Karl Marx’s Dialectical Historicism

One of the core elements to Karl Marx’s philosophy was his dialectical materialism and historicism, which come together in his dialectical historicism.  Most people are probably familiar with it.  There are five distinct stages (or epochs) of history: slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism.  But the movement of history is not linear-progressive, it is cyclical; … Continue reading Karl Marx’s Dialectical Historicism

Leo Strauss on the Three Waves of Modernity

Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was one of the most important historians of political philosophy in the 20th century.  A Jewish emigre to America in the 1930s, Strauss made his name as an exegete of the classics (Plato, Aristotle, and Thucydides especially; Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Maimonides among Arab-Islamic and Jewish medieval philosophers, and Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas … Continue reading Leo Strauss on the Three Waves of Modernity

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (2/5): Political Conflict and Historicism

The central theme of book one is how the best form of political governance, or how the Roman republic became a more perfect republic, is through conflict. Machiavelli does not believe in the “from heaven” concept of constitutions. Nor does he agree with the classical political philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, etc.) that the best political … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (2/5): Political Conflict and Historicism

Giambattista Vico and the Conceit of “History”

Giambattista Vico was a 17th and 18th century Italian lawyer and philosopher. He produced the work The New Science in 1725, one of the most influential and important works of philosophy in the modern Western tradition. In his work, Vico lays out a comprehensive rebuke of Enlightenment philosophy and historicism, and his commentary on psychological, … Continue reading Giambattista Vico and the Conceit of “History”

Reading “War and Peace”: The Tyranny of Historicism and Tolstoy’s Philosophical Reflections

Philosophy of History is a major sub-theme that runs through the work; it begins to appear more readily in the second half of the story and a dedicated second epilogue by Tolstoy is nothing more than reflections on the philosophy of history. War and Peace, therefore, is more than just a story, more than a … Continue reading Reading “War and Peace”: The Tyranny of Historicism and Tolstoy’s Philosophical Reflections

Hegel’s Philosophy of History (3/4): The Age of Aristocracy and the Struggle for Freedom

We last left off examining Hegel’s philosophy of history with the Hero, Orient, and religion.  Now we move into the heart of Hegel’s Historicism: the movement from the orient to aristocracy.  The movement to aristocratic governance is the next great moment in historical unfolding, but also posed many problems as Hegel makes clear in his … Continue reading Hegel’s Philosophy of History (3/4): The Age of Aristocracy and the Struggle for Freedom

Hegel’s Philosophy of History (2/4): The Role of Religion and Culture in History

Continuing with Hegel’s philosophy of history we will move into one of the most important, but often neglected, aspects of Hegel’s philosophy: the role of religion as the source of society and culture.  Throughout his works, Hegel comments on religion, the power of religion, and the role of religion in society and shaping national character and spirit.  … Continue reading Hegel’s Philosophy of History (2/4): The Role of Religion and Culture in History

Hegel’s Philosophy of History (1/4): The Age of Heroes and the Orient

Hegel is considered the father of History in some circles, or the father of Historicism.  By History, rather than history, scholars and philosophers refer to History as Historicism – the notion that History is unfolding in its particular epoch toward an ultimate goal.  History has a telos, it is moved by dialectical advance to its … Continue reading Hegel’s Philosophy of History (1/4): The Age of Heroes and the Orient