Internal History versus External History

Philosophy 92 (2):207-230 (2017)
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to generalize a pair of concepts that are widely used in the history of science, in art history and in historical linguistics – the concept of internal and external history – and to replace the often very vague talk of ‘historical narratives’ with this conceptual framework of internal versus external history. I argue that this way of framing the problem allows us to see the possible alternatives more clearly – as a limited number of possible relations between internal and external history. Finally, I argue that while external history is metaphysically prior to internal history, when it comes to historical explanations, we need both.

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Bence Nanay
University of Antwerp

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