Message-ID: <>
Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 12:28:45 -0600
Sender: history ISU Department of History Discussion List
From: J Newgard <jenewga@ILSTU.EDU>
Organization: Illinois State University
Subject: (no subject)

The Threshold of History

Student paper by John Newgard, History 296, 24 January 1999

To achieve Enlightenment, the thought that human nature was not uniform and unchanging had to be tossed out and historians had to look at history with a more sympathetic view. Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803), a German philosopher and literary critic was the first to pioneer this new way of thinking. Rulers who had absolute power, the despot, arrested him. This allowed the, French philosopher and naturalist, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–78), to rise up to be the father of the Romantic Movement. These philosophers had the philosophy that people need to be free from totalitarian style systems and rulers

The Romantics are like the Whig scholars, who also used rational, (if I am not mistaken) of the United Kingdom viewed British history as a slow and gradual process. One event leads into another event and with the whole process can be seen to fallow a pattern. The pattern in British History as the Whig scholars saw it was the freedom of the people started in June 15, 1215 with the Magna Carta, to the Glorious Revolution and is continuing today with the reform of the House of Lords.

Karl Marx, was a German philosopher who believed that the economic system of the industrial revolution was exploiting the workers. Using rational thinking he saw that like the move from absolute power to more limited power of the nobles and monarchy, the next reforms would be economic where the workers would have more and more power over the aristocrats. He pushed for a system of complete dominance of the workers. Where the workers were their own boss and owned the factories and got a equal portion of the profits.

This style of thinking slowly died out in the 20th century. World War I put an end to “rational” thought of history. With 10 million dead on the battlefield, historians began to think of history in a different way. If history was so rational how come so many died. After the war was over the light of “rational” history went dark.