Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: An Anthology - Vol. 4

Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: An Anthology - Vol. 4

Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: An Anthology - Vol. 4

Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: An Anthology - Vol. 4

Excerpt

The philosophy of history is a distinctly modem development within philosophy. Though the classical philosophers made observations from time to time on history, and though great and far-reaching schemes of human history were conceived before the modern epoch, the philosophical search to understand history as a distinct field within philosophy does not properly begin until Hegel in the nineteenth century. Though he had forebears in the eighteenth century--notably Vico, Herder, and Condillac--the achievements of these men took on the character of specific descriptions of what in their view the course of history had been rather than a philosophical analysis of what historical phenomena and historical knowledge essentially are. Indeed, the historical point of view may be Hegel's greatest contribution to philosophy.

Now, there is a very good reason why the philosophy of history should be such a late arrival on the philosophic scene. This reason, it so happens, is also historical in character: the fact is that the modem sense of history, without which no such distinct discipline as a philosophy of history would ever have been created, is itself an historical fact that emerges only in modern times--to be precise, with the outburst of the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century. Everything human is within history, including man's sense of history itself. The history of the sense of history would alone be a volume, but here we shall merely indicate the main guide lines that can place in proper perspective the historical philosophy of the twentieth century.

The Greeks--and Plato and Aristotle would be prime philosophical . . .

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