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Analysis of General Theories of History - Essay Example

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Analysis of General Theories of History

Experiences from one generation to another do not vary greatly; thereby it is important to learn lessons from the overall course of history. The first attempt to record the science of history was undertaken by the Greeks about twenty-five hundred years ago. The need to comprehend history and translate its effects into the future does not arise in societies with long-standing and relatively steady social structures. Such a state of affairs is not given much consideration. However, when societies face sudden drastic turmoil which triggers changes in the social structure, then understanding the underlying motives which led to the change becomes imperative. Usually wars, travelling, trade and colonization result in an entirely different culture being imposed on the society which they come into contact with. This forced integration of diverse cultures culminates in a clash between different social strata; so it becomes crucial to identify and comprehend the sources and foundations of such oppositions. Men of knowledge compare and contrast various sorts of governments and social structures in an attempt to resolve differences and bring harmony to the society. It is obvious that conflict resolution is not possible unless conflict description and diagnosis are accurate enough. The role and responsibility of creating accurate problem diagnosis is within the domain of political theorists. Neither has history been created nor have our social structures evolved in accordance with a pre-defined plan. Nature has not dictated the course of events rather it is the people who compose societies who chose their cultural norms, established various institutions and developed ideologies. It is time to realize that the human nature itself is determined by changes in life and labour. History has been shaped by economic progress, division of society in different social-economic strata, changes in condition of labour, advancements in production and trading. In this respect there have been a number of different contributions to thought on political history from various quarters. The evolution of political history in its current forms can be seen as deriving from the Age of Enlightenment where thinkers such as Hegel and Kant picked up the gauntlet to define history in such a manner. This work was carried on later by numerous others including Karl Marx who has had a major impact on the modern day given his role in the creation of a communist ideology. In more modern terms, the earliest thoughts on the philosophy of history derived from the views and work of Kant. He held that humanity had been driven into its current state of autonomy through the use of enlightened despotism (Kant, 1991) (Murphy, 1994). Kant’s views on the issue can be seen more clearly through his work titled Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose. Kant produced a paradoxical picture by expounding on the one hand that national liberation was only possible through enlightened despotism while ultimate autonomy rested entirely with the individual’s will to gain it (Williams, 1992). Kant recognised that history ensured that progress had to come in human affairs but Kant’s method of delineating the mechanism remains self-contradictory (Hampsher-Monk, 1993). Strangely he holds that liberation lies solely through ...Show more

Summary

Analysis of general theories of history Theory of history can be viewed as science of history that tends to not only document historical events but to inquire into the driving forces that caused these events. It explains how and why society evolved from the Stone Age into modern day world; and predicts its implications for the future along scientific reasoning…
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