Bradley, Francis Herbert (1846–1924)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC008-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved March 07, 2021, from

2. Philosophy of history

Bradley’s first publication was the pamphlet ‘The Presuppositions of Critical History’ (1874). Though perhaps the earliest major theoretical study in English of the notion of historical fact, it had little impact at the time, but the kind of position it takes has been subsequently influential, especially in religious studies. Bradley’s acknowledged sources were German historians of the origins of Christianity, but his position resembles that of Hume on miracles in its scepticism concerning astonishing historical reports. The question raised by Bradley’s argument – by what criterion should the credibility of historical testimony be judged? – stimulated the reflections of such philosophers as R.G. Collingwood. This essay provides a good introductory sample of Bradley’s writing: characteristic in its highly-charged style, frequent obscurity and disdain of example, it also anticipates some of his later holistic themes, for example, the fallibility of any individual judgment and the rejection of correspondence notions of truth.

Citing this article:
Candlish, Stewart. Philosophy of history. Bradley, Francis Herbert (1846–1924), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC008-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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