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Philosophy of History
First published Sun Feb 18, 2007 The conce%t of history %lays a f"nda!ental role in h"!an tho"-ht. t invo1es notions of h"!an a-ency) chan-e) the role of !aterial circ"!stances in h"!an affairs) and the %"tative !eanin- of historical events. t raises the %ossibility of 2learnin- fro! history.3 And it s"--ests the %ossibility of better "nderstandin- o"rselves in the %resent) by "nderstandin- the forces) choices) and circ"!stances that bro"-ht "s to o"r c"rrent sit"ation. t is therefore "ns"r%risin- that %hiloso%hers have so!eti!es t"rned their attention to efforts to e4a!ine history itself and the nat"re of historical 1nowled-e. These reflections can be -ro"%ed to-ether into a body of wor1 called 2%hiloso%hy of history.3 This wor1 is hetero-eneo"s) co!%risin- analyses and ar-"!ents of idealists) %ositivists) lo-icians) theolo-ians) and others) and !ovin- bac1 and forth over the divides between E"ro%ean and An-lo,A!erican %hiloso%hy) and between her!ene"tics and %ositivis!. 5iven the %l"rality of voices within the 2%hiloso%hy of history)3 it is i!%ossible to -ive one definition of the field that s"its all these a%%roaches. n fact) it is !isleadin- to i!a-ine that we refer to a sin-le %hiloso%hical tradition when we invo1e the %hrase) 2%hiloso%hy of history)3 beca"se the strands of research characteri6ed here rarely en-a-e

in dialo-"e with each other. Still) we can "sef"lly thin1 of %hiloso%hers' writin-s abo"t history as cl"sterin- aro"nd several lar-e 7"estions) involvin- !eta%hysics) her!ene"tics) e%iste!olo-y) and historicis!8 9:; What does history consist of< individ"al actions) social str"ct"res) %eriods and re-ions) civili6ations) lar-e ca"sal %rocesses) divine intervention= 9>; ?oes history as a whole have !eanin-) str"ct"re) or direction) beyond the individ"al events and actions that !a1e it "%= 9@; What is involved in o"r 1nowin-) re%resentin-) and e4%lainin- history= 9A; To what e4tent is h"!an history constit"tive of the h"!an %resent=

:. $istory and its re%resentation >. Continental %hiloso%hy of history o >.:. *niversal or historical h"!an nat"re= o >.>. ?oes history %ossess directionality= o >.@. $e-el's %hiloso%hy of history o >.A. $er!ene"tic a%%roaches to history @. An-lo,A!erican %hiloso%hy of history o @.:. 5eneral laws in history= o @.>. $istorical objectivity o @.@. Ca"sation in history o @.A. Recent to%ics in the %hiloso%hy of history A. To%ics fro! the historians B. Rethin1in- the %hiloso%hy of history #iblio-ra%hy +ther nternet Reso"rces Related Entries

1. History and its representation

What is history= 'ost %rosaically) it is the h"!an %ast and o"r or-ani6ed re%resentations of that %ast. We can of co"rse write abo"t the chronolo-y of non,h"!an events<the history of the solar syste!) the history of the earth's environ!ent over a billion,year e4%anse of ti!e. #"t the 1ey iss"es in the %hiloso%hy of history arise in o"r re%resentations of the h"!an %ast<a %oint e!%hasi6ed in Collin-wood's %hiloso%hy of history 9:CAD8 >:BE:D;. And history is fascinatin- for "s) beca"se) in 'ar4's words) 2'en !a1e their own history) b"t not in circ"!stances of their own choosin-3 9:FB>;. That is to say8 history reflects a-ency<the choices by individ"als and -ro"%sG and it reflects constrainin- str"ct"res and circ"!stances. So historical o"tco!es are neither ca"sally deter!ined nor entirely %lastic and accidental. Therefore it is o%en to the historian to atte!%t to discover the historical circ"!stances that ind"ced and constrained historical a-ents to act in one way rather than another<th"s brin-in- abo"t a historical o"tco!e of interest. So we !i-ht be-in by sayin- that history is a te!%orally ordered se7"ence of events and %rocesses involvin- h"!an doin-s) within which there are interconnections of ca"sality) str"ct"re) and action) within which there is the %lay of accident) contin-ency) and o"tside forces.

#"t we !i-ht also say8 there is no s"ch thin- as 2history in -eneral.3 The descri%tion j"st %rovided s"--ests that there is a co!%rehensible collection of historical %rocesses that !i-ht be characteri6ed as a 2total3 h"!an history8 %o%"lation -rowth) "rbani6ation) technolo-ical innovation) econo!ic differentiation) the -rowth of 1nowled-e and c"lt"re) etc. #"t this i!%ression is hi-hly !isleadin-. t s"--ests a de-ree of order and str"ct"re that history does not %ossess. There are only s%ecific histories8 histories of vario"s conditions or circ"!stances of interest to "s. $istorical s%ace is dense8 at any -iven ti!e there are co"ntless h"!an actions and social %rocesses "nderway in the world. So to sin-le o"t the history of so!ethin- s%ecific<a-ric"lt"re) the French Revol"tion) !odern science) sla!<is "navoidably to select) fro! the f"ll co!%le4ity of events and actions) a li!ited set of related historical feat"res that will be traced thro"-h a %rocess of develo%!ent. And this in t"rn raises the %oint that 2history3 de%ends %artly on 2what occ"rred3 and %artly on 2what we are interested in.3 This %oint does not "nderc"t the objectivity of j"d-!ents abo"t the %ast. Events and actions ha%%ened in the %ast) se%arate fro! o"r interest in the!. #"t or-ani6in- the! into a narrative abo"t 2reli-io"s awa1enin-3 or 2for!ation of the absol"tist state3 i!%oses an inter%retive str"ct"re on the! that de%ends inherently on the observer's interests. There is no s"ch thin- as 2%ers%ective,free history.3 So there is a very clear sense in which we can assert that history is constit"ted by historical inter%retation and traditions of historical interest< even tho"-h the "nderlyin- ha%%enin-s the!selves are not. What) then) is historical re%resentation= We want to 1now) re%resent) "nderstand) and e4%lain the %ast. This %ers%ective e!%hasi6es o"r co-nitive or e%iste!ic relationshi% to the %ast. We "se facts in the %resent<r"ins) inscri%tions) doc"!ents) oral histories) %arish records) and the writin-s of %revio"s -enerations of historians<to s"%%ort inferences abo"t circ"!stances and %eo%le in the %ast. $ere we can sin-le o"t several ideas8 the idea of learnin- so!e of the facts abo"t h"!an circ"!stances in the %astG the idea of %rovidin- a narrative that %rovides h"!an "nderstandin- of how a se7"ence of historical actions and events han-s to-ether and 2!a1es sense3 to "sG and the idea of %rovidin- a ca"sal acco"nt of the occ"rrence of so!e historical event of interest. Notice that these descri%tions invo1e so!e of the i!%ortant %hiloso%hical iss"es that arise in the %hiloso%hy of history8 the inter%retation of !eanin-f"l h"!an actionsG ca"sal e4%lanationG the stat"s of e!%irical 1nowled-e abo"t the %astG and the stat"s of assertions abo"t the 2!eanin-3 of lar-e historical events. Each of these for!"lations raises new and diffic"lt iss"es for %hiloso%hical clarification. #"t o"r relationshi% to the %ast is not only co-nitive) b"t also e4%ressive or %erfor!ative. We create) inter%ret) fictionali6e) !ytholo-i6e) and valori6e the %ast. And we "se so!e of o"r stories abo"t the %ast<o"r 2histories3<to re%resent the ri-ht way of actin-) -ood and bad %olitical behavior) the character of one nationality as o%%osed to another) and to j"stify o"r cond"ct in the f"t"re. This feat"re of historical re%resentation too raises %hiloso%hical %roble!s. ?o these stories have e%iste!ic standin-= Are so!e of these val"e,laden inter%retations !ore j"stified than others= And can we shar%ly distin-"ish between the two 1inds of re%resentation of the %ast=

A third i!%ortant thread within %hiloso%hical reflections on history concerns the relation between history and the constit"tion of h"!anity. n what sense are h"!an bein-s 2historical3 creations= $ow do h"!an bein-s relate to o"r historical ori-ins= $ow do h"!an c"lt"re and h"!an nat"re reflect and e!body history= $istoricis! is the view that h"!an creations<!eanin-s) val"es) lan-"a-e) instit"tions) and c"lt"re<are historical %rod"cts) the res"lts of %revio"s historical circ"!stances) and that historical chan-e is in t"rn the res"lt of historically constr"cted %ersons. So h"!an bein-s are both historically constr"cted and historically creative. *niversalis!) by contrast) !aintains that %eo%le are essentially the sa!e) whether in ancient E-y%t or conte!%orary #roo1lynG so the tas1 of historical e4%lanation is to discover how %eo%le !"ch li1e "s !i-ht have been led to act as they did. t will be noted that the conce%t of 2!eanin-3 co!es into disc"ssions of history in at least three different ways8 the !eanin- of individ"al actions within historical eventsG the !eanin- of a set of historical events within the broad swee% of historyG and the !eanin-s created in later actors as they the!ati6e and re%resent the narratives of their %ast. t is i!%ortant to distin-"ish these different as%ects of !eanin-) since the %rocesses of investi-atin- and "nderstandin- these !eanin-s are 7"ite different. #"t the inter%enetration of the conce%ts of !eanin- and history in t"rn -ives validity to the e!%hasis of the tradition of continental %hiloso%hy on the distinction between the h"!an sciences and the nat"ral sciences and the i!%ortance of "sin- !ethods of investi-ation that shed li-ht on the !eanin- of actions and ense!bles. Finally) it is worth noticin- that historical 7"estions can be %osed at a wide ran-e of levels of sco%e and scale. For e4a!%le) if we are interested in the French Revol"tion) we can as1 7"estions of risin- -enerality8 What was the standard of livin- in the French co"ntryside in the third 7"arter of the ei-hteenth cent"ry= Why did aristocrats) artisans) and %easants act as they did in the crisis of :HFC= What %olitical and econo!ic circ"!stances ca"sed the French Revol"tion= What is the !eanin- of the French Revol"tion within the arc of E"ro%ean civili6ation= And we can %ose historical in7"iries at vario"s levels of -eo-ra%hy and %o%"lation. Th"s we can foc"s on the econo!ic history of the En-lish !idlands) #ritain) Western E"ro%e) or E"rasia<with "nits of ascendin- -eo-ra%hical sco%e and co!%le4ity enco!%assed by the vario"s fra!es of analysis. So the choice of the "nits and fra!e of historical analysis is itself historio-ra%hically si-nificant and deserves %hiloso%hical attention.

2. Continental philosophy of history

The to%ic of history has been treated fre7"ently in !odern E"ro%ean %hiloso%hy. A lon-) lar-ely 5er!an) tradition of tho"-ht loo1s at history as a total and co!%rehensible %rocess of events) str"ct"res) and %rocesses) for which the %hiloso%hy of history can serve as an inter%retive tool. This a%%roach) s%ec"lative and !eta,historical) ai!s to discern lar-e) e!bracin- %atterns and directions in the "nfoldin- of h"!an history) %ersistent notwithstandin- the erratic bac1,and,forth of %artic"lar historical develo%!ents. 'odern %hiloso%hers raisin- this set of 7"estions abo"t the lar-e direction and !eanin- of history incl"de Iico) $erder) and $e-el. A so!ewhat different line of tho"-ht in the continental

tradition that has been very relevant to the %hiloso%hy of history is the her!ene"tic tradition of the h"!an sciences. Thro"-h their e!%hasis on the 2her!ene"tic circle3 thro"-h which h"!ans "nderta1e to "nderstand the !eanin-s created by other h"!ans< in te4ts) sy!bols) and actions<her!ene"tic %hiloso%hers s"ch as Schleier!acher 9:F@F;) ?ilthey 9:FDJE:CJ@;) and Ricoe"r 9>JJJ; offer %hiloso%hical ar-"!ents for e!%hasi6inthe i!%ortance of narrative inter%retation within o"r "nderstandin- of history.

2.1. Universal or historical human nature?

$"!an bein-s !a1e historyG b"t what is the f"nda!ental nat"re of the h"!an bein-= s there one f"nda!ental 2h"!an nat"re)3 or are the !ost basic feat"res of h"!anity historically conditioned 9'andelba"! :CH:;= Can the st"dy of history shed li-ht on this 7"estion= When we st"dy different historical e%ochs) do we learn so!ethin- abo"t "nchan-in- h"!an bein-s<or do we learn abo"t f"nda!ental differences of !otivation) reasonin-) desire) and collectivity= s h"!anity a historical %rod"ct= 5ia!battista Iico's New Science 9:H>B; offered an inter%retation of history that t"rned on the idea of a "niversal h"!an nat"re and a "niversal history 9:H>B;G 9see 9#erlin >JJJ; for co!!entary;. Iico's inter%retation of the history of civili6ation offers the view that there is an "nderlyin- "nifor!ity in h"!an nat"re across historical settin-s that %er!its e4%lanation of historical actions and %rocesses. The co!!on feat"res of h"!an nat"re -ive rise to a fi4ed series of sta-es of develo%!ent of civil society) law) co!!erce) and -overn!ent8 "niversal h"!an bein-s) faced with rec"rrin- civili6ational challen-es) %rod"ce the sa!e set of res%onses over ti!e. Two thin-s are worth notin- abo"t this %ers%ective on history8 first) that it si!%lifies the tas1 of inter%retin- and e4%laininhistory 9beca"se we can ta1e it as -iven that we can "nderstand the actors of the %ast based on o"r own e4%eriences and nat"re;G and second) it has an intellect"al heir in twentieth,cent"ry social science theory in the for! of rational choice theory as a basis for co!%rehensive social e4%lanation. Kohann 5ottfried $erder offers a stri1in-ly different view abo"t h"!an nat"re and h"!an ideas and !otivations. $erder ar-"es for the historical conte4t"ality of h"!an nat"re in his wor1) Ideas for the Philosophy of History of Hu anity 9:HC:;. $e offers a historici6ed "nderstandin- of h"!an nat"re) advocatin- the idea that h"!an nat"re is itself a historical %rod"ct and that h"!an bein-s act differently in different %eriods of historical develo%!ent 9:FJJE:FHH) :HC:;. $erder's views set the sta-e for the historicist %hiloso%hy of h"!an nat"re later fo"nd in s"ch nineteenth cent"ry fi-"res as $e-el and Niet6sche. $is %ers%ective too %refi-"res an i!%ortant c"rrent of tho"-ht abo"t the social world in the late twentieth cent"ry) the idea of the 2social constr"ction3 of h"!an nat"re and social identities 9Anderson :CF@G $ac1in- :CCCG Fo"ca"lt :CH:;.

2.2. Does history possess directionality?

Philoso%hers have raised 7"estions abo"t the !eanin- and str"ct"re of the totality of h"!an history. So!e %hiloso%hers have so"-ht to discover a lar-e or-ani6in- the!e) !eanin-) or direction in h"!an history. This !ay ta1e the for! of an effort to de!onstrate how history enacts a divine order) or reveals a lar-e %attern 9cyclical)

teleolo-ical) %ro-ressive;) or %lays o"t an i!%ortant the!e 9for e4a!%le) $e-el's conce%tion of history as the "nfoldin- of h"!an freedo! disc"ssed below;. The a!bition in each case is to de!onstrate that the a%%arent contin-ency and arbitrariness of historical events can be related to a !ore f"nda!ental "nderlyin- %"r%ose or order. This a%%roach to history !ay be described as her!ene"ticG b"t it is foc"sed on inter%retation of lar-e historical feat"res rather than the inter%retation of individ"al !eanin-s and actions. n effect) it treats the swee% of history as a co!%licated) tan-led te4t) in which the inter%reter assi-ns !eanin-s to so!e ele!ents of the story in order to fit these ele!ents into the lar-er the!es and !otifs of the story. 9Ran1e !a1es this %oint e4%licitly 9:FF:;.; A rec"rrin- c"rrent in this a%%roach to the %hiloso%hy of history falls in the area of theodicy or eschatolo-y8 reli-io"sly ins%ired atte!%ts to find !eanin- and str"ct"re in history by relatin- the %ast and %resent to so!e s%ecific) divinely ordained %lan. Theolo-ians and reli-io"s thin1ers have atte!%ted to find !eanin- in historical events as e4%ressions of divine will. +ne reason for theolo-ical interest in this 7"estion is the %roble! of evilG th"s (eibni6's !heodicy atte!%ts to %rovide a lo-ical inter%retation of history that !a1es the tra-edies of history co!%atible with a benevolent 5od's will 9:HJC;. n the twentieth cent"ry) theolo-ians s"ch as 'aritain 9:CBH;) R"st 9:CAH;) and ?awson 9:C>C; offered syste!atic efforts to %rovide Christian inter%retations of history. Enli-hten!ent thin1ers rejected the reli-io"s inter%retation of history b"t bro"-ht in their own teleolo-y) the idea of %ro-ress<the idea that h"!anity is !ovin- in the direction of better and !ore %erfect civili6ation) and that this %ro-ression can be witnessed thro"-h st"dy of the history of civili6ation 9Condorcet :HCBG 'ontes7"ie" :HAF;. Iico's %hiloso%hy of history see1s to identify a fo"ndational series of sta-es of h"!an civili6ation. ?ifferent civili6ations -o thro"-h the sa!e sta-es) beca"se h"!an nat"re is constant across history 9Po!%a :CCJ;. Ro"ssea" 9:HD>aG :HD>b; and 0ant 9:HFAEBG :HFAED; bro"-ht so!e of these ass"!%tions abo"t rationality and %ro-ress into their %olitical %hiloso%hies) and Ada! S!ith e!bodies so!e of this o%ti!is! abo"t the %ro-ressive effects of rationality in his acco"nt of the "nfoldin- of the !odern E"ro%ean econo!ic syste! 9:HHD;. This effort to derive a fi4ed series of sta-es as a tool of inter%retation of the history of civili6ation is re%eated thro"-ho"t the ei-hteenth and nineteenth cent"riesG it finds e4%ression in $e-el's %hiloso%hy 9disc"ssed below;) as well as 'ar4's !aterialist theory of the develo%!ent of econo!ic !odes of %rod"ction 9'ar4 and En-els :FABEACG 'ar4 and En-els :FAF;. The effort to find directionality or sta-es in history fo"nd a new e4%ression in the early twentieth cent"ry) in the hands of several 2!eta,historians3 who so"-ht to %rovide a !acro,inter%retation that bro"-ht order to world history8 S%en-ler 9:C@A;) Toynbee 9:C@A;) Wittfo-el 9:C@B;) and (atti!ore 9:C@>;. These a"thors offered a readin- of world history in ter!s of the rise and fall of civili6ations) races) or c"lt"res. Their writin-s were not %ri!arily ins%ired by %hiloso%hical or theolo-ical theories) b"t they were also not wor1s of %ri!ary historical scholarshi%. S%en-ler and Toynbee %ortrayed h"!an history as a coherent %rocess in which civili6ations %ass thro"-h s%ecific sta-es of yo"th)

!at"rity) and senescence. Wittfo-el and (atti!ore inter%reted Asian civili6ations in ter!s of lar-e deter!inin- factors. Wittfo-el contrasts China's history with that of E"ro%e by characteri6in- China's civili6ation as one of 2hydra"lic des%otis!3) with the attendant conse7"ence that China's history was cyclical rather than directional. (atti!ore a%%lies the 1ey of -eo-ra%hic and ecolo-ical deter!inis! to the develo%!ent of Asian civili6ation 9Rowe forthco!in-;. A le-iti!ate criticis! of !any efforts to offer an inter%retation of the swee% of history is the view that it loo1s for !eanin- where none can e4ist. nter%retation of individ"al actions and life histories is intelli-ible) beca"se we can -ro"nd o"r attrib"tions of !eanin- in a theory of the individ"al %erson as %ossessin- and creatin- !eanin-s. #"t there is no s"%er,a-ent lyin- behind historical events<for e4a!%le) the French Revol"tion<and so it is a cate-ory !ista1e to atte!%t to find the !eanin- of the feat"res of the event 9e.-.) the Terror;. The theolo-ical a%%roach %"r%orts to evade this criticis! by attrib"tin- a-ency to 5od as the a"thor of history) b"t the ass"!%tion that there is a divine a"thor of history ta1es the !a1in- of history o"t of the hands of h"!anity. Efforts to discern lar-e sta-es in history s"ch as those of Iico) S%en-ler) or Toynbee are v"lnerable to a different criticis! based on their !ono,ca"sal inter%retations of the f"ll co!%le4ity of h"!an history. These a"thors sin-le o"t one factor that is tho"-ht to drive history8 a "niversal h"!an nat"re 9Iico;) or a co!!on set of civili6ational challen-es 9S%en-ler) Toynbee;. #"t their hy%otheses need to be eval"ated on the basis of e!%irical evidence. And the evidence fro! the lar-e feat"res of historical chan-e over the %ast three !illennia offers little s"%%ort for the idea of one fi4ed %rocess of civili6ational develo%!ent. nstead) h"!an history) at virt"ally every scale) a%%ears to e!body a lar-e de-ree of contin-ency and !"lti%le %athways of develo%!ent. This is not to say that there are no credible 2lar-e historical3 inter%retations available for h"!an history and society. For e4a!%le) 'ichael 'ann's sociolo-y of early a-rarian civili6ations 9:CFD;) ?e Iries and 5o"dsblo!'s efforts at -lobal environ!ental history 9>JJ>;) and Kared ?ia!ond's treat!ent of disease and warfare 9:CCH; offer e4a!%les of scholars who atte!%t to e4%lain so!e lar-e feat"res of h"!an history on the basis of a few co!!on h"!an circ"!stances8 the efforts of states to collect reven"es) the need of h"!an co!!"nities to e4%loit reso"rces) or the -lobal trans!ission of disease. The challen-e for !acro,history is to %reserve the disci%line of e!%irical eval"ation for the lar-e hy%otheses that are %"t forward.

2.3. Hegel's philosophy of history

$e-el's %hiloso%hy of history is %erha%s the !ost f"lly develo%ed %hiloso%hical theory of history that atte!%ts to discover !eanin- or direction in history 9:F>Aa) :F>Ab) :FBH;. $e-el re-ards history as an intelli-ible %rocess !ovin- towards a s%ecific condition<the reali6ation of h"!an freedo!. 2The 7"estion at iss"e is therefore the "lti!ate end of !an1ind) the end which the s%irit sets itself in the world3 9:FBH8 D@;. $e-el incor%orates a dee%er historicis! into his %hiloso%hical theories than his %redecessors or s"ccessors. $e re-ards the relationshi% between 2objective3 history and the s"bjective develo%!ent of the individ"al conscio"sness 92s%irit3; as an inti!ate oneG this is a central thesis in his

Pheno enolo"y of Spirit 9:FJH;. And he views it to be a central tas1 for %hiloso%hy to co!%rehend its %lace in the "nfoldin- of history. 2$istory is the %rocess whereby the s%irit discovers itself and its own conce%t3 9:FBH8 D>;. $e-el constr"cts world history into a narrative of sta-es of h"!an freedo!) fro! the %"blic freedo! of the %olis and the citi6enshi% of the Ro!an Re%"blic) to the individ"al freedo! of the Protestant Refor!ation) to the civic freedo! of the !odern state. $e atte!%ts to incor%orate the civili6ations of ndia and China into his "nderstandin- of world history) tho"-h he re-ards those civili6ations as static and therefore %re,historical 9+'#rien :CHB;. $e constr"cts s%ecific !o!ents as 2world,historical3 events that were in the %rocess of brin-in- abo"t the final) f"ll sta-e of history and h"!an freedo!. For e4a!%le) Na%oleon's con7"est of !"ch of E"ro%e is %ortrayed as a world,historical event doinhistory's wor1 by establishin- the ter!s of the rational b"rea"cratic state. $e-el finds reason in historyG b"t it is a latent reason) and one that can only be co!%rehended when the f"llness of history's wor1 is finished8 2When %hiloso%hy %aints its -rey on -rey) then has a sha%e of life -rown old. L The owl of 'inerva s%reads its win-s only with the fallin- of the d"s13 99$e-el :F>:8 :@;. 9See +'#rien 9:CHB;) Taylor 9:CHB;) and 0ojMve 9:CDC; for treat!ents of $e-el's %hiloso%hy of history.; t is worth observin- that $e-el's %hiloso%hy of history is not the caricat"re of s%ec"lative %hiloso%hical reasonin- that analytic %hiloso%hers so!eti!es %aint it. $is %hiloso%hical a%%roach is not based solely on fo"ndational a%riori reasonin-. nstead he %ro%oses an 2i!!anent3 enco"nter between %hiloso%hical reason and the historical -iven. $is %rescri%tion is that the %hiloso%her sho"ld see1 to discover the rational within the real<not to i!%ose the rational "%on the real. 2To co!%rehend what is) this is the tas1 of %hiloso%hy) beca"se what is) is reason3 9:F>:8 ::;. $is a%%roach is neither %"rely %hiloso%hical nor %"rely e!%iricalG instead) he "nderta1es to discover within the best historical 1nowled-e of his ti!e) an "nderlyin- rational %rinci%le that can be %hiloso%hically artic"lated 9Avineri :CH>;.

2. . Hermeneutic approaches to history

Another i!%ortant strand of continental %hiloso%hy of history %ro%oses to a%%ly her!ene"tics to %roble!s of historical inter%retation. This a%%roach foc"ses on the !eanin- of the actions and intentions of historical individ"als rather than historical wholes. This tradition derives fro! the tradition of scholarly #iblical inter%retation. $er!ene"tic scholars e!%hasi6ed the lin-"istic and sy!bolic core of h"!an interactions and !aintained that the techni7"es that had been develo%ed for the %"r%ose of inter%retin- te4ts co"ld also be e!%loyed to inter%ret sy!bolic h"!an actions and %rod"cts. Wilhel! ?ilthey !aintained that the h"!an sciences were inherently distinct fro! the nat"ral sciences in that the for!er de%end on the "nderstandin- of !eanin-f"l h"!an actions) while the latter de%end on ca"sal e4%lanation of non,intensional events 9:FF@) :FDJ,:CJ@) :C:J;. $"!an life is str"ct"red and carried o"t thro"-h !eanin-f"l action and sy!bolic e4%ressions. ?ilthey !aintains that the intellect"al tools of her!ene"tics<the inter%retation of !eanin-f"l te4ts<are s"ited to the inter%retation of h"!an action and history. The !ethod of #erstehen 9"nderstandin-; !a1es a !ethodolo-y of this a%%roachG it invites the thin1er to en-a-e in an active constr"ction of

the !eanin-s and intentions of the actors fro! their %oint of view 9+"thwaite :CHB;. This line of inter%retation of h"!an history fo"nd e4%ression in the twentieth,cent"ry %hiloso%hical writin-s of $eide--er) 5ada!er) Ricoe"r) and Fo"ca"lt. This tradition a%%roaches the %hiloso%hy of history fro! the %ers%ective of !eanin- and lan-"a-e. t ar-"es that historical 1nowled-e de%ends "%on inter%retation of !eanin-f"l h"!an actions and %ractices. $istorians sho"ld %robe historical events and actions in order to discover the interconnections of !eanin- and sy!bolic interaction that h"!an actions have created 9Sherratt >JJD;. The her!ene"tic tradition too1 an i!%ortant new t"rn in the !id,twentieth cent"ry) as %hiloso%hers atte!%ted to !a1e sense of !odern historical develo%!ents incl"din- war) ethnic and national hatred) and holoca"st. Narratives of %ro-ress were no lon-er co!%ellin-) followin- the terrible events of the first half of the twentieth cent"ry. The foc"s of this a%%roach !i-ht be labeled 2history as re!e!brance.3 Contrib"tors to this strand of tho"-ht e!er-ed fro! twentieth,cent"ry E"ro%ean %hiloso%hy) incl"dine4istentialis! and 'ar4is!) and were infl"enced by the search for !eanin- in the $oloca"st. Pa"l Ricoe"r draws o"t the %arallels between %ersonal !e!ory) c"lt"ral !e!ory) and history 9>JJJ;. ?o!inic1 (aCa%ra brin-s the tools of inter%retation theory and critical theory to bear on his treat!ent of the re%resentation of the tra"!a of the $oloca"st 9:CCA) :CCF;. +thers e!%hasi6e the role that fol1 histories %lay in the constr"ction and inter%retation of 2o"r3 %ast. This is a the!e that has been ta1en "% by conte!%orary historians) for e4a!%le) by 'ichael 0a!!en in his treat!ent of %"blic re!e!brance of the A!erican Civil War 9:CC:;. 'e!ory and the re%resentation of the %ast %lays a 1ey role in the for!ation of racial and national identitiesG n"!ero"s twentieth,cent"ry %hiloso%hers have noted the de-ree of s"bjectivity and constr"ction that are inherent in the national !e!ories re%resented in a -ro"%'s tellin- of its history. Altho"-h not hi!self fallin- within the continental linea-e) R. 5. Collin-wood's %hiloso%hy of history falls within the -eneral fra!ewor1 of her!ene"tic %hiloso%hy of history 9:CAD;. Collin-wood foc"ses on the 7"estion of how to s%ecify the content of history. $e ar-"es that history is constit"ted by h"!an actions. Actions are the res"lt of intentional deliberation and choiceG so historians are able to e4%lain historical %rocesses 2fro! within3 as a reconstr"ction of the tho"-ht %rocesses of the a-ents who brin- the! abo"t.

3. !nglo"!merican philosophy of history

The traditions of e!%iricis! and An-lo,A!erican %hiloso%hy have also devoted occasional attention to history. Philoso%hers in this tradition have avoided the 7"estions of s%ec"lative %hiloso%hy of history and have instead raised 7"estions abo"t the lo-ic and e%iste!olo-y of historical 1nowled-e. $ere the -"idin- 7"estion is) 2What are the lo-ical and e%iste!olo-ical characteristics of historical 1nowled-e and historical e4%lanation=3 ?avid $"!e's e!%iricis! cast a do!inant 1ey for al!ost all s"bse7"ent An-lo,A!erican %hiloso%hy) and this infl"ence e4tends to the inter%retation of h"!an behavior and the h"!an sciences. $"!e wrote a widely read history of En-land 9:HBAE:HD>;. $is

inter%retation of history was based on the ass"!%tion of ordinary actions) !otives) and ca"ses) with no sy!%athy for theolo-ical inter%retations of the %ast. $is %hiloso%hical view of history was %re!ised on the idea that e4%lanations of the %ast can be based on the ass"!%tion of a fi4ed h"!an nat"re. An-lo,A!erican interest in the %hiloso%hy of history was renewed at !id,twentieth cent"ry with the e!er-ence of 2analytical %hiloso%hy of history.3 Re%resentative contrib"tors incl"de ?ray 9:CBH) :CDA) :CDD;) ?anto 9:CDB;) and 5ardiner 9:CB>) :CHA;. This a%%roach involves the a%%lication of the !ethods and tools of analytic %hiloso%hy to the s%ecial %roble!s that arise in the %"rs"it of historical e4%lanations and historical 1nowled-e 95ardiner :CB>;. $ere the interest is in the characteristics of historical 1nowled-e8 how we 1now facts abo"t the %ast) what constit"tes a -ood historical e4%lanation) whether e4%lanations in history re7"ire -eneral laws) and whether historical 1nowled-e is "nderdeter!ined by available historical evidence. Analytic %hiloso%hers e!%hasi6ed the e!%irical and scientific stat"s of historical 1nowled-e) and atte!%ted to "nderstand this clai! alon- the lines of the scientific standin- of the nat"ral sciences 9Na-el :CD:;. Philoso%hers in the analytic tradition have dee% s1e%ticis! abo"t the %ower of non, e!%irical reason to arrive at s"bstantive concl"sions abo"t the str"ct"re of the world< incl"din- h"!an history. Philoso%hical reasonin- by itself cannot be a so"rce of s"bstantive 1nowled-e abo"t the nat"ral world) or abo"t the se7"ence of events) actions) states) classes) e!%ires) %la-"es) and con7"ests that we call 2history.3 Rather) s"bstantive 1nowled-e abo"t the world can only derive fro! e!%irical investi-ation and lo-ical analysis of the conse7"ences of these findin-s. So analytic %hiloso%hers of history have had little interest in the lar-e 7"estions abo"t the !eanin- and str"ct"re of history considered above. The %ractitioners of s%ec"lative %hiloso%hy of history) on the other hand) are convinced of the %ower of %hiloso%hical tho"-ht to reason thro"-h to a fo"ndational "nderstandin- of history) and wo"ld be i!%atient with a call for a %"rely e!%irical and conce%t"al a%%roach to the s"bject.

3.1. #eneral la$s in history?

The %hiloso%her of science Carl $e!%el sti!"lated analytic %hiloso%hers' interest in historical 1nowled-e in his essay) 2The F"nction of 5eneral (aws in $istory3 9:CA>;. $e!%el's -eneral theory of scientific e4%lanation held that all scientific e4%lanations re7"ire s"bs"!%tion "nder -eneral laws. $e!%el considered historical e4%lanation as an a%%arent e4ce%tion to the coverin-,law !odel and atte!%ted to show the s"itability of the coverin-,law !odel even to this s%ecial case. $e ar-"ed that valid historical e4%lanations too !"st invo1e -eneral laws. The coverin-,law a%%roach to historical e4%lanation was s"%%orted by other analytical %hiloso%hers of science) incl"din- Ernest Na-el 9:CD:;. $e!%el's essay %rovo1ed a %rolon-ed controversy between s"%%orters who cited -enerali6ations abo"t h"!an behavior as the relevant -eneral laws) and critics who ar-"ed that historical e4%lanations are !ore a1in to e4%lanations of individ"al behavior) based on inter%retation that !a1es the o"tco!e co!%rehensible. Es%ecially i!%ortant disc"ssions were offered by Willia! ?ray 9:CBH;) 'ichael Scriven 9:CD>;) and Alan

?ona-an 9:CDD;. ?ona-an and others %ointed o"t the diffic"lty that !any social e4%lanations de%end on %robabilistic re-"larities rather than "niversal laws. +thers) incl"din- Scriven) %ointed o"t the %ra-!atic feat"res of e4%lanation) s"--estin- that ar-"!ents that fall far short of ded"ctive validity are nonetheless s"fficient to 2e4%lain3 a -iven historical event in a -iven conte4t of belief. The !ost f"nda!ental objections) however) are these8 first) that there are virt"ally no -ood e4a!%les of "niversal laws in history) whether of h"!an behavior or of historical event s"ccession 9?ona-an :CDD8 :A@EAB;G and second) that there are other co!%ellin- sche!ata thro"-h which we can "nderstand historical actions and o"tco!es that do not involve s"bs"!%tion "nder -eneral laws 9Elster :CFC;. These incl"de the %rocesses of reasonin- thro"-h which we "nderstand individ"al actions<analo-o"s to the !ethods of #erstehen and the inter%retation of rational behavior !entioned above 9?ray :CDD8 :@:E@H;G and the %rocesses thro"-h which we can trace o"t chains of ca"sation witho"t invo1in- "niversal laws. A caref"l re,readin- of these debates over the coverin-,law !odel in history leads to the assess!ent that the debate too1 %lace lar-ely beca"se of the erroneo"s ass"!%tion of the "nity of science and the %ost"lation of the re-"lative lo-ical si!ilarity of all areas of scientific reasonin- to a few clear e4a!%les of e4%lanation in a few nat"ral sciences. This a%%roach was a dee%ly i!%overished one) and handica%%ed fro! the start in its ability to %ose -en"inely i!%ortant 7"estions abo"t the nat"re of history and historical 1nowled-e. E4%lanation of h"!an actions and o"tco!es sho"ld not be "nderstood alon- the lines of an e4%lanation of why radiators b"rst when the te!%erat"re falls below 6ero de-rees centi-rade. As ?ona-an concl"des) 2 t is har!f"l to overloo1 the f"nda!ental identity of the social sciences with history) and to !"tilate research into h"!an affairs by re!odelin- the social sciences into defor!ed li1enesses of %hysics3 9:CDD8 :BH;. The insistence on nat"ralistic !odels for social and historical research leads easily to a %res"!%tion in favor of the coverin-,law !odel of e4%lanation) b"t this %res"!%tion is !isleadin-.

3.2. Historical o%&ectivity

Another iss"e that %rovo1ed si-nificant attention a!on- analytic %hiloso%hers of history is the iss"e of 2objectivity.3 s it %ossible for historical 1nowled-e to objectively re%resent the %ast= +r are for!s of bias) o!ission) selection) and inter%retation s"ch as to !a1e all historical re%resentations de%endent on the %ers%ective of the individ"al historian= ?oes the fact that h"!an actions are val"e,laden !a1e it i!%ossible for the historian to %rovide a non,val"e,laden acco"nt of those actions= This to%ic divides into several different %roble!s) as noted by Kohn Pass!ore 9:CDD8 HD;. The !ost st"died of these within the analytic tradition is that of the val"e,ladenness of social action. Second is the %ossibility that the historian's inter%retations are the!selves val"e,laden<raisin- the 7"estion of the ca%acity for objectivity or ne"trality of the historian herself. ?oes the intellect"al have the ability to investi-ate the world witho"t re-ard to the biases that are b"ilt into her %olitical or ethical beliefs) her ideolo-y) or her co!!it!ents to a class or a social -ro"%= And third is the 7"estion of the objectivity of

the historical circ"!stances the!selves. s there a fi4ed historical reality) inde%endent fro! later re%resentations of the facts= +r is history intrinsically 2constr"cted)3 with no objective reality inde%endent fro! the ways in which it is constr"cted= s there a reality corres%ondin- to the %hrase) 2the French Revol"tion)3 or is there si!%ly an acc"!"lation of written versions of the French Revol"tion= There are sol"tions to each of these %roble!s that are hi-hly consonant with the %hiloso%hical ass"!%tions of the analytic tradition. First) concernin- val"es8 There is no f"nda!ental diffic"lty in reconcilin- the idea of a researcher with one set of reli-io"s val"es) who nonetheless caref"lly traces o"t the reli-io"s val"es of a historical actor %ossessin- radically different val"es. This research can be done badly) of co"rseG b"t there is no inherent e%iste!ic barrier that !a1es it i!%ossible for the researcher to e4a!ine the body of state!ents) behaviors) and conte!%orary c"lt"ral instit"tions corres%ondin- to the other) and to co!e to a j"stified re%resentation of the other. +ne need not share the val"es or worldview of a sans$culotte) in order to arrive at a j"stified a%%raisal of those val"es and worldview. This leads "s to a resol"tion of the second iss"e as well<the %ossibility of ne"trality on the %art of the researcher. The set of e%iste!ic val"es that we i!%art to scientists and historians incl"de the val"e of intellect"al disci%line and a willin-ness to s"bject their hy%otheses to the test of "nco!fortable facts. +nce a-ain) review of the history of science and historical writin- !a1es it a%%arent that this intellect"al val"e has effect. There are %lentif"l e4a!%les of scientists and historians whose concl"sions are -"ided by their interro-ation of the evidence rather than their ideolo-ical %res"%%ositions. +bjectivity in %"rs"it of tr"th is itself a val"e) and one that can be followed. Finally) on the 7"estion of the objectivity of the %ast8 s there a basis for sayin- that events or circ"!stances in the %ast have objective) fi4ed characteristics that are inde%endent fro! o"r re%resentation of those events= s there a re%resentation, inde%endent reality "nderlyin- the lar-e historical str"ct"res to which historians co!!only refer 9the Ro!an E!%ire) the 5reat Wall of China) the i!%erial ad!inistration of the Nianlon- E!%eror;= We can wor1 o"r way caref"lly thro"-h this iss"e) by reco-ni6in- a distinction between the objectivity of %ast events) actions and circ"!stances) the objectivity of the conte!%orary facts that res"lted fro! these %ast events) and the objectivity and fi4ity of lar-e historical entities. The %ast occ"rred in %recisely the way that it did<a-ents acted) dro"-hts occ"rred) ar!ies were defeated) new technolo-ies were invented. These occ"rrences left traces of varyin- de-rees of infor!ation richnessG and these traces -ive "s a rational basis for arrivin- at beliefs abo"t the occ"rrences of the %ast. So we can offer a non,controversial inter%retation of the 2objectivity of the %ast.3 $owever) this objectivity of events and occ"rrences does not e4tend very far "%ward as we consider !ore abstract historical events8 the creation of the 5ree1 city,state) the invention of Enli-hten!ent rationality) the Tai%in- Rebellion. n each of these instances the no"n's referent is an inter%retive constr"ction by historical actors and historians) and one that !ay be "ndone by f"t"re historians. To refer to the 2Tai%in- Rebellion3 re7"ires an act of synthesis of a lar-e n"!ber of historical facts) alon- with an inter%retive story that draws these facts to-ether in this way rather than that way. The "nderlyin- facts of behavior) and their historical traces) re!ainG b"t the

1nittin-,to-ether of these facts into a lar-e historical event does not constit"te an objective historical entity. Consider research in the %ast twenty years that 7"estions the e4istence of the 2 nd"strial Revol"tion.3 n this debate) the sa!e set of historical facts were first constr"cted into an abr"%t e%isode of 7"alitative chan-e in technolo-y and o"t%"t in Western E"ro%eG "nder the !ore recent inter%retation) these chan-es were !ore -rad"al and less correctly characteri6ed as a 2revol"tion3 9+'#rien and 0eyder :CHF;. +r consider Arth"r Waldron's s"stained and detailed ar-"!ent to the effect that there was no 25reat Wall of China)3 as that str"ct"re is "s"ally conce%t"ali6ed 9:CCJ;.

3.3. Causation in history

A third i!%ortant set of iss"es that received attention fro! analytic %hiloso%hers concerned the role of ca"sal ascri%tions in historical e4%lanations. What is involved in sayin- that 2The A!erican Civil War was ca"sed by econo!ic conflict between the North and the So"th3= ?oes ca"sal ascri%tion re7"ire identifyin- an "nderlyin- ca"sal re-"larity<for e4a!%le) 2%eriods of ra%id inflation ca"se %olitical instability3= s ca"sation established by discoverin- a set of necessary and s"fficient conditions= Can we identify ca"sal connections a!on- historical events by tracin- a series of ca"sal !echanis!s lin1in- one to the ne4t= This to%ic raises the related %roble! of deter!inis! in history8 are certain events inevitable in the circ"!stances= Was the fall of the Ro!an E!%ire inevitable) -iven the confi-"ration of !ilitary and !aterial circ"!stances %rior to the cr"cial events= Analytic %hiloso%hers of history !ost co!!only a%%roached these iss"es on the basis of a theory of ca"sation drawn fro! %ositivist %hiloso%hy of science. This theory is "lti!ately -ro"nded in $"!ean ass"!%tions abo"t ca"sation8 that ca"sation is nothinb"t constant conj"nction. So analytic %hiloso%hers were drawn to the coverin-,law !odel of e4%lanation) beca"se it a%%eared to %rovide a basis for assertin- historical ca"sation. As noted above) this a%%roach to ca"sal e4%lanation is fatally flawed in the social sciences) beca"se "niversal ca"sal re-"larities a!on- social %heno!ena are "navailable. So it is necessary either to arrive at other inter%retations of ca"sality or to abandon the lan-"a-e of ca"sality. A second a%%roach was to define ca"ses in ter!s of a set of ca"sally relevant conditions for the occ"rrence of the event<for e4a!%le) necessary andOor s"fficient conditions) or a set of conditions that enhance or red"ce the li1elihood of the event. This a%%roach fo"nd s"%%ort in 2ordinary lan-"a-e3 %hiloso%hy and in analysis of the "se of ca"sal lan-"a-e in s"ch conte4ts as the co"rtroo! 9$art and $onorP :CBC;. Co"nterfact"al reasonin- is an i!%ortant ele!ent of discovery of a set of necessary andOor s"fficient conditionsG to say that C was necessary for the occ"rrence of E re7"ires that we %rovide evidence that E wo"ld not have occ"rred if C were not %resent 9'ac1ie :CDB) :CHA;. And it is evident that there are ca"sal circ"!stances in which no sin-le factor is necessary for the occ"rrence of the effectG the o"tco!e !ay be overdeter!ined by !"lti%le inde%endent factors. The conver-ence of reasons and ca"ses in historical %rocesses is hel%f"l in this conte4t) beca"se historical ca"ses are fre7"ently the effect of deliberate h"!an action 9?avidson :CD@;. So s%ecifyin- the reason for the action is si!"ltaneo"sly identifyin- a %art of the

ca"se of the conse7"ences of the action. t is often j"stifiable to identify a concrete action as the ca"se of a %artic"lar event 9a circ"!stance that was s"fficient in the e4istincirc"!stances to brin- abo"t the o"tco!e;) and it is feasible to %rovide a convincininter%retation of the reasons that led the actor to carry o"t the action. What analytic %hiloso%hers of the :CDJs did not co!e to) b"t what is cr"cial for c"rrent "nderstandin- of historical ca"sality) is the feasibility of tracin- ca"sal !echanis!s thro"-h a co!%le4 series of events 9ca"sal realis!;. $istorical narratives often ta1e the for! of an acco"nt of a series of events) each of which was a ca"sal condition or tri--er for later events. S"bse7"ent research in the %hiloso%hy of the social sciences has %rovided s"bstantial s"%%ort for historical e4%lanations that de%end on tracin- a series of ca"sal !echanis!s 9$edstrQ! and Swedber- :CCF;.

3. . 'ecent topics in the philosophy of history

En-lish,s%ea1in- %hiloso%hy of history shifted si-nificantly in the :CHJs) be-innin- with the %"blication of $ayden White's %etahistory 9:CH@; and (o"is 'in1's writin-s of the sa!e %eriod 9:CDDG 'in1 et al. :CFH;. The so,called 2lin-"istic t"rn3 that !ar1ed !any areas of %hiloso%hy and literat"re also infl"enced the %hiloso%hy of history. Whereas analytic %hiloso%hy of history had e!%hasi6ed scientific analo-ies for historical 1nowled-e and advanced the -oals of verifiability and -enerali6ability in historical 1nowled-e) En-lish,s%ea1in- %hiloso%hers in the :CHJs and :CFJs were increasin-ly infl"enced by her!ene"tic %hiloso%hy) %ost,!odernis!) and French literary theory 9Rorty :CHC;. These %hiloso%hers e!%hasi6ed the rhetoric of historical writin-) the non, red"cibility of historical narrative to a se7"ence of 2facts3) and the de-ree of constr"ction that is involved in historical re%resentation. Affinities with literat"re and anthro%olo-y ca!e to ecli%se e4a!%les fro! the nat"ral sciences as -"ides for re%resentin- historical 1nowled-e and historical "nderstandin-. The richness and te4t"re of the historical narrative ca!e in for -reater attention than the atte!%t to %rovide ca"sal e4%lanations of historical o"tco!es. Fran1 An1ers!it ca%t"red !any of these the!es in his treat!ent of historical narrative 9:CCBG An1ers!it and 0ellner :CCB;G see also #er1hofer 9:CCB;. Another i!%ortant strand of thin1in- within analytic %hiloso%hy has foc"sed attention on historical ontolo-y 9$ac1in- >JJ>;. This 2new3 %hiloso%hy of history is distin-"ished fro! analytic %hiloso%hy of history in several i!%ortant res%ects. t e!%hasi6es historical narrative rather than historical ca"sation. t is intellect"ally closer to the her!ene"tic tradition than to the %ositivis! that "nderlay the analytic %hiloso%hy of history of the :CDJs. t hi-hli-hts feat"res of s"bjectivity and !"lti%le inter%retation over those of objectivity) tr"th) and corres%ondence to the facts. Another i!%ortant strand in this a%%roach to the %hiloso%hy of history is a clear theoretical %reference for the historicist rather than the "niversalist %osition on the stat"s of h"!an nat"re<$erder rather than Iico. The %revalent %ers%ective holds that h"!an conscio"sness is itself a historical %rod"ct) and that it is an i!%ortant %art of the historian's wor1 to %iece to-ether the !entality and ass"!%tions of actors in the %ast 9Po!%a :CCJ;. Si-nificantly) conte!%orary historians s"ch as Robert ?arnton have t"rned to the tools of ethno-ra%hy to %er!it this sort of discovery 9:CFA;.

. (opics from the historians

There is another c"rrent of thin1in- abo"t the %hiloso%hy of history that deserves !ore attention fro! %hiloso%hers than it has so far received. t is the wor1 of %hiloso%hically !inded historians and h"!an scientists treatin- fa!iliar b"t badly "nderstood historical conce%ts8 ca"sation) historical e%och) social str"ct"re) h"!an a-ency) !entality) and the li1e. These writin-s re%resent a !iddle,level a%%roach to iss"es havin- to do with the lo-ic of historical disco"rse. This a%%roach %"ts aside the lar-est 7"estions<3?oes history have !eanin-=3) 2Can we have 1nowled-e of the %ast=3<in favor of 7"estions that are !ore inti!ately associated with the act"al reasonin- and disco"rse of historians as they atte!%t to cate-ori6e and e4%lain the %ast. Contrib"tions at this level !i-ht be referred to as 2!iddle,level historical !eta%hysics3. Philoso%hically reflective historians and historical social scientists as1 critical 7"estions abo"t the conce%ts and ass"!%tions that are often bro"-ht into historical thin1in-) and they atte!%t to %rovide !ore ade7"ate e4%lication of these conce%ts -iven their own enco"nters with the challen-es of historical research and historical e4%lanation. Willia! Sewell %rovides an e4a!%le in his treat!ent of the conce%t of a 2historical event3 and the associated ass"!%tions that social scientists !a1e abo"t the te!%orality of historical events 9>JJB;. Andrew Abbott 7"estions the ass"!%tions that historians !a1e abo"t the ontolo-ical stat"s of 2historical thin-s3 9for e4a!%le) the Chica-o school of sociolo-y;) ar-"in- that historical thin-s are inherently !alleable and %lastic over ti!e 9:CCC;. Charles Tilly challen-es a co!!on ass"!%tion that ca"sal reasonin- de%ends on identifyin- bac1-ro"nd ca"sal re-"laritiesG he ar-"es instead for an a%%roach to ca"sal reasonin- that e!%hasi6es the role of concrete ca"sal !echanis!s 9'cAda!) Tarrow) and Tilly >JJ:;. E. P. Tho!%son offers an analysis of the conce%t of 2class conscio"sness3 that forces historians to avoid the error of reification when considerins"ch social constr"cts as conscio"sness or %olitical !ove!ents 9:CDD;. Si!on Scha!a 7"estions the conce%t of an objective historical narrative that serves to ca%t"re the tr"e state of affairs abo"t even fairly si!%le historical occ"rrences 9:CC:;. Charles Sabel casts do"bt on the idea of fi4ed %atterns of historical develo%!ent) ar-"in- that there were alternative %athways available even within the classic case of econo!ic develo%!ent in western E"ro%e 9Sabel and Reitlin :CCH;. 'arshall Sahlins "nderlines the essential role that the inter%retation of c"lt"re sho"ld %lay in o"r ability to read history<whether of the Pelo%onnesian War or the Polynesian War) and sheds i!%ortant new li-ht on the 7"estion of the 2historical s"bject3 or a-ent of history 9>JJA;. And the literary critic and advocate of the 2new historicis!3 in literary st"dies) Ste%hen 5reenblatt) de!onstrates the historical insi-hts that can res"lt fro! a close literary readin- of so!e of the %ri!ary doc"!ents of history<for e4a!%le) the jo"rnals of Christo%her Col"!b"s 95reenblatt :CC:;. As these e4a!%les ill"strate) there is a!%le roo! for %rod"ctive e4chan-e between %hiloso%hers with an interest in the nat"re of history and the historians and social scientists who have reflected dee%ly on the co!%le4ities of the conce%ts and ass"!%tions we "se in historical analysis.

). 'ethin*ing the philosophy of history

t !ay be "sef"l to close with a s1etch of a %ossible fra!ewor1 for an "%dated %hiloso%hy of history. Any area of %hiloso%hy is driven by a few central %"66les. n the area of the %hiloso%hy of history) the !ost f"nda!ental 7"estions re!ain "nresolved8 9:; What is the nat"re of the reality of historical str"ct"res and entities 9states) e!%ires) reli-io"s !ove!ents;= Can we %rovide a conce%tion of historical and social entities that avoids the error of reification b"t -ives so!e credible reality to the entities that are %ost"lated= 9>; What is the nat"re of ca"sal infl"ence a!on- historical events or str"ct"res that "nderwrites historical e4%lanations= $istorical ca"sation is not analo-o"s to nat"ral necessity in the do!ain of %hysical ca"sation) beca"se there are no fi4ed laws that -overn historical events. So we need to %rovide an acco"nt of the nat"re of the ca"sal %owers that historical factors are %ost"lated to have. 9@; What role does the inter%retation of the 2lived e4%erience3 of %ast actors %lay in historical "nderstandin-) and how does the historian arrive at j"stified state!ents abo"t this lived e4%erience= s it %ossible to arrive at j"stified inter%retations of lon-,dead actors) their !entalities and their actions= $ow does this %heno!enolo-ical reality %lay into the acco"nt of historical ca"sation= 9A; Can we -ive an esti!ate of the overall confidence we can have abo"t state!ents abo"t the %ast) abo"t the feat"res of %ast instit"tions) str"ct"res) and actors) and abo"t the e4%lanatory relations a!on- the!= +r does all historical 1nowled-e re!ain %er!anently 7"estionable= A new %hiloso%hy of history will shed li-ht on these f"nda!ental iss"es. t will en-a-e with the her!ene"tic and narrativist c"rrents that have been i!%ortant in the continental tradition and have arisen in recent years in An-lo,A!erican %hiloso%hy. t will incor%orate the ri-oro"s e%iste!ic e!%hasis that is associated with analytic %hiloso%hy of history) b"t will se%arate itself fro! the restrictive ass"!%tions of %ositivis!. A new %hiloso%hy of history will -ra%%le with iss"es of social e4%lanation that have been so i!%ortant for the c"rrent -eneration of social,science historians and will incor%orate the best c"rrent "nderstandin-s of the %hiloso%hy of social science abo"t social ontolo-y and e4%lanation. A handf"l of ontolo-ical ass"!%tions can be offered. $istory consists of h"!an actions within h"!anly e!bodied instit"tions and str"ct"res. There is no s"%er,h"!an a-ency in history. There is no s"%er,h"!an !eanin- or %ro-ress in historyG there is only a series of events and %rocesses driven by concrete ca"sal %rocesses and individ"al actions. Followin- ?avidson 9:CD@; and Taylor 9:CFB;) there is no inconsistency between reasons and ca"ses) "nderstandin- and e4%lanation. $istorical e4%lanation de%ends on both ca"sal,str"ct"ral reasonin- and inter%retation of actions and intentionsG so it is both ca"sal and her!ene"tic. There are no ca"sal laws or "niversal -enerali6ations within h"!an affairs. $owever) there is s"ch a thin- as social ca"sation) %roceedin- thro"-h the wor1in-s of h"!an a-ency and the constraints of instit"tions and str"ct"res. A le-iti!ate historical -oal is to identify ca"sal !echanis!s within historical %rocesses) and these !echanis!s invariably de%end on the actions of historical actors sit"ated within concrete social relations. (i1ewise) a basic e%iste!olo-y of historical 1nowled-e can be described. $istorical 1nowled-e de%ends on ordinary %roced"res of e!%irical investi-ation) and the

j"stification of historical clai!s de%ends on %rovidin- convincin- de!onstration of the e!%irical evidence that e4ists to s"%%ort or invalidate the clai!. There is s"ch a thin- as historical objectivity) in the sense that historians are ca%able of en-a-in- in -ood,faith interro-ation of the evidence in constr"ctin- their theories of the %ast. #"t this sho"ld not be "nderstood to i!%ly that there is one "ni7"ely tr"e inter%retation of historical %rocesses and events. Rather) there is a %erfectly ordinary sense in which historical inter%retations are "nderdeter!ined by the facts) and there are !"lti%le le-iti!ate historical 7"estions to %ose abo"t the sa!e body of evidence. $istorical narratives have a s"bstantial inter%retive co!%onent) and involve s"bstantial constr"ction of the %ast. Finally) a new %hiloso%hy of history will be sensitive to the variety of for!s of %resentation of historical 1nowled-e. The disci%line of history consists of !any threads) incl"din- ca"sal e4%lanation) !aterial descri%tion) and narrative inter%retation of h"!an action. $istorical narrative itself has several as%ects8 a her!ene"tic story that !a1es sense of a co!%licated set of actions by different actors) b"t also a ca"sal story conveyina set of ca"sal !echanis!s that ca!e to-ether to brin- abo"t an o"tco!e. #"t even !ore i!%ortantly) not all historical 1nowled-e is e4%ressed in narratives. Rather) there is a ran-e of co-nitive str"ct"res thro"-h which historical 1nowled-e is e4%ressed) fro! detailed !eas"re!ent of historical standards of livin-) to ca"sal ar-"!ents abo"t %o%"lation chan-e) to co!%arative historical acco"nts of si!ilar %rocesses in different historical settin-s. A new %hiloso%hy of history will ta1e the !eas"re of synchrono"s historical writin-G historical writin- that conveys a chan-in- set of econo!ic or str"ct"ral circ"!stancesG writin- that observes the chan-in- characteristics of a set of instit"tionsG writin- that records and analy6es a chan-in- set of beliefs and attit"des in a %o%"lationG and !any other varieties as well. These are i!%ortant feat"res of the str"ct"re of historical 1nowled-e) not si!%ly as%ects of the rhetoric of historical writin-.


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