Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Since the late seventeenth century a lively debate has been in progress concerning the worth of history. Although professional historians no longer abuse their credit with the public, which as ceased seriously to question their veracity, the debate goes on. This historical Pyrrhonism of the seventeenth century was no based upon irresponsible skepticism; the fables, folk legends, and pure inventions preserved in the histories of the period had reduced history to a mere art form. The subsequent attempt to correct this situation, through it produced a reliable body of information, has tened to reduce history to a narrow objectivity that scarcely dares think for itself. Thus Voltaire remarked, with more moderation than he usually addressed to the subject, "The qualification in which historians are commonly defective is a true philosophical spirit..." For Voltaire, "true" philosophy begins with Bacon and Locke; hence the "true philosophy begins with Bacon and Locke; hence the "truce philosophical spirit' of which he wrote is the scientific spirit.
Johnson, K. Martin, "An inquiry into the effect of the intellectual revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries on the coming of the French Revolution" (1962). Student Work. 404.
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