History: Written and Lived

History: Written and Lived

History: Written and Lived

History: Written and Lived

Excerpt

Men have drawn many conclusions from history. Few of these conclusions have won a large measure of agreement from historians or from other men. History is evidently a difficult subject to master or profit from. And philosophy appears to be at least as recalcitrant a subject as history; indeed, philosophers seem to have profited less from a study of philosophy than historians have from history.

Since "philosophy of history" sounds as if it were an amalgam of history and philosophy, it would seem to be a more difficult subject than either pure philosophy or history. Actually, a philosophy of history is no more difficult than either; it is in fact more capable than either of yielding knowledge and conviction, for though less searching it is more empirical than pure philosophy, and though not as detailed or concrete it is more systematic than history.

A philosophy of history does not offer a fullblown philosophy. It does not concern itself with the "last" questions -- the nature of those ultimate conditions and realities in terms of which all knowledge and being are to be understood. Since its range is not as wide and the beings of which it speaks are not as recondite as those dealt with in a pure philosophy, its claims can be tested more readily than philosophy's. Its results too can be more intelligible than history's, since they are expressible in terms of abstract reasons, principles and categories, and not in . . .

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