Truth, Morality, and Meaning in History
Published: February 2019© 2019
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Series: UTP Insights
Page Count: 160 Pages
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
160 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.40 in
In this important new book, Paul T. Phillips argues that most professional historians – aside from a relatively small number devoted to theory and methodology – have concerned themselves with particular, specialized areas of research, thereby ignoring the fundamental questions of truth, morality, and meaning. This is less so in the thriving general community of history enthusiasts beyond academia, and may explain, in part at least, history’s sharp decline as a subject of choice by students in recent years.
Phillips sees great dangers resulting from the thinking of extreme relativists and postmodernists on the futility of attaining historical truth, especially in the age of "post-truth." He also believes that moral judgment and the search for meaning in history should be considered part of the discipline’s mandate. In each section of this study, Phillips outlines the nature of individual issues and past efforts to address them, including approaches derived from other disciplines. This book is a call to action for all those engaged in the study of history to direct more attention to the fundamental questions of truth, morality, and meaning.
4. History Beyond the Academy
"Phillips's book is not a thundering polemic but, rather, a quiet, reasoned meditation. [...] The author is generally an erudite guide, and he packs a great many observations as to the history and philosophy of history into 134 pages of text."Alan MacHeachern, Western University, University of Toronto Quarterly
"In discussing history beyond the academy, Paul T. Phillips reveals the difficulty of maintaining high standards in a post-truth era."Anthony Brundage, Department of History, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
"Truth, Morality, and Meaning in History is a somewhat personalized reflection on the state of the current historical profession from an accomplished practitioner after retiring from academia. Arguing that there has been an emptying of higher meaning, morality, and even the questioning of absolute truth in the writing of history, this book calls for a return to the consideration of the philosophy of history among historians themselves, and provides a theistic challenge to existing historiography."Stephen Heathorn, Department of History, McMaster University