about history, he devoted careful attention to the restraining and guiding role of document and evidence in historical discourse. He also believed that narrative texts build on structures that are already present in ordinary experience, transforming them, and then affecting and enriching ordinary experience in their turn.
Other philosophers of history countered the views of White and the postmoderns by arguing against the idea that narrative is an alien framework imposed on a nonnarrative reality. What reality is meant? Human reality, which history is about, is the temporal flow of experiences and actions that engage persons in their social context. While it may not always have the crafted contours of a novel's plot, neither is it a chaotic absence of order or a meaningless one thing after another. According to this argument, human experience, and especially human action, are ordered in a manner that foreshadows the structures of narrative itself. Events are experienced as temporal configurations with beginnings, middles, and ends; actions project an end and organize the means for achieving it. The agent grasps a sequence of events together in a temporal order much as a narrator organizes the events of a story; it is as if the agent is constructing and telling himself a story and then acting it out. On this view the narrative we find in historical writings—and in fictional writings too—is not a merely literary device at odds with the human world, it is something more like an extension of human existence by other means.
According to this "continuity theory" (as some have called it), narrative structures constitute "the metaphysics of everyday life," as Danto called it, and offer the key to understanding not only experience and action, but also the self who acts (1985, p. xiv). The self can be seen as constructing itself by implicitly or explicitly telling, and of course also revising, its life story. This theory can be extended from individual to social life, where it becomes relevant to history. Communities, large and small, may be said to constitute themselves in the stories they tell themselves about themselves. Here historical consciousness and historical writing have their place. Written history can be seen as the collective memory that permits a society to hold itself together and plan its future.
Critics of the continuity theory have argued that it does not succeed in answering the skepticism of the postmoderns, which was seemingly its intention. It counters the theory that historical narrative is in principle incapable of portraying the past by arguing against the radical discontinuity between narrative and the real world. But even if it succeeds in demonstrating the protonarrative character of everyday action and experience, and in extending this to the social level, it does not account for the differences between these protonarrative structures and fully formed narratives we find in novels and histories. As regards historical knowledge, this theory, according to its critics, fails to provide a positive account of how narrative can succeed in arriving at historical truth and distinguishing it from falsehood.
4. Historicity, Historicism and the Historicization of Philosophy
These criticisms inadvertently reveal something about the discussion of narrative and history, especially when it draws on continental philosophy for its inspiration, that once again raises questions about how to classify it as philosophy of history. We already found that the focus on historical narratives as literary texts, under the influence of White and the structuralists, moved away from traditional epistemological questions without completely abandoning them. Historical knowledge took a back seat to the literary properties of historical writing. Some of the attempts we have been discussing, designed to counter the influence of poststructuralism on the philosophy of history, similarly defy the standard classification. This is because they draw heavily on the phenomenological and hermeneutical tradition going back to Husserl and Heidegger. These philosophers reflect on history in a way that is indeed related to traditional epistemological and even metaphysical concerns, but not in the way associated with the standard distinction between the substantive and the critical. In this tradition, the key concept is "historicity."
"Geschichtlichkeit," sometimes translated as "historicality," is a term used by Husserl and Heidegger in the 1920s and 1930s in their phenomenological descriptions of consciousness and human existence. The importance of this notion attests to the influence on both philosophers of Dilthey, who had died in 1911 but whose posthumously published work was still studied intensely. We have encountered Dilthey as the philosopher of the Geisteswissenschaften, whose project of working out a "critique of historical reason" made him an important contributor to the epistemological debates about history. But he also believed that historical knowledge is rooted in certain features of human existence. "We are historical beings before we become observers of history," he wrote, "and only because we are the former do we become the latter." (Dilthey 2002, p. 297)
Husserl and Heidegger, following Dilthey's lead, expand in slightly different ways on what it means to be a "historical being." The phenomenological concept of "world" is central for both: The human world is not merely a container for human beings but a complex of meanings. Past and future are part of that world, and both philosophers devote extensive analysis to temporality. Human experience is not confined to the present but consists of a temporal grasp, holding on to the past and anticipating or projecting its future. The self is not simply a substance that persists through time, but a self-constituting unity of temporal interrelations. These are all essential, ontological features of human existence: it is not as if the human being existed first and then just happened to come up against the world, the past, the future. An existence without these would not be a human existence at all.
The same can be said of the social dimension of existence—Husserl speaks of intersubjectivity and Heidegger of being-with-others. Taking this dimension into account, we can see that past and future take on broader meanings. The social past—history—has meaning for us and figures in our lives prior to and independently of explicit historical representation and disciplined inquiry. Husserl asserts in his late works that all human activity, even that of a science such as mathematics, has to be understood historically. According to Heidegger, we appropriate our history in an act of self-interpretation, and it becomes part of the future we project for ourselves. Our history is part of our self-understanding and in that sense part of our being. Like the world and others, history is an essential feature of our existence, not something added on or something we could be without.
Though the term "narrative" is not used in these early treatments of the concept of historicity, the idea is implicit in it. Dilthey did compare self-understanding to the composition of an implicit autobiography. The German term Geschichte, like the French histoire, can mean both "history" and "story," and both senses of the term are often implied." Husserl writes that "the ego constitutes itself for itself, so to speak, in the unity of a Geschichte," suggesting that the temporal synthesis of past, present and future, in which the self takes shape, is like telling the story of one's life (Husserl 1999, p. 75). It is easy to see in these concepts the prefiguration of the narrative conception of human time that later theorists apply to history in the larger, social sense.
How does the discussion of historicity fit into the philosophy of history? Clearly it qualifies as philosophical reflection on history, but it does not correspond to the standard categories with which we began. It does have some bearing on the understanding of history as a discipline, in the sense that it seeks the roots of historical knowledge in human existence. It addresses the question of why we seek to know about the past at all. It suggests that the past is more than just an object of curiosity for us, because it corresponds to a dimension of our being. Knowing about the past is knowing where we have come from and thus who we are. History as a disciplined, critical inquiry, as it has developed in the academy, is thus just an extension and intensification of the project of self-knowledge. But while this addresses the nature of historical inquiry, it is not raising the traditional epistemological questions about whether genuine knowledge of the past is possible, how or whether objectivity can be achieved, etc. It is interested in historical inquiry as a human activity, and seeks to understand its significance within human existence as a whole.
If these questions are not epistemological, it may be argued that they are metaphysical. Understanding human nature, after all, has always been a central metaphysical endeavor. This does not mean, however, that these questions are part of the substantive philosophy of history. The latter has traditionally set out to understand the whole process of human history, and this is different from the focus on what is essential to individual human existence. We find few pronouncements in the phenomenological, hermeneutical or narrativist literature about the meaning and purpose of history as a whole.
The concept of historicity became an issue in the French structuralist attack on the phenomenological tradition in the 1960s. The anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss argued that many of the non-Western societies he studied were "peoples without history" in the sense that they devalue temporal change. The primary purpose of social organization in these societies is to prevent change or contain it as much as possible within an interpretive framework in which its significance can be denied. Their sense of themselves as individuals and as societies is not derived from a consciousness of the difference between past, present and future. Unlike Western societies, they have no interest in their past origins, nor do they ponder their future destiny; in this sense they are not characterized by historicity at all. Levi-Strauss famously attacked Jean-Paul Sartre for making historicity essential to humanity and by implication excluding "peoples without history" from the human race. Either they are somehow less than human, or they are relegated as "primitive peoples" to some remote prehistory, even though they still exist in the present. Levi-Strauss's attack foreshadows the postmodern view that the emphasis on history is a "Eurocentric," and thus provincial and limited, conception.
A related trend in twentieth-century philosophy might be seen as an extension of the notion of historicity, though it does not necessarily follow from it. If human existence is through-and-through historical, then all human endeavor is dependent on and limited to its historical position, including the search for truth. Truths thought to be timeless turn out to be nothing more than reflections of their historical age. Historical relativism of this sort is sometimes called "historicism" (though that term has also been used in a different sense—notably by Karl Popper, who used it to mean "historical determinism"). We have already encountered skeptical relativism about historical knowledge itself, and we have noted that some philosophers are skeptics about scientific knowledge as well. But to attribute the relativity of all knowledge to history in particular is a special form of skepticism. Like all skepticism, this form has self-referential problems, because the alleged relativity would extend to the relativist thesis itself.
But some philosophers have not flinched at this prospect, propounding the radical historicization even of philosophy. Thus the later Heidegger, and more recently Richard Rorty, view philosophy itself as a large-scale episode in Western history that is nearing or has reached its end. Perhaps this is the ultimate inversion of Hegel's grand design for the philosophy of history: He thought history had come to an end by being fully comprehended in thought. Philosophy ultimately triumphs over history. For Heidegger and Rorty, it is philosophy that has come to an end, and the triumph belongs to history.
See also Adorno, Theodor Wiesengrund; Anaxagoras of Clazomenae; Aristotle; Augustine, St.; Barthes, Roland; Bossuet, Jacques Bénigne; Collingwood, Robin George; Comte, Auguste; Continental Philosophy; Croce, Benedetto; Danto, Arthur; Determinism in History; Dilthey, Wilhelm; Engels, Friedrich; Enlightenment; Foucault, Michel; Geisteswissenschaften; Habermas, Jürgen; Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich; Heidegger, Martin; Hempel, Carl Gustav; Herder, Johann Gottfried; Historicism; Horkheimer, Max; Husserl, Edmund; Hyppolite, Jean; Kant, Immanuel; Kuhn, Thomas; Lukács, Georg; Lyotard, Jean François; Marx, Karl; Marxist Philosophy; Mill, John Stuart; Plato; Popper, Karl Raimund; Positivism; Progress, The Idea of; Rickert, Heinrich; Ricoeur, Paul; Romanticism; Rorty, Richard; Sartre, Jean-Paul; Spengler, Oswald; Structuralism and Post-structuralism; Thucydides; Toynbee, Arnold Joseph; Vico, Giambattista; Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet de; Windelband, Wilhelm.
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David Carr (2005)