Talk:Philosophy of history

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Can this reference which I find useful be added?

Meyerhoff, H. (Ed.). (1959). The philosophy of history in our time: An anthology selected. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books.


--[[User:Redsstone.d.pappas 12:03, 2 May 2008 (MST)

Concerns with the last section "Is History Always Written..."[edit]

The last section here, although subheaded "History as Propaganda: Is history always written by the victors?", seems to be only barely think there is any question left---what follows is basically a series of arguments that yes, history is indeed always written by the victors. I am not advocating the view that a nod must be given to the opposing side in a very one-sided argument, but I can hardly think that this argument is so one sided that no other views need be entertained. What's more, can such a flattering quote about Marx's historiagraphy really stand without any counterpoint? Is there no reputable mind in this field who disagrees? --Corbmobile 21:45, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Well I dont know a whole lot about history, but I do know that the Thucydides, the most widely cited primary source on the Peloponnesian War, was one of the commanders of the Athenian Empire's forces at the Battle of Amphipolis. Given that he helped lose a key battle for the side which lost the war, I would not classify him as a victor. Of course historians would claim that History is written by the victors. After all, it is always written by historians, and they clearly affected by a pro-historian bias, which leads them to conclude that they are the victors. ( (talk) 08:08, 22 May 2009 (UTC))

it doesn't seem to belong in an encyclopedia, since no matter which side you come out on, it's, at best, a well-supported opinion-- in other words "original research." (besides which, it currently reads like someone's academic paper) (talk) 16:08, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

Serious Problems wih this article[edit]

I want the Wikipedia community to notice the problems with this article — clearly, an enormous amount of effort has been expended in making this article as obtuse, confusing, and unclear as possible. In short, it's a mess.

Obviously there are some people who know a great deal about the subject matter. But they are doing the article a disservice when they write corkers like, Theodicy claimed that history had a progressive direction leading to an eschatological end, given by a superior power. However, this transcendent teleological sense can be thought as immanent to human history itself.

Huh? What is the sound of one hand scratching two heads....

As I wrote below when discussing the changes I made to the intro to the article, if a bright twelve year old can't understand something, it needs to be rewritten. I have neither the time nor, more importantly, the expertise to rewrite this—but clearly others do, since they've made a fine mess of this article and rendered it incomprehensible. I'm not saying this to start some edit war or some such nonsense—I'm stating this to motivate knowledgeable people to rewrite the meat of this article, which is, I repeat, a mess.

Surely, clarity and conciseness are desireable qualities in a serious encyclopedia.

--TallulahBelle 03:45, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't think words like "eschatological" are so problematic, especially when linked. I agree that this article needs serious revision, however. Even at the top level the sections are terribly confused, neither "issue" based, nor chronological, or any other discernable way.

--Quinn d (talk) 23:47, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

I've never figured out what "problematic" means if not "bad, but I'm a grad sutdent," but like "eschatological" such words don't belong in an article that should serve as an intelligent introduction to its subject. (talk) 16:13, 22 December 2011 (UTC)


This article doesn't appear to be NPOV to me. I have a degree in history and I admire the authors attempt to define the debate about the philosophy of history. While writing a book I stopped to look up "the great man theory" and ended up reading this article as well. This is a good article - and it is a very honest presentation about the subject and perhaps that is what makes it NPOV. – John Beasley

This article doesn't appear to be NPOV.

I think Dgaubin's screed is more appropriate for one of the Wikipedia meta-pages. She/he is attempting to start a dialogue here about where the future of the history articles.
Unfortunately, one must learn the alphabet before one can read, & then first read before one analyses. The history content articles on Wiki, I believe, are still too few: is there enough information in any one area that would satisfy any school textbook committee? Having worked over the last three months on the articles relating to Imperial Roman History, I can verify that area is in need of more work & substance. -- llywrch 19:27 Feb 1, 2003 (UTC)

I think you've hit the nail on the head as to why this article is necessary. You mention the history of the Roman Empire" and again that focuses on content, the Roman Empire, rather than on the veracity of the method by which whatever conclusions are drawn about the Roman Empire. Can you see the difference? I am suggesting a shift away from the conclusions of historical inquiry towards a focus on the method of inquiry. There is such a thing as "scientific method" which binds scientists in a fraternity based on a method that should result in better conclusions. Historians however are driven more by conclusions without a fraternal conception of the method by which those conclusions are derived. This is what I'm driving at - none of us were around to SEE what happened in the Roman Empire, so whatever we think we "know" about it is based on assumptions, and these assumptions could stand to be tested. dgaubin 27 Feb 2007

Thanks for the Editing Talk! dgaubin 13:33 Feb 2, 2003 (UTC)

Quite obviously a house built on sand cannot stand. If the history articles do not conform to acceptable standards they must be rewritten. It will be found that many history articles are deficfient because they do not conform to philosophically defensible methodologies. It is better to make this article authoritative so that these philosophical battles do not have to be won over and over again in every history article. Sooner or later this article will be authoritative so every history article will need to be examined for possibile refactoring. This same issue is found throughout the wikipedia. For an example from the sciences examine talk:scientific method. User:Two16


Are there any suggestions on where this article needs to be improved to be NPoV? I frankly don't see it as being so...unencylopedic I could agree with in places, but it never seems to be PoV-biased.

So is another Wikipedian currently working on making this NPoV, or are there at least some guidelines on what needs work? CelestialRender 01:03, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

NPOV? That's the least of this article's problems.....[edit]

The problem isn't NPOV (although there is that, too). The problem is, this article is needlessly confusing and overloaded. Citing a truckload of historical names in the opening paragraph is not the same thing as explaining something logically.People, be grown-ups: This article has to be easily comprehensible by a nonspecialist — that is the point of Wikipedia.

Now I rewrote the intro — there was lots of good stuff there, it just needed a trim and a shave. I can see that the rest of the article is similarly rich in material and writing talent, but lacking somewhat in the discipline department.

I'll revisit the article when I have time — I truly hope you all can organize yourselves to create a clear, well-thought out article that will be a service to the community.

My thanks to all, especially to those who take my comments in the spirit they are intended. Cheers, --MILH 22:33, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

I added theodicy in the intro, I suppose Leibniz's "best of all possible worlds" and Voltaire's Candide are well-known enough, and theodicy itself to be an important enough example of philosophy of history, to be dealt with in the intro. Correct me if I'm wrong... Lapaz 16:00, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, but I had to make some cuts to your material, as well as some of the other material in the intro. All of the references you made are to texts that only confuse the issue for the non-specialist or the disinterested passer-by — which is exactly the audience for any solid and clear introduction. If you feel strongly about including these issues you raised, which I suspect you do, I would assume that the best thing would be to write a section of the article. However, the introduction ought to be free of any specific philosopher or reference, in order not to scare-off a non-specialist.
Revisiting my previous copy edit, you will note I cut some of my own material, all for the sake of clarity. Also, I took the time to read up on the subject and adjust the intro accordingly. Again, my aim is clarity and humility above all. I think it is a serious mistake to load an intro with snowy references that only help to scare-off people.
You clearly know a great deal of material on this subject — certainly more than me, a non-specialist. But do keep in mind what my aims are. Note too that I have not touched the bulk of the article, as I am not knowledgeable enough to make informed judgements of that material. But insofar as the intro is concerned, precisely because I am a non-specialist, it is my goal to make an intro that is clear, conscise and comfortable for the non-specialist.
Cheers, --MILH 18:44, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Possibility of history[edit]

I miss a brief definition and discussion of what constitutes 'history', rather than which qualities it has (or proper pointers to articles devoted to such discussions). One could argue that the concept of time, which is inherent in the concept of history, is ultimately a product of the human mind. Consequently, the concept of history is as well. Which features makes something history and why? This is related to the postmodern and new historicist view that historical questions depends upon the time and context in which they are raised; history is, at least partially, a product of the historian. --AndersFeder 01:14, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

History and Education[edit]

The history and education section is clearly NPOV in my view, it is a call to redo the way we teach history, and true or not a call is not what this page is about. There is a lot to put here in terms of how to teach and what to teach and whose opinions to teach from and what region teaching and there are many prominent education theorists who have weighed in on this, but as is this section is unacceptable. 01:58, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Does history have a teleological sense[edit]

The writing on this section of the page is debatable. I find following definition of "teleological argument" on wiki:

  A teleological argument (or a design argument) is an argument for the existence of God or a creator      based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design and/or direction in nature. 

Marx hardly fits into this definition and yet the article under question makes the statement: Hegel and Marx are both teleological in their histories
As if the statement is not sufficiently clear, the statement qualifies "teleology" by making an assertion that : they both believe that history is progressive and directed toward a particular end.
Marx's dialectical materialism is exactly opposite to Hegel's idealism and categorically denies existence of any God or superpower controlling things. And the other very important thing is that dialectical materialism does not say that history is directed towards an end. Its a grave mistake and should be corrected.
Similarly this statement is incorrect. :
"For Marx, the continual battle between opposing forces within modes of production led inevitably to revolutionary changes in economics and eventually communism, which would be the eventual recreation of an early, literally pre-historic state." [italics added for emphasis]
The statement appears ridicules to anyone even slightly familiar with dialectical materialism.

I request the author of this section to review his writing at the earliest. --Bmanisk 11:52, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

You don't have to posit the existence of a god in order to hold teleological views (besides it's not "a teleological argument", but "THE teleological argument" known from Thomas Aquinas). Maybe you need to look up the word "teleological" in a dictionary:). In it's cleanest sense it just means "goal-determined". So when speaking of Marx' "teleological" views it just means "progressing towards a goal" - i.e. communism, and speaking of Hegel it means "progressing towards supreme enlightenment". History has a goal for these guys. It is, well, teleological.

About your comment on marxism... that history is NOT directed towards an end... well, interpretations on marxism differ greatly, but if there's anything that is consistently immobile it is the view that marxism and dialectical materialism are directed towards an end - why would it called "dialectical" if not?!?

Whether or not Hegel and Marx are consistent with each other is beside the point: Marx and the purist-Marxist interpretation of historical development are teleological in the extreme. Correct the flawed definition of "teleological" perhaps, but call Marxism open ended...? -AD, Ottawa, Feb 2007


the references need to be formatted correctly. i don't know how to do this or i would do it my self.

-minamato 23:08, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

The necessity of a clearinghouse or forum for dialogue[edit]

Thanks much to all for your thoughts and contributions. I don't know anyone who knows everything, least of all me. I do know, however, that for all Wikipedia's challenges, one of its strengths is its collaborative scope. I might not have had an opportunity otherwise to engage so many people on this topic and focus collective thought and effort to illucidate and develop the idea itself.

I have discussed this issue with professional historians, archaeologists, philosophers and other academics from several national backgrounds and specialties, and the problems/challenges associated with the current assumptions of "history" as a discipline are not well-addressed in the field (as conceded by these pros in the thick of it all). Some clearinghouse of the issues needs to exist, and perhaps Wikipedia can be the platform for such a forum of dialogue and the source of newer appreciations for the subject.

--dgaubin, 27 Feb 2007

Historical method vs philosophy of history[edit]

As the originator of this article, I'm quite excited by the information that is coming in. The article historical method seems closer to what I had in mind, except that, for all intents and purposes, one's method will basically be a manifestation, a product, of one's philosophy. As such, this article still should stand on its own, although the concepts will be related. dgaubin 15:23, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

layman language lost[edit]

I might also add that the organization of this article doesn't resemble at all what I had in my notes. I absolutely support the collaborative effort (else I would not be a contributor to Wikipedia, whether starting new articles or editing existing ones), but I would hope that a) the original aim of the article somehow survive and b) that the language, where and as much as possible, remains somewhat readable! It really is an exciting subjct which, in my little mind, ought to be a separate and distinct discipline - there would be no chance of this, however, unless the subject can be definable or at least coalesce to a sharp set of definitions.


The rigor of philosophical method includes struggles with semantics since language is at the basis of inquiry. I will concede that historical method, historiography and philsophy of history may indeed be shades and shadows of the same thing (!) ... as others have mentioned, there is merit in zeroing in on philosophical inquiry of the nature of history. I guess it will take some time before concrete, clearly differentiated views represent the three. Sometimes, the very naming of "a thing" makes the thing real on a wider scale (by way of comparison, the "minivan" for all practical purposes had various incarnations before the Chrysler offering of 1984. Nissan Multi was a precursor, as well as the Volkswagen Bus. But, cooking up the name "minivan" created "the thing" in concept, in the mind of the masses). As such, "[[philosophy of history" may not necessarily break totally new ground as much as bind together a number of other ideas into a clearer conceptualization.

Again, in speaking with professional historians, the concepts I mentioned were not dealt with all through their formal post-graduate studies - that's sufficient evidence (to me) that this is a subject worth developing cohesively, if at all possible.

Which isn't to say the matters haven't been discussed at length in the classics. But, of course, their language is "younger" than ours, and new insights into the nature of things, new awarenesses about the human condition, and other such advances in the human experience require that we continue to develop our understandings. dgaubin 15:23, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

New revisions[edit]

I've spent some time going through some of the new material since I first created this article, just to try and take some advice from above to use more common language and be a little more understandable. Hopefully, these new contributions will provide some clarity as to the gist of the idea.

Primary/Secondary Problems in History[edit]

Tasmaniacs apparently removed these sections suggesting they'd better fit into historiography article. I don't disagree that there is some relevance to that subject, but it does not necessarily mean the topic is less relevant in this one.

By comparison, issues in psychology, social psychology and sociology meld and blend at certain points yet each discipline retains distinct issues. As such, historical method, historiography and philosophy of history will all have concepts shared yet should also have unique perspectives.

The matter of the primary problem - that human perspective creates subjectivity which changes the interpretation of events - is a challenge to the assumption that what someone says or writes about an event in history must needs be accepted as truth. This speaks directly to the metaphysical and epistemological reality of history as a thing, whether we can know the truth about "what happened." These are philosophical rigours that are best discussed within this subject, and in fact historography does not prioritize these discussions.

The matter of the secondary problem - that if an event was not witnessed, we must depend on both whatever available evidence exists as well as our ability to interpret any such evidence - is also specifically processing the epistemological veracity of whether we have interpreted correctly the evidence, if any exists. This, again, is an issue of philosophical rigour, and belongs in this article. dgaubin 15:21, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Original Research (OR)[edit]

Hmmm...perhaps my contributions and revisions could or even should be categorized as "Original Research" (WP:A)? dgaubin 18:14, 1 March 2007 (UTC)


I reverted the introduction to what it had been previously.

An introduction should strive for brevity and conciseness—it should not be trying to cover the entire subject in the first paragraph. A helpful rule of thumb is, if a bright twelve year old cannot follow an introductory section, then that section needs to be rewritten. --TallulahBelle 20:00, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

The End of History by Francis Fukuyama[edit]

I've removed some text about "The End of History" by Francis Fukuyama that states that the book has less impact because of events in the 1990s that point to ideological battles still being played out, particularly Islamism vs Liberal Democracy. Fukuyama acknowledges the force of other ideologies, and never tries to make the case that there won't be further ideological battles like the major one being played out today. Instead, he argues that Liberal Democracy is the only ideology with no "internal contradictions" that will cause it to collapse in on itself, and is therefore eventually inevitable. While you may disagree with his conclusions about Liberal democracy being inevitable (I'm not sure where I stand on that), I don't think that it is accurate to say that the books impact is weakened because of the events of the 1990s and 2000s. sinblox (talk) 03:40, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

I'd re-read the book. It has lost a lot of ground of late - for a couple of reasons.
I think you're overlooking the central argument and problem - he argues that liberal democracy is more or less the final evolution of politics (which largely emanates from the directionality in Hegel) and was victorious (hard not to think that after the fall of communism, I guess). It's a pretty teleological book (and the whole thing is vulnerable to the historicist fallacy). He literally believed in the end of ideology. He's absolutely wrong on that one, the central point of his book.
Turns out there are new political ideologies e.g. Saud sponsored state Salafism/Wahhabism. He's even personally backed away from that thesis lately, what with his writing of polemics against transhumanism and whatnot. The Islam vs. Liberal Democracy "Clash of Civilizations" is mostly Huntington, not Fukuyama. Islamic terrorism (who are mostly Salafists/Wahhabi) actually mostly disproves his central argument because it so outrageously negates the concept of the "End of History". Turns out we have some competition. And don't back peddle it into claiming - that's totalitarianism. He doesn't.
He doesn't see Islamic extremism as a long-term threat - and he claims it's different than Communism or Fascism and sees the problem of Islamic states as regional political or economic instability and dismisses them. Slight problem there. While, unfortunately this view is still influential in certain miliary and defense sectors, it's wrong and has led to problems in our Mideast dealings as we attempt to bribe everyone who we see as local despots in unstable regions. Ralph Peters (military reporter) writes about this a lot if you want to read more.
In short, I like the book - it's entertaining. I wish it were true because it's an elegant theory and I have a weakness for those. Turns out it's completely wrong, though. People really are trying to kill us and it's not because they're hungry. Guinness4life (talk) 16:47, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Reliable sources for the term dharmic religions?[edit]

Where are the reliable sources that use the term dharmic religions in the context of this article? Dharmic religions is a now deleted obscure neologism and should not be used throughout Wikipedia. a good alternative is Indian religions. The number of google scholar results for "Indian religions"+"Indian religion" is (45.600 + 84.200) while it is only (492+475) for "dharmic religions" +"dharmic religion". See Wikipedia:Deletion_review/Log/2007_September_8. Andries 19:55, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Source, anyone?[edit]

As Marx would famously explain afterwards, concretely that meant that if Louis XVI's monarchic rule in France was seen as the thesis, the French Revolution could be seen as its antithesis. However, both were sublated in Napoleon, who reconciled the revolution with the Ancien Régime.

I'd be really thankful if someone provided me the name of the work where Marx expressed this perspective on Napoleon. (talk) 03:16, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

I think it's from the Cohen book on Marx's Theory of History or maybe Brenner. It sounds vaguely familiar. I doubt Marx wrote it, except maybe in Contributions to Political Economy or letters. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Guinness4life (talkcontribs) 16:13, 28 January 2010 (UTC)


"Historiosophy" is a term very rarely used in the philosophy of history. It usually appears in religion books and applies to certain Jewish mystical practices. The term is rarely applied to the general field of philosophy of history. See Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy] Rjensen (talk) 11:16, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

Spengler, Kojeve, Vico?[edit]

Seriously, who wrote this? How can you mention Spengler and Vico precisely ONCE - two of the most important figures in philo of history. Also, how can you mention Foucault but not Kojeve (how can you even understand Fukuyama without a basic background of the man so influential on the "End of History" Thesis) or Kuhn (or Bachelard - that's where most of F came from, anyway)? It's psychotic. Extremely slanted page and gives the neophyte a wrong-headed view of philo history. Time for NPOV tags. Guinness4life (talk) 16:01, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

In fact, this neophyte couldn't make heads-or-tails of the whole thing. The article clearly has an agenda, or perhaps some competing agendas, but I for one have not been corrupted since it all went over my head completely. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:19, 22 December 2011 (UTC)