Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 6

Jan Daniel P.

Ching March 17, 2018

Prof. Neil P. Azcuna


History is the most exhilarating testimony to the creative vigor, splendid variety, of the human spirit. This
is only one of the many striking statements that one can remember from the essay written by Geoffrey
Barraclough bearing the title “The Historian in a Changing World”. The essay centers primarily on the
need to change how we look at history and to leave the traditional views in favor of what actually
applies to the present. He also makes a serious contestation on the idea that one cannot risk making
moral judgments in history; because for him this lingering thought in history is deplorable, a thought
that was propagated and made into a law by relativistic historicism. Accordingly there is a need to have
new perspective in History; one that veers away from the Eurocentric view as if Europe has maintained
to be the center of the world. This Eurocentric view in history for Barraclough carries no relevance to the
present times.

History, as the result of the new things that happen in any given situation has either lost or is losing
most especially as key that holds importance in present living. The past and other previous experiences
are by no means uncertain guides that put us into uncertainty. Yet history, especially the thought that
lingers during the time of the writing of the essay was seen as the Magistra Vitae, due simply to the
reason that the nature of everything is comprehended it’s development, a kind of development that can
only be seen and understood in the light of history. Yet the relativistic view point of history has put us in
a scientific age in a profound sense. The cult of historicism, one that was propagated in the words of
Ruggiero as the evaluation of reality as a historical process of spiritual formation resulted to the utter
rejection or negation of rationalism from the 18th Century. It substituted the concept of development
and individuality with belief of the stability of human nature and reason. Human thought seem to run
almost entirely in history and that it affected all other departments in mental activity. Historians and the
kind of understanding they had about history which were connected in the relativity and in the past,
cannot provide an ultimate view of reality due to the relativistic viewpoint and ultimately denying an
absolute nature to things as all things are related. This has also caused us to dive into obscurity and
bewilderment as we are taught by relativistic historicism not to identify what is right and wrong about
the people who have lived in the past but instead we are to identify the historical conditions that made
them do it. This takes away the moral evaluation or judgment that one can put in reading history and
blameless we may be in making our judgment we are not supposed to do so. That kind of historicism is
accordingly in living to the present.

Barraclough also adds that despite the necessity of continuity and development but due to the
historians choices on what to consider as periods of preparation and fulfillment, this has only led us to
half-truths and partial views. He makes a point that every period in continuity is a turning point despite
one being more of an importance than the other. Every event is in itself sufficient, finally it was states
that continuity and development can at times be dangerous and misleading as it gives a steady flow of
everything, which according to Barraclough is an illusion. I certainly do at some points agree with
Barraclough’s essay about historicism most especially that the one he was talking about is still used
today specifically the passing of moral judgment and the flexible nature of historians choices in
establishing causations. One thing however that I would have wanted him to talk about wwould be the
limits to the kind of judgment that we can make in reading history or in writing history itself. He
probably wanted to just simply leave people to their whims, but to do that can also be dangerous and
Jan Daniel P. Ching March 17, 2018
Prof. Neil P. Azcuna


Wilhem Dilthey’s style fits into a totally different category as his ideas about history especially
historicism being the key to the final liberation of man from theology, philosophy and natural science,
the failure to work out universal conceptual system for history, and along with the three major factions
in philosophy are expressed or narrated via a “dream”. Representing idealism of freedom, materialism
or positivism, and classical or objective idealism in groups of philosophers and famous thinkers who
have converged to talk with each other in a dream; however if one looks pass and sees the implication
of the dream one can see that Dilthey aims to establish the correctness of every point of view in
understanding the philosophical principles that underlie within history. It would also be observed that
there are influences of Hegel and Kant in his writing and an attempt to combine them with historicism as
personified in the thinkers and philosophers he has seen in that dream. He also mentions about an
atmosphere of peace that strove to harmonize conflicting thoughts as he was about to sleep.

The dream begins with Dilthey seeing the greatest thinkers of the different times in pursuit of a single
causality in the universe which could be derived from the dependent laws of nature; they subordinate
the spirit to matter. These thinkers and philosophers included Archimedes and Ptolemy. They based
their explanation on the universal material solidity of nature. They have limited our knowledge to what
is known through methods of the natural sciences. Another group pressed towards the center where
Socrates and the noble figure of the old and what Dilthey says as the god-like Plato. They both tried to
establish the knowledge of supersensual world order based on the consciousness of the divine in the
human. There was also Augustine, accordingly Dilthey was listening to their conversation as they
reconcile the essence of Christianity with the teaching of the venerable Greeks. Visions of Kant was also
stated where Kant was said to be the one who elevated the idealism of freedom to level of critical
consciousness. There were also those converged around Pythagoras and Heraclitus, the first to intuit the
divine harmony of the universe. All these philosophers were proclaimers of a comprehensive spiritual
divine power in the universe which lives in every object and every person operating in them akk
according to the laws of nature with consequences that there is no transcendental order, no free realm
of free will. He also notes that despite their differences, these thinkers coming from different ages
sought to mediate with each other but to no avail. This made Dilthey realized that his dream led him to
the realization that every world view is conditioned historically and therefore limited and relative. These
world views are divided by an inner law and yet exists along side each other the centuries grounded in
the nature of the universe and the perceptive minds. Each however despite being related are one sided
thus this makes us only see the pure light in its rays.

The highest aim of philosophy is that the objective thinking of an experimental science which derives
from appearances an order determined by laws, is raised to the consciousness of itself and that Dilthey
also makes a point that there can be an independent philosophy of art, religion, law or of the state; a
clear indication that Dilthey was in part Hegelian in his view point. According to him, Historical
consciousness shatters the last chains that philosophy and natural sciences could not break and it also
saves the unity in man’s soul; the glimpse into a final harmony. With regards to history, Dilthey
mentions that What man is, his history tells as our past is unshakable and haunts us like ghosts and that
our life is conditioned by the accompanying voices of the past. Truth is, due to the very poetic means by
which Dilthey writes his ideas in dream form as he definitely did dream it. Yet the message of his dream
is clear that despite in differences in world views and modes of understanding the nature of things these
work together in harmony and each useful in different ways.
Jan Daniel P. Ching March 17, 2018
Prof. Neil P. Azcuna


While the one who compiled these essays says that Croce’s essay is self-explanatory I will definitely
contest and somehow object to that. First, the manner by which Croce delivers his points concerning the
issues of history versus chronicle to name one of the many emphasis he takes into account. This essay is
not for those who do not have enough idea about how thinkers like Croce write their principles. It is not
even for those who only have familiarity of it like myself. He writing is comparable to that of Hegel’s
style of explaining things and ideas in his thoughts, verbous but at the same time useful which can also
cause a great deal of obscurity when one can just state things simply. This is where manner of writing
comes into an important play but no matter what the style of writing may be the thoughts of Croce
about what happened versus why it happened, every history is contemporary history, and whether
history is a spiritual act or not; are still essential points that every student of history must know. The first
point that Croce talks about in his essay is the nature of contemporary history which he says is every
history as no matter the time that they may be written it is an act of the spirit which is outside time both
of the first and the after and is formed at the same time as the act to which it is linked and from which it
is distinguished by means of a distinction not chronological but ideal.

Non-contemporary history or past history is also contemporary history as the condition of its existence
is that the deed of which history is told must vibrate in the soul of the historian or to employ the
profession or expression of the historian; that the documents are before the historian and that they are
intelligible. A Second point that Croce makes is that History is never constructed in narratives but in
documents or from narratives that have been reduced to documents and treated as such. He compares
this as a kind of history that has a spirit while a history based on mere narratives is like a corpse. He also
states that the past does not answer to the past but the present interests’ answers to the past; this
makes history a magister vitae (a traditional idea negated by Barraclough). He goes on saying that a
history without relation of the document would be an unverifiable history and one must know that the
reality of history lies in this verifiability and the narrative in which it is given concrete is historical
narrative only in so far as it is a critical exposition of the document. That kind of history is a history
without being and truth and would not be considered to exist as history. The essay then continues with
the second part, the central emphasis on what I have mentioned that histories without documents are
corpses, separated from their living documents and are empty narratives. Even if these narratives come
from witnesses of the time, the absence of the a document to support the narratives of the witnesses
will appear neither true or false, except that it will be true to the witnesses who were there at the time
of the event happened. Mere narratives is nothing but complex words for Croce , empty words or
formulas asserted as an act of will.

Croce also make a distinction between chronicle and history, he states that the record of the individual
is a chronicle and history is a general fact; chronicles are attributed to private records as history is to
public facts but what was general were not always individual and the individual general and the public
were not always private and public. The truth that he makes is that the distinction between history and
chronicles are not distinguishable as two forms of history, mutually complementary or as one
subordinates the other, but as two spiritual attitudes. History accordingly is living chronicle, chronicle is
dead history, history is contemporary history and a chronicle is past history, finally every history
becomes a chronicle when it is no longer thought of but recorded in abstract words. Even the history of
philosophy is nothing but a chronicle to those who do not know much about philosophy.

The third and final part of his essay alludes to the idea that dead history revives and the past history
again becomes present depending on the demands of development and that it would be impossible for
us to understand anything of the effective process of historical thought unless we start from the
principle that the spirit is history itself. The spirit lives again in its own history without externalities
called narratives and documents but these externalities are instruments that it make itself, acts that
serve a preparation to that vital evocation in whose process they resolve. Croce’s essay does shed light
to the basic understanding of history especially on how sources such as documents and narratives, and
even chronicles are merely a part of its whole and that these have differences. Croce also gives an
answer to what past history and contemporary history is and concludes that all his history is
contemporary due to certain grounds that he specifies. There are truly certain parts in the essay that
are not as self-explanatory as it was made to be by the compiler of these essays but nonetheless I stand
on a point that reading and understanding Croce’s work (with the little familiarity I have) is enriching but
can at times be obscuring, probably owing to the fact that I do not know much about the language of
philosophy and perhaps even that of history and philosophy put together. There are hints of Hegel in his
work but takes a different route, as Hegel says that history is the spirit itself; Croce believes that history
is the act of the spirit.