Is There a Relationship Between Philosophy and History?

Despite the diversity of the disciplines, the focus on history has been a constant in continental philosophy. The focus has been divided between two distinct conceptual foci, historicity and narrativity. Both focus on the past, but each has its own particular advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will examine the central question of ‘is there a relationship between philosophy and history?’ and explore some of the most important contemporary debates on the subject.


The concept of postmodernism began to be used in the 1950s, but the term was only formally used in art history and architecture by the 1970s. In philosophy, however, the idea first began to emerge with the ideas of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. They defined postmodernism as a movement against traditional world views, such as the idea that truth is a social construct, a scientific view of the past, or a Neo-Romantic view of the past.

The main principle of postmodern thought is the idea that there is no objective reality. There is no universally valid science or history, and no universally valid reason or logic. The idea that language and knowledge cannot be viewed as representing a unified reality is also central to postmodern thinking. For postmoderns, the idea that we have no true reality is a sign of unpredictability, and therefore unknowability.


Post-Kantians in philosophy and history have long debated whether to embrace the political realism of Kant and his idea of the constitution. Kant, a German philosopher, thought that we cannot conceive of progress in history without taking into account the shared and universal subjectivity structures of human beings. In his work, Kant rejects the idea that history is an objective reality, arguing that it must be considered from the point of view of an essentially undetermined future.

Kant began his philosophy with a transcendental logic that grounded the natural and mathematical sciences. Natorp and Cohen both took a more logical approach, identifying the logical features of thought. Natorp also saw scientific rules as methods of thinking and an exposition of rules. By contrast, Natorp equated education with the attunement of the mind to lines of thinking and an awareness of further determining the undetermined.

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One of the major projects in the philosophy of the twentieth century was the development of hermeneutics. Hermeneutics started with the interpretation of sacred texts, such as the Bible, and later spread to the study of all texts, including historical accounts. Gadamer was influenced by philosophers like Martin Heidegger, who developed a philosophy of hermeneutics that focused on human understanding as an ongoing process.

Heidegger’s approach to the question of Being is particularly fascinating, since he attempted to show how ubiquitous Being is. He referred to Being as the “ground” or “background” of all experience, a position that Gadamer sought to develop. Heidegger, on the other hand, introduced a much more experiential grasp of God to the discussion of being. Those insights are central to Gadamer’s philosophy and history.


After reading Grotius, Vico began researching the history of the Roman law. His work, titled Diritto Universale, was published between 1720 and 1722/2000. His intent was to demonstrate his qualifications for rhetoric and law chairship. In this work, Vico addressed the question of justice and reduced contemporary answers to two positions. One of those positions is the traditional Christian conception of human nature, which rests on the idea that human beings are eternal.

As an example of this, the New Science focuses on the manner of knowing and the subject matter itself. Vico, for example, proclaimed the need to begin where the subject matter begins. This stance is consistent with his idea that the most orderly history is conducive to the preservation of the human race. Because the world is not directly approachable, the best way to find its order is through the hierarchy of ideas and language.

Hayden White

Hayden White’s philosophy and history has permanently damaged conventional conceptions of history, philosophy, and narrative. Yet, it has also provoked new creativity and proposals. Hayden White’s philosophy and history have a strong cultural and political component. But his work is not without controversy. Let’s take a look at some of his most important ideas. To begin with, Hayden White’s philosophy and history are a departure from the orthodoxy of Western philosophy.

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Paul McLaughlin’s synthesis of White’s philosophy and history is a masterful introduction to his ideas, carefully researched and lucid. If you’re interested in White’s background, principal influences, and pivotal concepts, this book is essential reading. The book also contains contributions from Frank Ankersmit and Ewa Domanska, who wrote on the reception of White’s philosophy.

Frank Ankersmit

A postmodern historian of philosophy, Frank Ankersmit is an emeritus professor of intellectual history at Groningen University in the Netherlands. He is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences and recipient of the university’s medal of honor. He received his doctorate with his thesis Narrative Logic, published The Navel of History in 1990, and delivered his inaugural lecture, The Historical Experience, in 1993. Ankersmit has written many other books and articles, including History and Tropology (1994), Aesthetic Politics (1997), and Political Interpretation (2001).

His work on history has influenced contemporary thought in many areas, including political theory and aesthetics. His work has been criticized for its reliance on realism and postmodernism, and some have claimed that he was too preoccupied with the past to be philosophical about it. Nevertheless, he argues that history does not have narratives. Thus, we can’t use the past as a basis for philosophical inquiry, and we should not assume that history is the only way to understand human nature.

Keith Jenkins

This book, Keith Jenkins’ philosophy and history, attempts to redefine history and historical study. Jenkins presents new methods and approaches to ‘thinking history’ and argues that these approaches will influence historical practice. Written for history teachers and students, this is a useful introduction to the debates surrounding the history of modernity. If you’re considering this book for your next class, be sure to read it! It’s a must-have for those interested in philosophical history.

The book is designed to provoke conversation and debate about why history matters, as well as the ethical value of knowing it. Jenkins proposes that the work of history should be read as a narrative, and that the meaning the historian ascribes to a historical event depends as much on their ideological position as it does on the facts of the time. Because history is created by humans, different historians will assign different meaning to the same historical event. Nevertheless, all historians are bound by the same body of historical evidence.

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The Hegelian project has generated many debates about its relevance to contemporary thought. For example, one can debate whether philosophy is the pursuit of a God-eye view of reality, or a historical perspective. Some philosophers think that Hegel’s philosophy is insufficient to explain the past. Other philosophers, however, see the Hegelian project as a useful tool for understanding the present. Despite its numerous faults, Hegel’s contributions to philosophy continue to be relevant and influential.

While Hegel’s thought inspired many thinkers throughout the centuries, the school’s early years were not without controversy. Hegel’s 1821 publication of Naturrecht und Staatswissenschaft in Grundrisse attracted several objections. In 1826, a philosopher named Johann Herbart rebuked Hegel for mixing Monism and Transcendentalism with Spinoza and Kant. This, along with criticisms by the liberal press, led to a period of polemics against Hegel.


A common misunderstanding of Comte’s philosophy and history is that it has been overshadowed by the twentieth century. While Comte emphasized his philosophical ideas, his earliest writings were largely obscure, such as his book Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of Human Mind, which outlined the rise of humankind through stages towards an enlightened social order. In August 1817, he became secretary to Saint-Simon, a relationship that lasted seven years and ended in acrimony.

Despite his earliest publications, he struggled to find an academic position, and he eventually resorted to asking friends and sponsors for financial support. This setback resulted in his leaving Saint-Simon, France, in 1824. He was eventually expelled from the school that had educated him, but this didn’t deter him from his philosophy. Ultimately, Comte’s philosophy was influential and would have a lasting impact on modern thought.

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