Philosophy of history is the application of philosophical conceptions and analysis to history in both senses, the study of the past and the past itself. Like most branches of philosophy its intellectual origins are cloudy, but they lie in a refinement of ‘sacred’ histories, especially those of Judaism and Christianity. The first major philosopher to outline a scheme of world history was Immanuel Kant in The Idea of a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View (1784), and German Idealism also produced Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of World History (1837 ), a much longer and more ambitious attempt to make philosophical sense of the history of the world as a whole. According to Hegel, history is rational, the working out, in fact, of philosophical understanding itself.

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