End of history

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For other uses, see End of history (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with End of the world (disambiguation).

The end of history is a political and philosophical concept that supposes that a particular political, economic, or social system may develop that would constitute the end-point of humanity's sociocultural evolution and the final form of human government. A variety of authors have argued that a particular system is the "end of history" including Thomas More in Utopia, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, Vladimir Solovyov and Francis Fukuyama in the 1992 book, The End of History and the Last Man. [1]

"The idea of an 'end of history' does not imply that nothing more will ever happen. Rather, what the postmodern sense of an end of history tends to signify is, in the words of contemporary historian Keith Jenkins, the idea that 'the peculiar ways in which the past was historicized (was conceptualized in modernist, linear and essentially metanarrative forms) has now come to an end of its productive life; the all-encompassing “experiment of modernity” . . . is passing away into our postmodern condition'.[2]

The concept of an end of history differs from ideas of an end of the world as expressed in various religions, which may forecast a complete destruction of the Earth or of life on Earth, and the end of the human race as we know it. The end of history instead proposes a state in which human life continues indefinitely into the future without any further major changes in society, system of governance, or economics.


The phrase, 'the end of history' was first used by French philosopher and mathematician Antoine Augustin Cournot in 1861 "to refer to the end of the historical dynamic with the perfection of civil society".[3] "Arnold Gehlen adopted it in 1952 and it has been taken up more recently by Heidegger and Vattimo".[3]

The formal development of an idea of an "end of history" is most closely associated with Hegel, although Hegel discussed the idea in ambiguous terms, making it unclear whether he thought such a thing was a certainty or a mere possibility.[4]


  1. ^ Fukuyama himself began to revise his ideas and abandon some of the neoconservative components of his thesis since the Iraq War. Interview with Ex-Neocon Francis Fukuyama: "A Model Democracy Is not Emerging in Iraq" Spiegel Online, March 22, 2006
  2. ^ Simon Malpas, The Postmodern (2004), p. 89, quoting Keith Jenkins (2001), p. 57.
  3. ^ a b Mike Featherstone, "Global and Local Cultures", in John Bird, Barry Curtis, Tim Putnam, Mapping the Futures: Local Cultures, Global Change (1993), p. 184, n. 3.
  4. ^ William Desmond, "Hegel, Art, and History", in Robert L. Perkins, ed., History and System: Hegel's Philosophy of History (1984), p. 173.

See also[edit]