Homework Help

Is History more preferred to Philosophy? Please reason.

user profile pic

arjun | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted April 25, 2013 at 7:03 AM via web

dislike 1 like

Is History more preferred to Philosophy? Please reason.

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 25, 2013 at 7:53 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

That's actually a difficult one to answer as both subjects complement one another.

Philosophy deals with logical argument in a systematic way, using critical thinking to guide the philosopher towards a rational solution to a question about the nature of things.

In history there is a need to surmise regarding certain events or circumstances though based on factual evidence. Sometimes history tells us what IS true.

History cannot deny the facts but sometimes the facts do not provide enough information and logical induction and deduction must intervene. A good historian requires analytical skill. To provide the most accurate account of the origin of an artifact, for example, a historian would take all his factual knowledge and combine it with the most rational perspective. Thus he uses evidence and reasoning.

There will always be more than one possible interpretation and theoretical suppositions will encourage debate in history.  There is a scientific element to history that is crucial to its authenticity.  In history, the objective and theoretical elements combine to create two distinct but entwined aspects of the discipline.

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 14, 2013 at 8:41 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 1 like

The answer to this is almost completely in the “eye of the beholder.”  For most people, history is preferable to philosophy.  However, this is not true for all people and it is not objectively true.

Personally, I would argue that history is preferable to philosophy for two main reasons.  First, history is much more tangible.  It is much easier for the average person to grasp the ideas of history than to grasp the ideas of philosophy.  Even if history is sometimes seen as a series of hard-to-remember names and dates (which is not what history should be), it is still going to be easier to understand than the idea of Platonic forms or the doctrine of monism.  Second, history can, arguably, tell us more about the human condition than philosophy can.  Philosophy can engage in conjecture about what human beings are, but it does not offer ways to test its suppositions (other than in thought experiments in the philosopher’s head).  History, by contrast, offers a broad range of human experience against which to test our theories.  It offers ways to generalize about what human beings are fundamentally like.

For these reasons, I prefer history to philosophy.  However, this does not mean that my opinions are in any way objectively preferable to anyone else’s.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes