University of Tasmania
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A survey of the literature of the philosophy of history

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posted on 2023-05-26, 22:12 authored by Butler, A. Ross
It is widely accepted that philosophy of history may be divided into two main parts: analytical philosophy of history and, what is variously termed - substantive, or speculative philosophy of history. The former is taken by many writers to be what Gardiner calls \a second-order form of inquiry\" having as an aim not \"to elucidate and assess the human past itself but ... to elucidate and assess the ways in which historians typically describe or comprehend that past.\" It has to do with such matters as \"the presuppositions underlying historical narratives the categories implicit in historical judgement and explanation and the modes of argument whereby historical conclusions are supported or established.\" It is in part two of this dissertation that consideration is given to some of the issues and questions which typically appear under the rubric \"analytical philosophy of history.\" Speculative or substantive philosophy of history generally takes as its subject matter history as a whole. For writers whose works have been assigned by critics to this category of inquiry a major concern has frequently been that of seeking order in the apparently chaotic stream of historical events. Attempts have been made to discern \"meaning\" or \"significance\" in the course of events; to see in events the embodiment of a principle or a necessary component in an overall scheme of things the final realization of which may be worldly or otherworldly. The course of events is variously seen as serving the end of the perfectibility of man and his social relations or the eschatological vision of religion. Attempts have been made by some writers impressed by the advances made by science through the formulation of laws and generalizations to discover universal laws of human nature or of history by which the events of history could be explained (and as implied by some predicted) with the same certainty andprecision found in science. The status of empirical inquiry has frequently been claimed for \"speculative philosophies of history.\" But this has been denied by practising historians and philosophers distrustful of the over-predominant aprioristic overtones found in these writings. As Dray has pointed out \"the construction of speculative systems of history is somewhat out of fashion\" but has \"still not quite achieved the fossil status often attributed to cosmology.\"6 He cites as the reason for this the predominantly Judaic-Christian nature of our culture and the expectation that history should be \"meaningful.\" Part one consists of an historical outline of philosophical reflection on history and incorporates consideration of the ideas of \"speculative philosophers of history.\""


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Copyright 1977 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.Ed.)--Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, 1977. Includes bibliographical references

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