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Do philosophers of history operate on any kind of different modes of thinking or inquiry as compared to professional historians? One question I'm struggling to understand is just when if ever does studying history lead to normative ethics for the present day on how to act towards certain groups?

Interesting! In order to practice and contribute to the philosophy of history, philosophers need to know both a wide range of works of history as well as to know about the methods employed by historians, but they do not need to be historians themselves. So, in your terms, philosophers of history need not use the same "modes of inquiry as compared to professional historians." The same is true in, say, philosophy of art in general or philosophy of biology. In philosophy of history general questions are raised about truth, testimony, the meaning of events, the nature of causation and historical explanation, and so on. Professional historians may presuppose a philosophy of truth (etc) but in constructing the history of the French Revolution (for example), they need not engage in any explicit reflection on alternative philosophies of truth, testimony, etc. As for history leading to normative ethics, matters are complex. Arguably the practice of history itself will rest on some value judgements (even if...

Can historical value judgements be objective? Because questions presuppose other questions having been answered, it seems crucial to figure out what prior questions it assumes, and philosophy of history often boils down to the psychological motives of people and individuals which must involve interpretations and not just a listing of facts.

To begin with some of your observations and then move to your question: I believe you are quite right that history involves more than the listing of facts that might be more true of a chronicle than a history and the practice of history involves interpretation. While for some historians and in some philosophies of history psychological motives and individual agency are important, but for Marxist historians and a Marxist philosophy of history there is more of a stress on economic forces and social relations. I suggest that the more plausible philosophies of history recognize historical explanations as a species or type of causal explanation. So, in my view, an historical explanation of the French Revolution identifies elements persons, events the explain what happened in France in 1789 for example implying that if those elements had not occurred, the French Revolution would not have taken place. If the historian thinks the French Revolution WOULD have occurred any way, her primary explanation...

Can a person be a historian and a philosopher at the same time. I have a passion for history and a joint passion for Philosophy? Nathan V.

Yes The clearest case of when you would need to be both a historian and a philosopher is when you write a history of philosophy. Expertise in both fields would also be highly valuable in writing philosophy of history. Apart from these two categories, the blending of philosophy and history (or the virtues of being both a philosopher and a historian) may vary. Consider matters from the standpoint of history: When would a history (or a historian) be aided by philosophy? Because one may write a history of any number of things (persons, events...) from a history of warfare to a history of agriculture, it may not be obvious when philosophy comes into play. Off hand, it seems that some philosophy will be inevitable in any history insofar as the history reflects a view (or a philosophy) of evidence, explanation, relevance, reasons and causes. But there are cases when philosophy seems more explicit as in a history of the French revolution versus a history of the first cities in the world. From the...

Are there any histories of philosophy that focus on the ideas of the philosophers in their effort to philosophically ground ideas about the universe that reveal it as profound, mysterious, or divine? I sometimes I think that histories of philosophy gloss over the more obscure religious and metaphysical thinking of philosophers and they don't really elucidate the gravity and spiritual ambitions behind those philosophers ideas and instead focus on their technical significance. (Spinoza was doing far more than just healing a contradiction in Descartes's concept of finite being for example) Those few things I've read that do talk about the spiritual ideas of great philosophers of the past however just state those great ideas without any reference to the intellectual basis the philosophers had for making those claims. I want a real philosophical introduction to the history of "profound" thinking about the universe that actually attempts to elucidate the grounds of their thinking.

Great question. Some philosophers seem to have deliberately sought to secularize the story of philosophy. I think this is probably true in the case of John Dewey (even though he did praise a naturalistic piety or "religious sensibility"). A classic, intro history to philosophy, Will Durran't The Story of Philosophy glides over the whole medieval era, Many philosophers both during his life time and today, seem (in my mind) to utterly miss or underestimate the deep sense of mystery that runs through the work of Wittgenstein. There is a wonderful overview of Wittgenstein's spirituality in the opening chapters of Kai-man Kwan's The Rainbow of Experiences, Critical Trust and God. In terms of histories: Copleston wrote a multi-volume history of philosophy that is fair minded, and (as himself a Roman Catholic thinker) he is keen to explore matters of the divine, deep questions of values and their role in the universe. Anthony Kenny is probably the greatest living historian of philosophy, and he, too,...