The Meaning of Human History

The Meaning of Human History

The Meaning of Human History

The Meaning of Human History

Excerpt

The philosophy of history is certainly the most neglected province of philosophy. This is amazing if we reflect not only on its inherent importance but also on the urgency of its fundamental problems. Here surely is the focal point of all applications of philosophy to life, of all the moot questions as to the interaction of the human mind, external nature, and the government of the world, divine or otherwise. The newer, as well as the traditional, problems as to the nature of time, of physical, mental and social causation, the nature of the individual and his dependence on larger or more inclusive unities, the relation of human existence to human values--one has but to name such problems to see how hopeless it is to try to deal with them satisfactorily without relating them to the concrete field of human history. Even if we approach philosophy from the purely logical, or methodologic, point of view, the question of the relation or dependence of the social on the natural sciences, of the relation of the existential to the normative and of law to chance in individual events, are all inescapable problems. Surely there can be no better challenge or opportunity for empiricists and rationalists, materialists and spiritualists, monists and pluralists, intellectualists and voluntarists, determinists and tychists, than to apply their ideas to the field of human history.

And surely that field offers problems as weighty as any that philosophers have wrestled with when it presents such questions as: "What is the nature of historical knowledge?" or "What . . .

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