History, The Sciences, and Uniqueness

Part of the Tulane Studies in Philosophy book series (TUSP, volume 18)


In our universities, separate departments of history and of the various sciences attest in practice to the distinction between history and the sciences.1 The ease with which practice appears to distinguish disciplines is not readily transferred to the delineating of theoretical differences. Generally, theoretical differentiations have been drawn from two major philosophical positions. One view, usually that of philosophical idealism, maintains that differences are found in the objects and the methods of the study. The other view does not admit these distinctions and suggests that differences lie with the objectives of the researcher.


Conceptual Scheme Main Character Limited Generalization Historical Narrative Concrete Event 
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  1. 1.
    In the context of this essay, the term history” will mean written accounts of the past.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (New York, 1956 ), pp. 213–217.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibid., p. 302.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Karl Popper, The Poverty of Historicism (New York, 1964), p. 158 and Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York, 1933), p. 35.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Collingwood, pp. 300–302.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Collingwood, p. 287.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ibid., pp. 304–305.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    “The Problem of Uniqueness in History” first appeared in History and Theory, I (1961), pp. 150–162. The essay is also reprinted in Philosophical Problems: An Introductory Book of Readings which is edited by Maurice Mandelbaum and others. The quotations from the article by Joynt and Rescher will be taken from History and Theory.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Joynt and Rescher, p. 150.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Joynt and Rescher, p. 150.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ibid., p. 154.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid., p. 158.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Joynt and Rescher, pp. 157–158.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Arthur Danto, Analytical Philosophy of History (Cambridge, 1965), pp. 107–III.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Joynt and Rescher, p. 152.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    W. H. Walsh, Philosophy of History: An Introduction (New York), 1960), pp. 59–64.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Morton White, Foundations of Historical Knowledge ( New York, 1965), Chapter VIGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    W. B. Gallie, Philosophy and Historical Understanding (New York, 1964), Chapters 2-4.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Danto, p. 236.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Aristotle, On Poetry and Style, trans. G. M. A. Grube (New York, 1958), p. 53.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Danto, p. 236.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard, The Rise of American Civilization (New York, 1929), Vol. II, pp. 5–6.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    James Ford Rhodes, Lectures on the American Civil War (New York, 1913), pp. 41–44.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Beard and Beard, pp. 10–13.Google Scholar

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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1969

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