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JULES MICHELET Self-conscious disciple of Vico Used unconventional sources to development portraits of everyday life in the past Folklore, songs, poetry, architecture Wrote History of France 6 volumes Identified with common people but also celebrated the emergence of a sense of nationhood

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JULES MICHELET

  • Self-conscious disciple of Vico

  • Used unconventional sources to development portraits of everyday life in the past

    • Folklore, songs, poetry, architecture

  • Wrote History of France

    • 6 volumes

    • Identified with common people but also celebrated the emergence of a sense of nationhood


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FRANÇOIS GUIZOT

  • Wrote History of Civilization in France

    • 1830

    • Expressed patriotic and romantic nationalism

  • Parlayed fame from this book to become first minister under King Louis Philippe


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THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY

  • Wrote History of England

    • Established history as a branch of great literature

  • Articulated version of what became the “Whig Interpretation” of history

    • Treated the history of England as synonymous with the emergence of liberty

    • “The history of England is emphatically the history of progress. It is the history of constant movement of a great society towards perfection”


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GOTTFRIED HERDER

  • Wrote Toward a Philosophy of History of Man

    • Portrayed history as an evolutionary process

    • What existed in the present and what would come about in the future rested on what had been done in the past

      • Demolished Enlightenment habit of disparaging the past

  • First thinker to recognize that there are differences between different kinds of men and that human nature is not uniform but diversified

    • Anticipated modern view that people have no fixed nature but instead are whatever their historical experience makes them


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IMMANUEL KANT

  • Wrote An Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View

    • Rejected Herder’s emphasis on human dissimilarities and proposed instead to regard the unfolding of history as “the realization of a hidden plan of nature” by which “all the capacities implanted by her in mankind can be fully developed”

    • Concentrated on uniformity

    • History was a process by which humankind became rational and thereby fulfilled its fundamental nature


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GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL

  • Main book was Philosophy of History

    • Compilation of his lectures published after his death

    • Goal was to make the entirety of the human past comprehensible

  • Saw history as the manifestation of divine will in time

    • Wanted to provide an intellectual system that would explain the ways of God in the world he had created


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HEGEL’S SYSTEM

  • Saw history as a logical and orderly process

    • A manifestation of divine will in time

    • Reason and freedom would gradually encompass the entire world

  • Wanted to provide an intellectual system that would explain the ways of God in the world he had created

    • Experienced reality existed first as an abstract ideal and was later made actual in the world through the unfolding of divine will over time


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DIALECTIC I

  • The mechanism of change which brings about the realization of divine will proceeds according to the dialectic

    • And the human mind could understand this process by thinking the same way as this process operated

  • All things give rise to their opposites in Hegel’s world of pure thought


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DIALECTIC II

  • Thesis (original idea)

  • Antithesis (counterproposition)

  • Synthesis (compromise idea between the two previous extremes)

  • Everything generates dialectic tensions (ideas, nations, social groups, and institutions) that are ultimately resolved through the formation of new syntheses

    • The dialectic therefore explains how change took place over time


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PROGRESS

  • The march of history produced changing levels of consciousness among human beings

    • Human nature undergoes alterations as a result of new forms of experience and awareness

      • All of which produced new dialectic processes

    • People became more rational and free due to the dialectic process


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MAIN POINTS I

  • The unfolding of history gradually reveals God’s plan for humanity

  • The ultimate goal of this plan is total rationality and freedom for human beings

  • Human beings therefore become more rational and more free as history progresses


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MAIN POINTS II

  • The motor which drives history towards its ultimate goal of complete rationality and freedom is the dialectic

  • The dialectic works on a number of levels at the same time but what it does is posit a thesis, which in turn generates an antithesis. The tension between these two opposites ultimately results in the creation of a synthesis (a compromise between the two) which then becomes a new thesis, thereby starting the entire process over again


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MAIN POINTS III

  • Each new synthesis/thesis is an improvement over the thesis which preceded it and therefore the process always results in progress

  • To understand how and why history moves, the historian must understand the dialectic and also must think in a dialectic fashion


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HEGEL’S LEGACY

  • Even though he shared Kant’s inclination to emphasize the emergent rationality among humans, he sided with Herder in his comprehension of human nature as malleable and never fixed or final

    • Existed in an eternal condition of becoming

    • Therefore different humans in different times and places had different natures

  • Favored Herder’s holistic conception of the past in which each phase maintained integrity as a prerequisite to whatever followed

    • Historians must study the past ages in their own terms because each made an important contribution to the dialectical process which would ultimately result in the final realization of God’s plan for humankind


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GERMAN HISTORICISM

  • Affirmed the need for particular methodological means to understand the meaning of the past

    • Pointed to the diversity of human experience and claimed that different peoples quite literally viewed the world differently

    • To understand the past, scholars had to enter the mental universe of past actors empathetically and reconstruct their picture of reality

      • A historian must place himself inside the heads of past actors in order to understand their actions


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LEOPOLD VON RANKE

  • Wanted to describe historical events “as they really were”

    • Transformed history into a modern, academic discipline

      • University-based

      • Archive-centered

      • Professional

        • In that leading proponents underwent extensive postgraduate training


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VON RANKE’S WORK

  • Wrote over 60 books

    • Emergence of the European states after the Reformation was his great subject

  • Tried to achieve balance and objectivity

    • His works retain credibility today because of his comprehensive research and scholar disengagement

  • His weakness was that his work was largely descriptive in nature, with little analysis