Understanding history: an introduction to analytical philosophy of history

Front Cover
University of Ottawa Press, Jan 1, 1992 - History - 121 pages
0 Reviews
Has any question about the historical past ever been finally answered? Of course there is much disagreement among professional historians about what happened in the past and how to explain it. But this incisive study goes one step further and brings into question the very ability of historians to gather and communicate genuine knowledge about the past. Understanding Historyapplies this general question from the philosophy of history to economic history of American slaveholders. Do we understand the American slaveholders? Has the last word on the subject been said? Both the alleged "profitability" of slavery and the purported causes of the American Civil War are philosophically analyzed. Traditional narrative history and econometric history are examined and compared, and their different philosophical assumptions made explicit. The problem of justifying historical methodologies is first set in the wider context of the philosophical problem of knowledge, then lucidly explained and resolved along pragmatic lines. The novelty of Gorman's approach lies in its comparison of narrative with econometric history, its analysis of empathetic understanding in terms of cost-benefit analysis, and its elucidation of the metaphysical presuppositions of empiricism. It stands out especially for the clarity, rigor, and simplicity of its arguments.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Reality 3557
35
Traditional History 5976
59
CHAPTER 5
75
Copyright

2 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (1992)

Jonathan Gorman is Reader in Philosophy at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Among his publications is "The Expression of Historical Knowledge".

Bibliographic information