What is Philosophy of History and What Does It Mean?July 1, 2021
The word “philosophy of history” is a word that has two meanings, according to the double meaning of the word “history”. The word “history” is used to name both the community of human and social events in the past, that is, the lived past; and with this word, it is meant the science of history, the science of which this lived past is the subject.
Philosophy of history is the study of the general laws that govern the change and evolution of people and societies, and to put forward relative ideas on the meaning of change and the future of humanity. Instead of determining and evaluating historical events in the chain of time and space, he makes an interpretation of history in terms of philosophical problems and tries to reveal what laws and habits are in the course of events.
Philosophy of history primarily seeks the general laws that cause the development of civilization and history; investigates the causes of events rather than what happened in history. It tries to determine the cultural codes of human beings and civilizations. From this perspective; metaphysics is divided into three as individualistic and dialectical philosophy of history.
According to the metaphysical philosophy of description, human history is governed by the will of God; God willed and it became history; The individualist philosophy of history, on the other hand, acts on the view that great individuals, thinkers, and effective leaders manage history. Dialectical philosophy of history, on the other hand, adopts the view that societies determined by relations of production make history. Historical facts are related to expressing the truth. The phenomenon of reality is shaped by the structure of time, space and events.
Some philosophers have made this distinction with two Latin idioms on this subject from time immemorial. resgestae to history as past human-social events; they called the discipline or science dealing with these events historia rerum gestarum. But most of the philosophers used the word historia (history) both to name the lived past and to mention the discipline that takes this past as its subject. Today, we continue to use the word in this double meaning.
Parallel to the double meaning of the word “history”, two things are understood from the “philosophy of history”:
Philosophy of history as a philosophy of the lived past
philosophy of the science of history
In the first sense, we can look at the philosophy of history as a philosophical pursuit, starting from questioning what the events of the past mean and gradually turning to the entire lived past of humanity, namely “world history”. This effort gradually goes to gaining an over-view on the entire history of humanity, and even to establish a system of philosophy that wants to be comprehensive about the entire history of humanity, and the entire history of humanity is tried to be explained in the light of such philosophical systems.
In the second sense, the philosophy of history is a criticism of historical knowledge that questions the effectiveness of the science of history and the historian in acquiring knowledge, criticizes the principles and methods on which the science of history is based, and increasingly analyzes the quality and even the possibility of “historical knowledge”.
In the second sense, the philosophy of history, that is, the philosophy of the science of history, has emerged as a philosophy discipline only after the second half of the 19th century, although it has roots going back thousands of years. The science of history, which made a great progress with the work of the German History School, which was especially loyal to Herder, was subjected to a major criticism towards the middle of the century, especially during the efforts of W. Dilthey to ground the “spiritual sciences”, and Dilthey brought the spiritual sciences to a large extent. He wanted to ground it by being influenced by the example of history science embodied in the historiography of the German History School. Since then, a philosophy of history can be said to have been established and developed as a philosophy of the science of history.
In fact, in the first sense, that is, the philosophy of the past as the field of philosophies of history that claims to (often) fully understand and explain the past, and the philosophy of the science of history, have two clearly different orientations. Firstly, while it is a philosophy that philosophers often do under “generalist” views, in the face of all the past; The second is a philosophy of science and a methodology critique that seeks to question the knowledge effectiveness of the historian. But these two kinds of philosophies of history are nonetheless very closely intertwined. For one thing, it is clear that both orientations require the assumption that historical events are ‘knowable’. Without such an assumption the reasons for the existence of both kinds of activity vanish.
But the philosophy of history of the first kind, that is, the philosophy of the past, is often full of attempts to explain the past, the past of all humanity as a whole, by acting on another assumption as well as that there is a general meaning in history that we can call the “philosophical meaning of history”.
The philosophy of history of the second kind, that is, the philosophy of the science of history, is in a certain skepticism against the philosophy of history of the first kind, especially today. For this second philosophy of history as a philosophy of science, the first and traditional