A Thomistic Philosophy of History

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American Catholic Philosophical Association


Men have aiways feIt that their lives were conditioned by the actions of other men. No matter how far the curtain is lifted from the hidden past, human hopes, fears, joys and sins are seen to be explained and elaborated in terms of the activity oi other human beings.

As they have become more actively rational, men have attempted to reduce these individual, contingent, relational activities to some universal intelligibility. If the human situation was to be interpreted in terms of cosmic forces whose effects alone could be experienced, then these terrible operative influences were personalized in natural religions; myth explained their behavior as it interpreted their causality. In a more humanistic atmosphere, such as in that of ancient Greece, it was to be expected that the explanation would lay increasing responsibility upon human conduct for human affairs; and the great histories of this social culture bear witness to such progressive anthropocentric interpretations. Horner and Hesiod give way before Herodotus who in turn gives way to Thucydides and Polybius. Myth disappears first into history and finally beneath history.