Is there a fixed historical reality, independent from later representations of the facts? It can be accepted on the respectable ground that it is empirically illuminating: that it does represent something that historians, lawyers, politicians and ordinary men do in the course of their normal thinking. What if we take seriously the idea that history is the result of the actions and thoughts of vast numbers of actors, so history is a flow of action and knowledge rather than a sequence of causes and effects? Historical narratives often take the form of an account of a series of events, each of which was a causal condition or trigger for later events. See O'Brien 1975 , Taylor 1975 , and Kojève 1969 for treatments of Hegel's philosophy of history. Philosophy of history examines the theoretical foundations of the practice, application, and social consequences of history and historiography. If, for example, I began to think about a subject which I had not considered for years, I might though I should not always succeed in reviving my previous thoughts about it, though my thinking now would have a different background of emotion and feeling from what it had then; and if I thought about the history of Julius Caesar I might succeed in reviving his thoughts too. It is that an account of historical truth in terms of coherence only leaves the whole structure of historical beliefs in the air, without any necessary connection with reality. .
Hegel's philosophy of history is perhaps the most fully developed philosophical theory of history that attempts to discover meaning or direction in history 1824a, 1824b, 1857. Along these lines Charles Beard 1874-1948 had a series of arguments against the Rankean ideal of objectivity. To assume that it is without discussion would scarcely be justifiable. The following two sections will briefly consider these issues. The process of understanding the minds of other people, and for that matter part of the process of understanding our own minds, is one of interpreting these expressions. How can this difference of attitude be accounted for? A study of history, London: Oxford University Press.
Walsh, An Introduction to Philosophy of History New York, 1976. It is transformed by being interpreted by being brought into relation with previous experiences of the same kind and classified under general concepts. The one thing they cannot say is that any judgment is so secure that it cannot be shaken even in principle. The term is capable of both a wider and a narrower meaning, and the ambiguity is reflected in an important division among supporters of the idealist theory. This is not absolutely necessary nor is it a exclusive of speculative thought as analytic philosophy can be tecnical and verbose as well but speculative philosophers often feel the need to introduce new terminology or complex jargon. Social mechanisms: an analytical approach to social theory, Studies in rationality and social change, Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.
An attempt to do so would be like trying to read a cypher text of which it was laid down in advance that the solution must elude us. Whereas analytic philosophy of history had emphasized scientific analogies for historical knowledge and advanced the goals of verifiability and generalizability in historical knowledge, English-speaking philosophers in the 1970s and 1980s were increasingly influenced by hermeneutic philosophy, post-modernism, and French literary theory Rorty 1979. Plan of the Book The treatment of philosophy of history in the present volume will fall into two parts corresponding to those just distinguished. Rauch Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1988. This is a theme that has been taken up by contemporary historians, for example, by Michael Kammen in his treatment of public remembrance of the American Civil War 1991. But this, as will be obvious, reopens the whole question of fact and truth in history. It sees nothing peculiar in the fact that the historian is concerned with particular events: so are we all in our daily 1 See The Open Society, Vol.
Walsh fundamentally accepts Collingwood's most basic premise: that history concerns conscious human action. But, as we noted before, this suggestion did not commend itself to working historians, and more recent sympathizers with the positivist programme have adopted a different attitude to history. In the 20th century, however, and by figures as diverse as E. It looks from this as if we must try to find a basis for historical knowledge not in our possession of a number of hard-and-fast past facts, but, more vaguely, in the given element in historical evidence. Probably the best way of approaching the question is to ask what it is the historian is seeking to investigate and what he hopes to discover. This involved his supposition that all expressed historical agency is a manifestation of one of three classes of mental states: judgments, actions, and expressions of experience. William Hinton provides what is almost a month-to-month description of the Chinese Revolution in Fanshen village—a collection of a few hundred families Hinton, 1966.
Yet unless we do interpret them we cannot use them in the structure of knowledge. In the latter half of the 20th century, a number of explanatory theories were proposed which walk a middle line between the nomothetic and idealist proposals. It holds that the essential task of the historian is to discover individual facts about the past, just as it is the essential task of perception to discover individual facts about the present. To say that all that is required to account for literary understanding is common sense and common experience is clearly to fall short of the truth: genius is wanted too. Collingwood argued, that there was a sense in which a past act of thinking, whether my own or some- one else's, could be revived by me now, though not with pre- cisely the same background as it originally had.
His approach is neither purely philosophical nor purely empirical; instead, he undertakes to discover within the best historical knowledge of his time, an underlying rational principle that can be philosophically articulated Avineri 1972. But Rickert stressed, more than they, the psychological dimension of historiography. Second, I consider some of the historiographical debates that have been generated by the recent historical turn in analytic philosophy, looking at the work of Scott Soames and Hans-Johann Glock, in particular. Collingwood felt the force of both these points, though he was in general sympathy with Dilthey's point of view and alive to the great importance for history of the theory of expression. Indian and Chinese historians have their own intellectual traditions in conducting historical research and explanation; a global history is one that pays attention to the insights and arguments of these traditions. It is true that Bradley began his career by writing in 1874 a most interesting essay on The Presuppositions of Critical History, but there is nothing to show that he attached any special importance to history in the working out of his general metaphysical view.
The method of verstehen understanding makes a methodology of this approach; it invites the thinker to engage in an active construction of the meanings and intentions of the actors from their point of view Outhwaite 1975. The information in such works is arrived at by methodical enquiries and arranged in an orderly manner, but it would not normally be said to be scientific information. So specifying the reason for the action is simultaneously identifying a part of the cause of the consequences of the action. These judgments concern human nature: they are judgments about the characteristic responses human beings make to the various challenges set them in the course of their lives, whether by the natural conditions in which they live or by their fellow human beings. Of the many objections brought against it, it may be said at once that some spring from what might well be thought the extravagances of its supporters. For the purpose of assessing the status of the propositions of history it is enough to notice that the standard ways of think- ing in the natural sciences of which we have spoken are generally recognized at any particular time, with the result that argu- ments and conclusions in those sciences can claim general acceptance in the scientific world. Philosophers have raised questions about the meaning and structure of the totality of human history.
In its most general sense, the term refers to the study of historians' methods and practices. Facts cannot, as was imagined in the Correspondence account, be simply apprehended: they have to be established. Criticisms of the Intermediate Position Our attempted synthesis will doubtless come under attack from both sides: we may expect to be told on the one hand that it depends on nothing more than unproved assertion, on the other that it offers too flimsy a barrier to the inroads of historical scepticism. What if the causes of some very large and significant historical events are themselves small, granular, gradual, and cumulative? But to give that answer is not to solve the problem of the status of historical thinking. He needs imagination in a large degree, but he needs experience too. Peter Novick 1934- and Richard Evans 1947- have recently taken up the limits of constructivism on behalf of professional historians.
The understanding of human nature shown by historians, they would say, is not different from that which we all display in our daily lives, and comes from the same source. Coherence, in short, is not enough as an account of historical truth: we need to be assured of contact with reality as well. Moreover, it should result in the formulation not of a self-evident truth, but of an empirical hypothesis, to be tested by its efficacy in throwing light on individual historical situations. Because time is linear, its key events are unique and inviolable: the Fall of Adam, the Birth and Death of Jesus, and the Resurrection all move history along to the Final Judgment with infallible regularity. I further suggest, through a brief discussion of the classical figures of Kant, Hegel, and Marx, that the basic features of speculative philosophy of history concern the articulation of both the telos and dynamics of history.