Is historiography a science? When people ask this question, they are usually either intellectually curious about how different disciplines are related to each other or about the epistemological trustworthiness and intellectual respectfulness of historiography. It is not clear, however, how these questions should be answered. We could give some intuitive answers or ask scientists and historians how they see the issue. However, this strategy would not work for three reasons.
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.
When I was around 6 years old, I fell in love with history1. There were momentous events taking place all around me at that time but they did not spawn my interest in history. I have no memory to speak of about the implosion of the Soviet Union and the end of the Eastern Bloc or the Yugoslav Wars that were raging only 50 kilometers south of my Austrian home.
Preface to the Spanish edition: Postnarrativism four years after
This is the preface of the Spanish edition of Postnarrativist Philosophy of History (Filosofía posnarrativista de la historiografía, 2019), which has only been availabe in Spanish before.
The History of Experience: a history like anything else?1 Last week, I attended the conference “History of Experience: Methodologies and Practices” at the University of Tampere, Finland, organized by the “Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences” (HEX), based at Tampere University. At the conference, I gave a presentation with the same title as this post has (see here for the slides).
Big Problems Come in Bundles, Huge Nonsense Comes in Heaps, and Great Transformations Need Sound Philosophical Foundations
A Note on Mario A. Bunge (1919-2020) and the Future of Philosophy of History and Social Science
If it is true that the good die almost unnoticed, what about the best? On Febru-ary 24th 2020, Mario A. Bunge passed away. For vulgar inductivists this is a surprising event, given that Bunge was born on 21st September, 1919. Those who know (some of) his work consider this to be a tremendous loss to intellectual culture in general and philosophy specifically. Most readers, to the contrary, will probably ask: Mario who?
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.
Rein Vihalemm’s1 account of science was inspired by chemistry, which was his first subject at university, and by Thomas Kuhn’s historically and practically informed understanding of science2. In contrast to the then broadly practiced philosophy of science that leaned mainly on physics as the epitome of science, Vihalemm found in chemistry two aspects, only one of which resembled physics3.
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.
A narrative style is the most suitable form of expression for sharing historical knowledge and that much has been evident since the very inception of this venerable discipline. However, is the story or narrative really the most valuable product of historians? The very fact that history is being taught at almost all instances of primary and secondary education in the form of ready-made tales about nations, countries, ideas, or great ancestors seems to imply so. On the other hand, a criticism of this common practice comes from many different places.