Intellectual history, understood as the study of thinkers, ideas and thinking patterns in history, is probably the most interdisciplinary form of history writing that there is. An intellectual historian must be able to comprehend and study a great number of disciplines and contexts, even if one is not necessarily committed to the existence of unit ideas that traverse from context to context. However, because of its broad scope, intellectual history can sometimes seem shapeless and borderless.
Philosophers of history write many interesting books. This could be said to be the message of this issue. For a while, we have accumulated reviews and the time has come to publish more of them together. Since 2017, Journal of the Philosophy of History has accepted texts about books under two categories: review article and book review. A text of the latter kind is typically relatively short, four or five pages long, and focuses on the content of the book under review in order to introduce it to the readers.
Oulu University’s Centre for the Philosophical Study of History has posted, as the first of its Scholars in Conversation series, an interview with Prof. Herman Paul (University of Leiden) by Prof. Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKHF18rPemQ.
One of Leopold von Ranke’s driving forces of his theoretical reflections was to turn historiography into a scientific discipline. This meant expunging the moral dimension from historiographical judgment. In order to arrive at a disinterested view of what really has happened, one should extinguish oneself and one’s political and moral aspirations.
The recently-founded Centre for Philosophical Studies of History, a hub for junior and senior researchers interested in conceptual and philosophical studies of history and historiography, at the University of Oulu came to my attention on the occasion of the international conference The Role of Philosophy of History, 5-7 October, 2017.
Sometimes philosophy of history is called a ‘field,’ comparable to other ‘fields’ like history, sociology or biology. At other times it is linked with theory of history, and these two are understood to form a ‘field’ together. But is it justified to talk about a field in either of these cases?
Is all this a miracle?
I was stuck, and Hayden White helped me to get started. I opened Metahistory at random, and found on page 151 the historian Jules Michelet’s romantic conception of the miraculous French Revolution. The Ancien Regime had finally succumbed to the ‘natural’ force of men and women uniting in the new nation of republican France, ‘transfigured in the glory of July’.
Last week the third installment of the conferences organized by the International Network for the Theory of History (INTH) took place in Stockholm, Sweden, after two previous successful rounds in Ghent, Belgium, in 2013 and Ouro Preto, Brasil, in 2016. The conference saw 150-200 participants, mostly from Europe and the Americas, but also from the Middle East, China, Japan, and Australia.