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Philosophy of History

Philosophy of History is a sub-branch of philosophy, albeit a small segment compared to metaphysics or Ethics, for example. Its place here is to provide a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the works of history. Here, history generally establishes what events occurred in the past. In contrast, the philosopher of history endeavours to answer: why it happened, where there are any discernible patterns or process, how events interact with the human psyche and what this can teach us about human society, art, sciences and more. Some famous individuals who have made significant advances in the field include Thucydides, Plato, Augustine, ibn Khaldun, Machiavelli, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault, Fukuyama and more. This list is not exhaustive.

Crudely speaking, some of the aforementioned scholars like Marx, Hegel and Augustine, posit that history proceeds towards an end goal: a teleological conception of history. In this sense, history will end at a higher state of completion for which little would change. However, post WW2 many castigated such claims, and indeed the philosophy of history as a whole because of the rise of potential future Hitler or Stalin, who like their epithets, claim they understand history, therefore saving humankind. One man is Karl Popper, who asserted this standpoint. Another example, similar to popper, who led the charge against this liner or teleological conception of history after the war, was Foucault. He rejected linearity - that history proceeds to a goal - but he went to the opposite extreme, postulating that there are no patterns in history and everything proceeds in random chaos, which led some to claim Foucault’s arguments is full with contradictions. Finally, there is the middle ground. This middle position rehabilitates the two vices. It includes the notion that history moves cyclically - that history repeats itself - and civilisations have natural cycles of growth and decay, driven by human nature and mass psychology which are constants in human history. Hence, one should think of Thucydides who looked at the Peloponnesian War in such manners. Since human nature is constant, it stands to reason that human beings, generally, would react similarly to similar stimuli in predictable manners.

We have divided the works via means of epochs to make resources easier to find. Works on Thucydides made in the 21st century can be found in ‘Ancient Era'.