History Depends Upon PhilosophyOctober 7, 2018
Positivism and scepticism both break down under examination. We cannot, it appears, do without either philosophical or historical thought.
We seem therefore to have here a distinction within the region of the intellect parallel to that of intellect and will in the mind as a whole ; and consequently we must investigate the relation between philosophy and history with a view to determining as accurately as possible the nature of the distinction.
History depends upon Philosophy
In the first place, it appears that history cannot exist without philosophy. There is no such thing as an entirely nonphilosophical history. History cannot proceed without philosophical presuppositions of a highly complex character.
It deals with evidence, and therefore makes epistemological assumptions as to the value of evidence ; it describes the actions of historical characters in terms whose meaning is fixed by ethical thought ; it has continually to determine what events are possible and what are not possible, and this can only be done in virtue of some general metaphysical conclusions.
It is not, of course, implied that no historian is qualified for his work without a systematic education in academic philosophy. Still less is it to be supposed that a philosopher dabbling in history is better able than the historians to lay down the law as to the value of such and such a historical argument.
It must be remembered that by philosophy we mean, here as elsewhere, thought concerned with metaphysical problems : not acquaintance with technical literature and the vocabulary of the specialist.