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Module code: PH643
Credits: 10
Semester: 1
Department: PHILOSOPHY
International: Yes
Overview Overview

This module will present the influential academic developments in 20th-21st century philosophy of history and analyse the main presuppositions and arguments used. Approaches to “meaning” have been central, understood initially as the meaning of historical events or processes (prior to the Enlightenment centring on religion, later centring on human perfectibility, both with major impacts on political developments). By 1950 many philosophers of history had sought to eschew the political as they concentrated on the meaning involved in historians’ evidence, methods and writings, as historians and philosophers alike were concerned with matters for which the understanding of “meaning” was crucial: historical objectivity, reality and truth, and the nature of historical explanation and understanding. The 19th century controversy whether historiography was “scientific” or “humanistic” resurfaced in the 20th century in the rivalry between (a) science-based logical empiricist analytical philosophy (used by some to criticise political totalitarianism) and (b) post-Wittgenstein “ordinary language” philosophies that analysed empathetic understanding and initially sought to be politically neutral. However, later pragmatic philosophy of history blurred the science/humanities distinction, focussed on narration, and clarified the “political”. 21st century work addresses the understanding of time, the nature and roles of memory and imagination, and ethical/political issues in historiography.

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