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From History to Theory$
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Kerwin LeeKlein

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520268814

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520268814.001.0001

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From Philosophy to Theory

From Philosophy to Theory

Chapter:
(p.35) TWO From Philosophy to Theory
Source:
From History to Theory
Author(s):

Kerwin Lee Klein

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520268814.003.0003

This chapter outlines the emergence of the “philosophy of history” as both a research specialty and a term of art in cold war North America. It explains that before the Second World War, essentially no respectable academic in Canada, Great Britain, or the United States felt they could be identified as a philosopher of history. It argues that philosophy of history remained popularly identified with old-fangled universal history, and new conceptions of science, especially those developed in analytical philosophy, posing special challenges, as philosophers came to suspect that history could never attain the logical precision of a true science. It details that by the mid-1960s, history and theory, a more nearly “scientific” phrase threatened to displace philosophy of history, just as the failure of historical discourse to conform to idealized conceptions of scientific method opened the possibility that history might be redefined as an aesthetic practice.

Keywords:   philosophy of history, 1960s, North America, Second World War, Canada, Great Britain, history and theory

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