Marc Bloch’s philosophy of history

Marc Bloch wrote The Historian's Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It. after the defeat of France in 1940. The title suggests that the book is a "how-to" manual for doing historical research, authored by one of the great historians of the twentieth century. But …

Kojève on freedom

An earlier post highlighted Alexandre Kojève's presentation of Hegel's rich conception of labor, freedom, and human self-creation. This account is contained in Kojève's analysis of the Master-Slave section of Hegel's Phenomenology in Kojève's Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the "Phenomenology of Spirit"; link. Here are the key passages from Hegel's Phenomenology on which Kojève's …

Historicizing social action

It is self evident that people are influenced by the historical circumstances in which they are raised and live. People are historicized as actors. The hard question is, how deep does that influence go? When we consider the mental features that are invoked within the process of interpreting and acting within the world, there is …

Global history?

A question that arises in historiography and the philosophy of history is that of the status of the notion of "global history."  I've addressed the topic several times here in a limited way -- often by making the case for Eurasian history rather than French history or Japanese history. There the view is that expanding …

What is the philosophy of history?

  When philosophers have written about “history”, they have often had different and even incompatible goals in mind. One tradition of philosophers, generally pre-twentieth century and generally from continental Europe, have wanted to contribute to answers to large questions about the nature of history as it presented itself over time as a compound of individuals, …

New contributions to the philosophy of history

I am pleased at the publication this month of a book I've been working on for quite a long time, New Contributions to the Philosophy of History (Methodos Series).  (Here is a link to a digital version of the book on the Springer website.)  The title is self-explanatory. The book is intended to jump-start a new …

Agrarian history — the Weber edition

One of Max Weber's early areas of research was what might be called "macro agrarian history". This was a field of research that Weber himself largely invented. He undertook to document and explain the large patterns of economic development in the ancient world, including especially the social systems surrounding farming and animal husbandry. Weber's cases …

Revisiting Popper

Karl Popper's most commonly cited contribution to philosophy and the philosophy of science is his theory of falsifiability (The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge). (Stephen Thornton has a very nice essay on Popper's philosophy in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.) In its essence, this theory is an alternative …

A cognitivist philosophy of history

Many of the posts here have raised issues about the philosophy of history. Here is a bit of a synthesis of many of those prior observations. Fundamentally, we have unfolded a conception of historical explanation that derives from the central idea of situated human action; the idea, as Marx put the point in 1850, that …

History of the present

What is involved in writing a history of the present? It's not quite the oxymoron it may appear to be. It is often enough that we find ourselves in the middle of complicated, confusing, and interwoven events locally, regionally, or globally -- events that require much the same sort of conceptual and integrative work that …

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