Conservatism and History
This introductory chapter provides an overview of Joseph de Maistre's historical thought. For Maistre, history was a moral force, the vehicle of Providence, the site for the accumulation of experience, and the tool for discovering what humanity actually is. It was a nearly total means of explanation, guided by a God who was a source of illumination. Maistre also entertained a set of assumptions about the social and psychological effects of historical evidence that resulted in a distinctive means of deploying historical facts for the purposes of philosophical and political contention. His writings expounded that history is the standard of social, political, and moral truth; that this truth can be expressed in a myriad particular and historically contingent ways; and that history itself develops toward the good through set stages and according to set causes.
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