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The Shape of the PastA Philosophical Approach to History$
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Gordon Graham

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780192892553

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192892553.001.0001

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(p.141) Recurrence
The Shape of the Past

Gordon Graham

Oxford University Press

According to the philosopher Lurcretius, ‘Some races wax and other wane’. The history of the world, at any one point in its past, has seen remarkable civilizations of which there is hardly any trace left now. The 18th-century philosophers of history J. G. Herder's views on historical recurrence are also discussed in this chapter. According to him historical discontinuity means that it is inappropriate for one culture to pass judgment on another. The belief that the past consists of discrete cultural episodes does not exclude the possibility that these episodes have a common structure. The conception explored in this chapter is sometimes referred to as historical cycles.

Keywords:   recurrence, Lurcretius, civilizations, J. G. Herder, historical discontinuity, cultural episodes

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