THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY: With Reflections and Aphorisms by John William Miller

THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY: With Reflections and Aphorisms

Email this review


The philosophy of history is not much in vogue in philosophy circles in the US these days, and the relative neglect of historical reflection is one of the characteristics of our contemporary mind-set that bothers the late professor Miller most. (This is the third in a series--following The Paradox of Cause and The Definition of the Thing.) His ""reflections"" are couched in the sensibility of European idealist philosophy, with emphasis on the primacy of the will, On action as the initiator of history, and therefore on history as an arena of freedom. The preponderance of mathematical reasoning, and the couching of public discourse in the certitudes of mathematics deprives us not only of a sense of ""yesterday"" but also of a sense of freedom, since the awareness of change and contingency and the action that shapes them into history is necessary for our collective ability to confront the present and future. Although only a part of this volume is devoted to ""reflections and aphorisms,"" the whole structure is episodic rather than devoted to a sustained argument, with sections entitled ""Time and Immediacy,"" ""Memory and the Humanities,"" ""Cause,"" ""Purpose,"" etc. This format leads to much repetition of the basic themes, while the aphorisms sometimes fall flat. But especially if read randomly, Miller's dogged insistence on the centrality of history, conveyed in sometimes beautifully written passages, is a real antidote to the one-dimensionality of so much that passes for reflection.

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 1981
ISBN: 0393300609
Publisher: Norton