The Philosophy of History Course Description:
This course introduces students to the philosophy of history, i.e., the philosophical inquiry into the meaning, nature, and validity of historical experience. After surveying earlier attempts, we shall focus on a distinctively German tradition of regarding history as a coherent, meaningful process oriented towards some ultimate aim, which to elucidate is the philosophy of history’s task. Here we shall read selections from Kant, Herder, Hegel, and Marx. We shall be especially concerned with identifying the theological sources of this tradition.
As used here, the expression “philosophy of history” denotes the attempt to understand the course of history as a whole. “As a whole” means that the historical process forms a unity embodying an overall plan, whereas the particular historical events that make up this process are neither random nor incoherent; rather, they possess a specific meaning and are justified in regard to this plan. The philosophy of history answers the demand that historical events and human experiences be satisfactory to reason, indeed, that reason should see itself progressively reflected in them.
In this course students will be able to:
- Learn about different concepts of “history.”
- Understand how the concept of history as linear and irreversible emerged.
- Inquire into the basic unit of history—whether it is the individual in his ultimate concern, a sovereign state, a people, a culture, or all of humanity.
- Trace the origin of the modern idea of history as a progress narrative and how this idea shapes not only history but also historical action in the form of intervention and policy.
- Appreciate why it became urgent to identify meaning in history in the context of Christian eschatology. Here we shall particularly focus on the idea that God cannot be known in himself, but only in and as he reveals himself through history.
Löwith, Karl. Meaning in History: The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Yovel, Yirmiyahu. Kant and the Philosophy of History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.
McCarney, Joseph. Hegel on History. Abingdon: Routledge, 2000.
Additional readings will be taken from the following sources:
Beck, Lewis White, ed. Kant: On History. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001.
Hegel, G. W. F. Introduction to the Philosophy of History. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1988.
Hegel, G. W. F. Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
McLellan, David, ed. Karl Marx: Selected Writings. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Required / Elective: Elective
Area of Study: History and Methods
Prerequisites: Admission to the program of study/Must have completed Orientation to Hindu Studies or Concurrently enrolled in OTHS.
Faculty / Instructor: Dr. Joydeep Bagchee
Quarter Offered: Spring 2022
Start Date: April 17, 2022
End Date: June 26, 2022
Day: Every Sunday
Time: 10:00 am EST – 01:00 pm EST