Philosophy of History: Thoughts on a Possible Revival

Defined as a theory of historical process, the philosophy of history is today largely dismissed as speculative. The author seeks to determine whether it can be reclaimed into a reasonably analytical theoretical structure. The association with historicism - the doctrine of historical laws - offers stumbling blocks: no model of historical determinism; impossibility of historical prediction; assertion of a redemptive end of history, superior to all past epochs; and abandonment of the meaning of responsible human action. Historicism, however, does not have to be deterministic. It can relate the meaning of the past to the vital concerns of the present, which is the essence of a philosophy of history. Such a substantive philosophy of history, soberly assessing the direction and results of historical evolution, can hardly go on being disparaged as a subject unfit for rational analysis.