PHIL 3015 Philosophy of History

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 102493

Coordinator Jennifer Mensch Opens in new window

Description What is History? This question has been an object of inquiry as much for philosophers as for historians themselves. Large historical forces were at work in the Enlightenment--both in the sciences and in politics--and philosophers like Rousseau and Kant sought to understand these movements philosophically. For Rousseau, the lens was genealogical as he worked to produce a "natural history" of politics and society; for Kant, the historical lens was teleological as he narrated instead a philosophical history full of notions of progress and improvement. In the 19th century, philosophers like Hegel and Marx were concerned to think about history as a dialectical movement, while Nietzsche applied Darwin's new theory of evolution to his understanding of history and morals alike. The great shockwaves wrought by the two World Wars of the 20th century brought new philosophical writers to the problem of history, though now with an eye back toward the seemingly failed vision of inevitable progress so successfully peddled by the Enlightenment. This philosophical tradition and its changing approaches to history will be the focus of this unit.

School Humanities & Comm Arts

Discipline Philosophy

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 4 10cp

Check your fees via the Fees page.

Level Undergraduate Level 3 subject


Successful completion of 60 credit points of study in currently enrolled program.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Indentify major philosophical approaches to history
  2. Analyse primary texts from the philosophy of history
  3. Understand the major concepts at work in the philosophy of history
  4. Apply basic philosophical analyses to historical events and issues

Subject Content

The claims of philosophical world history
The idea of world historical individuals
The moral advancement of humankind
Teleological approaches to the rise and decline of cultures
Hermeneutical issues with respect to interpreting the past


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Short Answer 1 hour 20 N Individual
Intra-session Exam 1,500 words 40 N Individual
Essay 2,500 words 40 N Individual

Prescribed Texts

  • Subject Reader