History as the Story of Liberty

History as the Story of Liberty

History as the Story of Liberty

History as the Story of Liberty

Excerpt

I propose in this volume to take up again the subject of the Theory and History of the Writing of History which I wrote in 1912-13, and which was continued in my History of Italian Historiography in the Nineteenth Century and in several other shorter works. I do not wish to offer this book in replacement of the previous book, but only to add new considerations born of my further studies and stimulated by new experience of life. In conformity with its origin, this book consists of a series of essays which share an implicit unity in the thought which runs through them all, and to which I have given also an explicit unity by means of the first essay, which serves as an introduction. Any slight repetition or infraction of the order of exposition noticeable now and then is a consequence of the literary form of the essay.

Particular emphasis is laid, in this volume, on the relation between the writing of history and practical action; not by way of defence against the attacks which in the name of abstract moral absolutism are nowadays often delivered against "historicism" by people who happen to be anxious to put morality outside the pale of history, and think to exalt it, so that it can agreeably be reverenced from afar and neglected from near at hand: no, not with that motive, but because historical thought is born in an extremely complicated and delicate dialectical process out of the passion of practical life, transcending the latter and getting free of it in a pure judgment of truth. By virtue of that judgment, passion is converted into decisive action.

The problem is difficult. Indeed all the problems of historical thought are difficult when, as in this book it is viewed as the sole . . .

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