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Presuppositions of Critical History (Inglese)

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Di Steven H Propp - Pubblicato su
Formato: Copertina flessibile
[NOTE: Page numbers refer to the 147-page paperback edition.]

Francis Herbert Bradley (1846-1924) was a British idealist philosopher. He wrote in the Preface to this 1874 book, "The barbarous title of the following pages anticipates their method, and to some extent their conclusions. Their method consists in taking the existence of certain facts for granted, and in endeavoring to discover the conditions of that existence... critical history must have a criterion, and the next matter was to find that criterion... the canon of history was---the historian... And the historian who is true to the present is the historian as he ought to be. This is the main thought in what follows..."

He explains, "The heading, `Presuppositions of Critical History' expresses briefly the doctrine which is the opposite of the uncritical, and anticipates the result that history without so-called prejudications is a mere delusion, that what does everywhere exist is history founded upon them, and what ought to exist is history with true preconceptions consistently developed throughout the entire field." (Pg. 87)

He suggests, "History must ever be founded on a presupposition; and the scepticism which saw in the succession of historical writings a series of fictions, where the present was transported into the bygone age, was thus and so far justified: but the insight into the ground of the partial justification will exhibit, I hope, the source of the general mistake." (Pg. 96) He concludes, "This much at present then seems to be clear---that critical history must have a presupposition, and that this presupposition is the uniformity of law. And we have accomplished here yet another stage of the present inquiry." (Pg. 99)

He states, "Is the matter of history probable or certain? We believe it to be probable; but this does not mean that about all its contents there is practically a doubt. It means that, be there never so many converging lines of probable reasoning, yet these never transcend the region of practical certainty. The result is never theoretically proved." (Pg. 113-114)

He summarizes, "We have seen so far that history is matter of inference; that every inference rests upon a presupposition; and that this presupposition is formed by present experience. We have rather shown that, although this experience is not always personal in the sense of that which we can immediately verify for ourselves, it yet is personal in the sense that upon the observation and judgement of our own mind it ultimately depends. We have shown that it is present, not in the sense of connexion with this or that moment, but in the sense of belonging to no moment in particular. We have shown that this character belongs alone to scientific testimony, that the material of history must hence be subject to analogy; and this distinction we have endeavoured to strengthen and defend." (Pg. 121)

Not nearly as influential as Bradley's "Appearance and Reality," this essay is still of interest to students of the philosophy of history.