Você está na página 1de 22

Cite this entry Search the SEP Advanced Search Tools RSS Feed Table of Contents What's New

New Archives Projected Contents Editorial nfor!ation Abo"t the SEP Editorial #oard $ow to Cite the SEP S%ecial Characters S"%%ort the SEP Contact the SEP & 'eta%hysics Research (ab) CS( ) Stanford *niversity

+%en access to the SEP is !ade %ossible by a world,wide f"ndin- initiative. Please Read $ow /o" Can $el% 0ee% the Encyclo%edia Free

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-.

+i%liography

Abbott) Andrew ?elano. :CCC. &epart ent ' discipline( )hica"o sociolo"y at one hundred. Chica-o) (8 *niversity of Chica-o Press. Anderson) #enedict R. +'5. :CF@. I a"ined co unities( reflections on the ori"in and spread of nationalis . (ondon8 Ierso. An1ers!it) F. R. :CCB. *an"ua"e and historical e+perience. #ielefeld8 RiF. An1ers!it) F. R.) and $ans 0ellner) eds. :CCB. , new philosophy of history. Chica-o8 *niversity of Chica-o Press. Avineri) Shlo!o. :CH>. He"el-s theory of the odern state) )a brid"e studies in the history and theory of politics. (ondon8 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. #er1hofer) Robert F. :CCB. .eyond the "reat story( history as te+t and discourse. Ca!brid-e) 'ass.8 #el1na% Press of $arvard *niversity Press. #erlin) saiah. >JJJ. !hree critics of the /nli"hten ent( 0ico, Ha ann, Herder. Edited by $. $ardy. Princeton) N.K.8 Princeton *niversity Press. Collin-wood) R. 5. :CAD. !he idea of history. +4ford) Clarendon Press. Condorcet) Kean,Antoine,Nicolas de Caritat. :HCB. S1etch for a historical picture of the pro"ress of the hu an ind. West%ort) Conn.8 5reenwood Press) :CHC.

?anto) Arth"r Cole!an. :CDB. ,nalytical philosophy of history. Ca!brid-e SEn-.T8 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. ?arnton) Robert. :CFA. !he "reat cat assacre and other episodes in French cultural history. New /or18 #asic #oo1s. ?avidson) ?onald. :CD@. Actions) Reasons) and Ca"ses. 2ournal of Philosophy DJ 9>@;8 DFBEHJJ. ?awson) Christo%her. :C>C. Pro"ress and reli"ion, an historical en3uiry. New /or18 Sheed and Ward. ?e Iries) #ert) and Kohan 5o"dsblo!. >JJ>. %appae undi( hu ans and their habitats in a lon"$ter socio$ecolo"ical perspecti#e( yths, aps and odels. A!sterda!8 A!sterda! *niversity Press. ?ia!ond) Kared '. :CCH. 4uns, "er s, and steel( the fates of hu an societies. :st ed. New /or18 W.W. Norton. ?ilthey) Wilhel!. :FF@. Introduction to the hu an sciences. Edited by R. A. 'a11reel and F. Rodi. Princeton) N.K.8 Princeton *niversity Press) :CFC. EEE. :FDJE:CJ@. Her eneutics and the study of history. Edited by R. A. 'a11reel and F. Rodi. Princeton) N.K.8 Princeton *niversity Press) :CCD. EEE. :C:J. !he for ation of the historical world in the hu an sciences. Edited by R. A. 'a11reel) F. Rodi and W. ?ilthey. Princeton) N.K.8 Princeton *niversity Press) >JJ>. ?ona-an) Alan. :CDD. 2The Po%%er,$e!%el Theory Reconsidered3 in Philosophical ,nalysis and History) edited by W. $. ?ray. New /or18 $ar%er U Row) %%. :>HE:BC. ?ray) Willia!. :CBH. *aws and e+planation in history. (ondon8 +4ford *niversity Press. EEE. :CDA. Philosophy of history. En-lewood Cliffs) N.K.8 Prentice,$all. EEE) ed. :CDD. Philosophical analysis and history) Sources in conte porary philosophy. New /or18 $ar%er U Row. Elster) Kon. :CFC. Nuts and .olts For the Social Sciences. Ca!brid-e8 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. Fo"ca"lt) 'ichel. :CH:. !he order of thin"s( an archaeolo"y of the hu an sciences. S:st A!ericanT ed) 5orld of an. New /or18 Pantheon #oo1s. 5ardiner) Patric1 (. :CB>. !he nature of historical e+planation. (ondon8 +4ford *niversity Press. EEE) ed. :CHA. !he philosophy of history) 6+ford readin"s in philosophy. (ondon G New /or18 +4ford *niversity Press. 5reenblatt) Ste%hen. :CC:. %ar#elous possessions( the wonder of the New 5orld. Chica-o8 *niversity of Chica-o Press. $ac1in-) an. :CCC. !he Social )onstruction of 5hat7 Ca!brid-e8 $arvard *niversity Press. EEE. >JJ>. Historical ontolo"y. Ca!brid-e) 'ass.G (ondon8 $arvard *niversity Press. $art) $. (. A.) and Tony $onorP. :CBC. )ausation in the law. +4ford8 Clarendon Press.

$edstrQ!) Peter) and Richard Swedber-) eds. :CCF. Social echanis s( an analytical approach to social theory) Studies in rationality and social chan"e. Ca!brid-e) *.0.G New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. $e-el) 5eor- Wilhel! Friedrich. :F>Aa. 8eason in history, a "eneral introduction to the philosophy of history. New /or18 (iberal Arts Press) :CB@. EEE. :F>Ab. !he philosophy of history. New /or18 ?over P"blications) :CBD. EEE. :F>:. !he Philosophy of 8i"ht. Edited by T. '. 0no4. (ondon) New /or1)8 +4ford *niversity Press) :CDH. EEE. :FBH. *ectures on the Philosophy of 5orld History. Translated by $. #. Nisbet. Iol. Ca!brid-e *niversity Press8 Ca!brid-e) :CHB. EEE. :FJH. Pheno enolo"y of spirit. Translated by A. I. 'iller. Edited by K. N. Findlay. +4ford8 Clarendon Press) :CHH. $erder) Kohann 5ottfried. :HC:. 8eflections on the philosophy of the history of an1ind. Edited by F. E. 'an"el) )lassic /uropean historians. Chica-o8 *niversity of Chica-o Press) :CDF. EEE. :FJJE:FHH. 6n world history( an antholo"y. Edited by $. Adler and E. A. 'en6e) Sources and studies in world history. Ar!on1) N./.8 '.E. Shar%e) :CCD. $"!e) ?avid. :HBAE:HD>. !he History of /n"land. Edited by W. #. Todd. D vols) Indianapolis. (iberty Classics) :CF@. 0a!!en) 'ichael 5. :CC:. %ystic chords of e ory( the transfor ation of tradition in , erican culture. :st ed. New /or18 0no%f. 0ant) !!an"el. :HFAED. 6n history. Edited by (. W. #ec1. ndiana%olis8 #obbs, 'errill) :CD@. EEE. :HFAEB. Foundations of the etaphysics of orals and, 5hat is enli"hten ent. >nd ) rev. ed) !he *ibrary of liberal arts. New /or18 'ac!illan) :CCJ. 0ojMve) Ale4andre. :CDC. Introduction to the readin" of He"el. Edited by R. N"enea". New /or18 #asic #oo1s. (aCa%ra) ?o!inic1. :CCA. 8epresentin" the Holocaust( history, theory, trau a. thaca8 Cornell *niversity Press. EEE. :CCF. History and e ory after ,uschwit9. thaca) N/8 Cornell *niversity Press. (atti!ore) +wen. :C@>. %anchuria( )radle of )onflict. New /or18 'ac!illan. (eibni6) 5ottfried Wilhel!. :HJC. !heodicy( essays on the "oodness of 4od, the freedo of an, and the ori"in of e#il. Edited by A. '. Farrer. (a Salle) ll.8 +%en Co"rt) :CFB. 'ac1ie) K. (. :CDB. Ca"ses and Conditions. , erican Philosophical :uarterly) >8 >ABE>DA. EEE. :CHA. !he ce ent of the uni#erse; a study of causation. +4ford8 Clarendon Press. 'andelba"!) 'a"rice. :CH:. History, an, ' reason; a study in nineteenth$ century thou"ht. #alti!ore8 Kohns $o%1ins Press. 'ann) 'ichael. :CFD. !he Sources of Social Power< , history of power fro the be"innin" to ,<&< 17=0. Iol. one. Ca!brid-e8 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. 'aritain) Kac7"es. :CBH. 6n the philosophy of history. New /or18 Scribner.

'ar4) 0arl. :FB>. !he ei"hteenth .ru aire of *ouis .onaparte. New /or18 'ondial) >JJB. 'ar4) 0arl) and Frederic1 En-els. :FAF. The Co!!"nist 'anifesto. n !he 8e#olutions of 18>8( Political 5ritin"s, #ol< I<) edited by ?. Fernbach) :CHA. 'ar4) 0arl) and Friedrich En-els. :FABEAC. !he 4er an ideolo"y. @d rev. ed. 'oscow8 Pro-ress P"blishers) :CHJ. 'cAda!) ?o"-) Sidney 5. Tarrow) and Charles Tilly. >JJ:. &yna ics of contention) )a brid"e studies in contentious politics. New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. 'in1) (o"is +. :CDD. The A"tono!y of $istorical *nderstandin-. History and !heory B 9:;8>AEAH. 'in1) (o"is +.) #rian Fay) E"-ene +. 5olob) and Richard T. Iann) eds. :CFH. Historical understandin". thaca8 Cornell *niversity Press. 'ontes7"ie") Charles de Secondat. :HAF. !he spirit of the laws. Edited by A. '. Cohler) #. C. 'iller and $. Stone) )a brid"e te+ts in the history of political thou"ht. Ca!brid-e G New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press) :CFC. Na-el) Ernest. :CD:. !he structure of science; proble s in the lo"ic of scientific e+planation. New /or18 $arco"rt #race U World. +'#rien) ?ennis. :CHB. He"el on reason and history( a conte porary interpretation. Chica-o8 *niversity of Chica-o Press. +'#rien) P. 0.) and C. 0eyder. :CHF. /cono ic 4rowth in .ritain and France, 1780?1@1>. (ondon8 Allen and *nwin. +"thwaite) Willia!. :CHB. Anderstandin" Social *ife( !he %ethod )alled 0erstehen. (ondon8 5eor-e Allen U *nwin. Pass!ore) K. A. :CDD. The +bjectivity of $istory. n Philosophical ,nalysis and History) edited by W. $. ?ray. New /or18 $ar%er U Row. Po!%a) (eon. :CCJ. Hu an nature and historical 1nowled"e( Hu e, He"el, and 0ico. Ca!brid-e SEn-landT G New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. Ran1e) (eo%old von. :FF:. !he theory and practice of history. Edited by W. $"!boldt) !he /uropean historio"raphy series. ndiana%olis) N8 #obbs,'errill) :CH@. Ricoe"r) Pa"l. >JJJ. %e ory, history, for"ettin". 0athleen #la!ey and ?avid Pella"er) trans. Chica-o8 *niversity of Chica-o Press) >JJA. Rorty) Richard. :CHC. Philosophy and the irror of nature. Princeton8 Princeton *niversity Press. Ro"ssea") Kean Kac7"es. :HD>a. 6n the social contract ; &iscourse on the ori"in of ine3uality ; &iscourse on political econo y. ndiana%olis8 $ac1ett P"b. Co) :CF@. Ro"ssea") Kean,Kac7"es. :HD>b. / ile, or, !reatise on education. A!herst) N./.8 Pro!ethe"s #oo1s) >JJ@. Rowe) Willia! T. forthco!in-. +wen (atti!ore) Asia) and Co!%arative $istory. 2ournal of ,sian Studies. R"st) Eric Charles. :CAH. !he )hristian understandin" of history. (ondon8 ("tterworth Press. Sabel) Charles F.) and Konathan Reitlin. :CCH. 5orlds of possibility( fle+ibility and ass production in western industriali9ation) Studies in odern capitalis B

/tudes sur le capitalis e oderne. Ca!brid-e SEn-landT G New /or18 'aison des sciences de l'ho!!e G Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. Sahlins) 'arshall ?avid. >JJA. ,polo"ies to !hucydides( understandin" history as culture and #ice #ersa. Chica-o8 *niversity of Chica-o Press. Scha!a) Si!on. :CC:. &ead certainties( unwarranted speculations. :st ed. New /or18 0no%f. Schleier!acher) Friedrich. :F@F. Her eneutics and criticis and other writin"s. Edited by A. #owie) )a brid"e te+ts in the history of philosophy. Ca!brid-e) *.0. G New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press) :CCF. Scriven) 'ichael. :CD>. E4%lanations) Predictions) and (aws. n %innesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science #ol< C) edited by $. Fei-l and 5. 'a4well. 'innea%olis8 *niversity of 'innesota Press. Sewell) Willia! $a!ilton. >JJB. *o"ics of history( social theory and social transfor ation) )hica"o studies in practices of eanin". Chica-o8 *niversity of Chica-o Press. Sherratt) /vonne. >JJD. )ontinental philosophy of social science( her eneutics, "enealo"y, critical theory. Ca!brid-eG New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. S!ith) Ada!. :HHD. ,n in3uiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. Edited by R. $. Ca!%bell and A. S. S1inner) 4las"ow edition of the wor1s and correspondence of ,da S ith. +4ford8 Clarendon Press) :CHD. S%en-ler) +swald) and Charles Francis At1inson. :C@A. !he decline of the west. New /or18 A.A. 0no%f. Taylor) Charles. :CHB. He"el. Ca!brid-eG New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. EEE. :CFB. nter%retation and the Sciences of 'an. n Philosophy and the Hu an Sciences( Philosophical Papers 2) edited by C. Taylor. Ca!brid-e8 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. Tho!%son) E. P. :CDD. !he a1in" of the /n"lish wor1in" class) 0inta"e boo1s, 0$C22. New /or18 Iinta-e #oo1s. Toynbee) Arnold Kose%h. :C@A. , study of history. (ondon8 +4ford *niversity Press. Iico) 5ia!battista. :H>B. !he first new science. Edited by (. Po!%a) )a brid"e te+ts in the history of political thou"ht. Ca!brid-e) *.0. G New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press) >JJ>. Waldron) Arth"r. :CCJ. !he 4reat 5all of )hina( fro history to yth) )a brid"e studies in )hinese history, literature, and institutions. Ca!brid-e SEn-landT G New /or18 Ca!brid-e *niversity Press. White) $ayden I. :CH@. %etahistory( the historical i a"ination in nineteenth$ century /urope. #alti!ore8 Kohns $o%1ins *niversity Press. Wittfo-el) 0arl. :C@B. The Sta-es of ?evelo%!ent in Chinese Econo!ic and Social $istory. n !he ,siatic %ode of Production( Science and Politics) edited by A. '. #ailey and K. R. (lobera. (ondon8 Ro"tled-e and 0e-an Pa"l. ::@EAJ) :CF:.

,ther -nternet 'esources

$istory and Theory Philoso%hy of $istory Annotated #iblio-ra%h) !aintained by Andrew Reynolds 9Ca%e #reton *niversity;

'elated .ntries
#erlin) saiah V ?ilthey) Wilhel! V $e-el) 5eor- Wilhel! Friedrich V $e!%el) Carl V $erder) Kohann 5ottfried von V her!ene"tics V historio-ra%hy V Ricoe"r) Pa"l V Iico) 5ia!battista
Co%yri-ht & >JJH by

?aniel (ittle WdelittleDu d<u ich<eduX