Philosophy of History and the Problem of Values

Philosophy of History and the Problem of Values

Philosophy of History and the Problem of Values

Philosophy of History and the Problem of Values

Excerpt

This book tries to bring philosophy of history down to earth by showing that, in our epoch of gigantic ideological struggles and historical changes engaging the future of mankind, philosophy of history is everybody's concern. Our individual destinies depend to a large extent on the fate of the collectivity within which we live. Thus, philosophy of history becomes an essential part of our philosophy of life.

The author is convinced that philosophy of history is intimately linked with the field of values. Even a superficial approach to the problems of present history reveals that a choice between the different ideologies struggling in our day for supremacy is a choice between different sets of values. The examination of the relationships between philosophy and history and philosophy of values has not yet been undertaken on a broad front. It will be attempted in this book.

A few words should be said about the method our inquiry will follow. It is the author's conviction that any philosophical research lacking historical foundation is dilettantish. A scientist may well proceed without taking into account the history of his science, for past scientific theories are almost all obsolete because of their inability to cope with newly discovered empirical data. Philosophy, however, has to deal with the human condition in the world, the condition of a living, conscious, suffering individual who knows that he has to die. This basic human condition has not changed in history. Different philosophies only constitute different possibilities of conceptualizing and explaining this human condition, and, although the styles of these conceptualizations have changed in the course of history, past philosophical theories are not necessarily obsolete, for they still may be applicable to the unchanged basic human condition.

Thus, before a philosopher proposes a new doctrine of his own, he must discuss the most significant doctrines advanced before him; he must take into account their valid elements, reveal their shortcomings and refute their errors. Only then is he entitled to propose better solu-

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