Chapter

From <i>Philosophy</i> to <i>Theory</i>

Kerwin Lee Klein

in From History to Theory

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268814
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948297 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520268814.003.0003
From Philosophy to Theory

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This chapter outlines the emergence of the “philosophy of history” as both a research specialty and a term of art in cold war North America. It explains that before the Second World War, essentially no respectable academic in Canada, Great Britain, or the United States felt they could be identified as a philosopher of history. It argues that philosophy of history remained popularly identified with old-fangled universal history, and new conceptions of science, especially those developed in analytical philosophy, posing special challenges, as philosophers came to suspect that history could never attain the logical precision of a true science. It details that by the mid-1960s, history and theory, a more nearly “scientific” phrase threatened to displace philosophy of history, just as the failure of historical discourse to conform to idealized conceptions of scientific method opened the possibility that history might be redefined as an aesthetic practice.

Keywords: philosophy of history; 1960s; North America; Second World War; Canada; Great Britain; history and theory

Chapter.  8694 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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