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History as the Story of Freedom

Philosophy in Intercultural Context

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Clark Butler

The purpose of this book is to advance responsible rehabilitation of the speculative philosophy of history. It challenges the idea popularized by thinkers such as and Claude Lévi-Strauss and Jean-François Lyotard that historical meta-mythology and meta-narrative are philosophically obsolete. As long as humanity, viewed anthropologically, lives by over-arching narrative, the quest for a version that survives rational criticism remains vital. Here human rights serve as the key to unlock such a version. Despite the fact that the Hegelian philosophy of history has often been derided, something very similar currently functions as the official ideology of the world community: the idea of history as the story of freedom. This book does not retell the world-historical story of freedom. Rather, it uncovers it, beginning with the current age of human rights and working backward through the great role-model civilizations of history. Its conclusion is that a forward retelling of the story of freedom as the story of human rights can be justified by dewesternizing the story. The book contains critical responses from specialized scholars and re-presentative of selected world cultures. The volume includes illustrations, and a guest Afterword by Donald Phillip Verene. It is a companion-volume to the author's Hegel's Logic: Between History and Dialectic (North-western University Press, 1996).