Philosophy of history

The philosophy of history seeks to discover

  • the method by which we derive a record of the past;
  • the assumptions by which we accept this record as "true";
  • the shortcomings of current historicist orthodoxy; and
  • the hope of a new paradigm in historical inquiry.

As such, philosophy of history does not look at the conclusions of history, but the methods and assumptions by which those conclusions were reached -- a better method can lead to better conclusions.

In short, observation will show that current historical methods tend to be regional, subjective and selective. A better method would tend, where possible, towards a more universal, objective and exhaustive approach.

Unfortunately, much of the basic history learned at the elementary level is aligned with regional biases, whether unabashed or inadvertent. In some instances, history is the pure product of propaganda. Either way, history as a discipline has been compromised by adherence to old ways of thinking about its mechanics and purposes.

Further, elementary history is devoid of theory; it is almost purely content-oriented. We are taught "who said what when, who did what when," but not to explore how we verify an event that we did not witness.

For example, how do we know what a given individual said at a specific time if we weren't around to hear him/her? Chances are, we are reading something we believe to have been actually written at the time of the inquiry. But then, how do we know the person who wrote it was really in a position to make an authoritative statement? While this may be easy to do in some circumstances, there are many instances where "facts" can be neither authenticated nor discredited.

Philosophy of history will explore the classic branches of philosophy -- metaphysics, epistemology and axiology -- and their implications on the assumptions and methods of historical inquiry. Another topic about philosophy in history: let's have a look on colonialism in philosophy.




copyright 2004 FactsAbout.com