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   Course Title    Philosophy of History and the Methodology of Historical Knowledge
Lecturer    Olga S. Gavriouchkina
Institution    St. Petersburg State University
Country    Russia

Aim of the course.           

The course considers philosophy of history as a later form of social philosophy against the background of political and moral reasoning that prevailed in the earlier periods (16th and 17th centuries). It aims at demonstrating the central position of the notion of history within the whole field of contemporary social science. The task is to be completed through:

-          first, the analysis of the initial rupture within the classical order of knowledge that allowed for the emergence of the concept of history as a consequence of arbitrary events generating the meaning of the present phenomena and defining the shape of the final goal situated in the future;

-          second, the close study of the 18th and 19th century versions of the philosophy of history;

-          third, the revealing of the basic contemporary strategies of human and social science and their reduction to the respective doctrines within the "old" philosophy of history;

-          fourth, the analysis of methodological problems of historical knowledge engendered by the shifts in philosophical understanding of history that took place in the 20th century.


Role of the course in the overall degree curriculum.           

The course is mandatory for the students within the "social philosophy" specialisation and intends to deepen their knowledge in the history of social philosophy of the period when it took the shape of philosophy of history (18th – 19th centuries mainly). It may also be interesting for the historians of early modern philosophy insofar as the course highlights the alterations introduced by the newly emerged notion of History into the order of universal knowledge (mathesis universalis).


Teaching methods.           

The course consists of lectures followed by students' presentations and discussions of the basic texts analysed during a given session. Lectures employ both classical philosophical texts and the contemporary humanitarian discussions on the topic.


Course Content

First week. Introduction. "Scientific destiny" of the topic: history as a late intra-philosophical phenomenon and the backward search for history in Renaissance and ancient thinking. Brief review of the related contemporary publications.


First block (3 sessions)            New History or "the History Proper"

Second week The enigma of Vico: historia naturalis versus universal history

Third week Contradictory Interpretations of the Same Social Phenomenon or the Birth of the New Structure of Knowledge: Hume and Rousseau on the Rise and the Progress of Arts

Fourth week Genealogy, Archaeology, History: Nietzsche's case


Second block (8 sessions)            Social Philosophy Taking the Form of Philosophy of History

Fifth week Rousseau's Three Discourses and On the Social Contract: History and the General Will

Sixth week Kant's Groundbreaking Division of Nature and History

Seventh week Kantian tradition: Herder as Kant's implementator

Eighth week Emergence of the Concept of Nation: Fichte's Reden an die deutsche Nation

Ninth week Hegel's Concept of Weltgeschichte

Tenth week Schelling's System der Weltalter as the Complete System of Philosophy as Such

Eleventh week German Romanticism: Accomplishment of the National philosophical Tradition or the Forerunner of Positivism?


Third block (3 sessions)            What Do Scientists Think?

Twelfth week Historians of Enlightenment and Their Suggestions on How to Write History: Gibbon, Hume, Mably

Thirteenth week Romantic trend in European historiography: Leopold von Ranke, J. Burckhardt, Schlosser, Zimmermann, Guizot, Michelet, Carlyle.

Fourteenth week Neo-Kantian Critique of Positivist Historiography: Windelband, Weber, Dilthey, Meinecke, C. Becker.

Fifteenth week Theoretical Insights of the Annales School and the School of "New History"


Fourth block (2 sessions)            Is Social Science Still Possible?

Sixteenth week M. Foucault: Archaeology Mapping the Field of Contemporary Knowledge

Seventeenth week   Is there Anything Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics?

Eighteenth week            Conclusion. General Discussion.



Reading of the following Primary Sources is mandatory:

2nd week: Vico, G.B. Principles of New Science…Books 1 and 2 (any edition)

3d week: Hume, David. Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences. In: Hume, D. Selected Essays. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Rousseau, J.-J. Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts. In: Rousseau, J.-J. Basic Political Writings. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987.

4th week: Nietzsche, F. Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie fr das Leben (any edition).

5th week: Rousseau, J.-J. On the Social Contract. In: Rousseau, J.-J. Basic Political Writings. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987.

6th week: Kant, I. Idea of General History (any edition)

Kant, I. Was heißt: sich im Denken orientieren? (any edition)

Kant, I. Mutmaßlicher Anfang der Menschengeschichte (any edition)

7th week: Herder, I. G. Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit. Books 4, 7, and 20 (any edition).

8th week: Fichte J.-G. Reden an die deutsche Nation (any edition)

9th week: Hegel, G.W.F. Philosophy of History. Introduction (any edition).

10th week: Schelling, F.W.J. System der Weltalter (any edition)

11th week: Schlegel, F. Philosophy of History (any edition)

12th week: Hume, D. The History of England. Introduction (any edition)

13th week: Carlyle, Th. French Revolution (any edition)

14th week: Dilthey, W. Der Aufbau der geschichtlichen Welt in den Geisteswissenschaften (any edition)

15th week: Bloch, M. Apology of History (any edition)

16th week: Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things. Chapters 7, 9, 10. (any edition)

17th week: Gadamer, H.-G. Wahrheit und Methode. Part 3. (any edition)


Reading of the following Secondary Literature is optional:

Appleby J. (ed.) Telling the Truth About History. New York: Norton, 1995.

Burke P. The French Historical Revolution: The Annales School. Stanford University Press, 1990.

Cohen, Ralph. Afterthoughts: Historical Intervention and the Writing of History, in History and & Histories within the Human Sciences (ed.. Ralph Cohen and Michael S. Roth), The University Press of Virginia.

Geyl, Pieter. Debates with Historians. New York: Meridian Books, 1964.

Godehot, Jacques. The New Concept of the Nation and Its Diffusion in Europe. In: Dann-Dinwiddy (eds.), Nationalism in the Age of the French Revolution, pp. 13-26.

Gooch G.P. History and Historians in the Nineteenth Century. Boston: Beacon Press, 1959.

Himmelfarb, Gertrude. The New History and the Old. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987.

Iggers, Georg G., Historiography in the Twentieth Century. Wesleyan University Press, 1997.

Livingston, D.W. and M. Martin, eds. Hume as Philosopher of Society, Politics, and History. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1991.

Man, Paul de. Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust. Yale University Press, 1979.

Marwick, Arthur. Two approaches to Historical Study: The Metaphysical (Including "Post-modernism") and the Historical. Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 30 (1), January 1995, pp.5-37.

Meinecke, F. Historicism and its Problems. In Fritz Stern (ed.), The Varieties of History. New York: Vintage Books, 1973.

Rand, Calvin. Two Meanings of Historicism in the Writings of Dilthey, Troeltch, and Meinecke. In: The History of Ideas: Canon and Variations. Donald Kelley (ed.) Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1994.

Shklar, Judith N. Men and Citizens. A Study of Rousseau's Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969.

Smith, Anthony, Theories of Nationalism, any edition
, John. The identity of the history of ideas. In: Peter Laslett, W.G. Runciman, Quentin Skinner (eds.), Philosophy, Politics and Society, Oxford, 1972.

, Melvin. Reconstructing the history of political languages: Pocock, Skinner and the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. History and Theory 1990/1
, Gordon J. Why should history matter? In: J.G.A. Pocock, G.J. Schochet, Lois G. Schwoerer (eds.), The varieties of British political thought 1500-1800. Cambridge, 1993.

Stern. F. (ed.). The Varieties of History. New York: Vintage Books, 1973.

White, Hayden. Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1993.

White, Hayden. Response to Arthur Marwick, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 30 (2), April 1995, pp.233-246.

Wokler, Robert. Rousseau. Oxford, 1986.

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