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Philosophy of history: AC Grayling surveys the essential literature from Thucydides to Popper

By AC Grayling   December 1996

There is an ambiguity in the word “history.” It either means past events, or writings about past events. But what if the former is a creation of the latter? The past, after all, has ceased to exist. Here in the present we find objects which, we suppose, have survived from the past, and we weave narratives around them. These objects, and our interpretations of them, belong to the present. If history exists as different narratives constructed in the present, is it any wonder that historians disagree so much among themselves?

The idea that the past is another country which we…

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