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.
Summary CPSH Research Stay, Oulu, 25.03-1.04.2019
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? Jules Michelet 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.
Comments on theoryrevolt
There’s a stupid saying that if you are not a liberal when you are young you have no heart and if you are not a conservative when you are old you have no brains. I’ve tried to fix this idiocy by adding that if you are not a revolutionary when you are old you have no soul. I am much more radical as an old man than I was as a young man for the good reason that I’ve seen enough of beastliness to tolerate repetitions of it no longer and instead to oppose them as they occur daily and to speak for stopping their sources, as far as it is in my little power to do so, especially in the fields of a
Recent proposals for the development of the philosophy of history
The disciplinary identity of philosophy of history is currently very much in flux, and this institutionally as well as paradigmatically. The former is evidenced by the founding of Centres like the one in Oulu and international organizations dedicated to the discipline, along with the sprouting of conferences and workshops on a wide range of topics of concern.
Hayden White was an internationally very influential scholar (1928–2018), who “explored how history is made”. This is the theme on which The New York Times focused in its obituary for the American historian on March 10, 2018. Many colleagues in his discipline would, however, probably describe his professional character differently because of his notoriety.