The Modern Concept of History

Analyzes the modern concept of history and contrasts it with that found in Greek antiquity. Man's concept of history can only be viewed in relation to his concept of nature. In antiquity the distinction between the mortality of men and the immortality of nature was the tacit assumption of historiography. In modern times that assumption has been replaced by the notion of process. Against the despair of ever experiencing and knowing adequately all that is given to man and not made by him, modern man began to try out his capacities for action. In so doing, he could not but become aware that wherever he acts he starts processes. The author concludes with the warning that the capacity to act is the most dangerous of all human abilities, because by beginning to "act into nature" we have manifestly begun to carry our own unpredictability into that realm which we used to think of as ruled by inexorable laws.