The emergence of a sense of the past in Renaissance humanism gave rise to a new historical consciousness about the meaning of history and methods of historical enquiry. This book, originally published in 1986, provides an in-depth critical introduction to the historical thought of some of the most influential thinkers of Western culture, from Machiavelli’s reflections on history and power to the revolutionary intuitions of Giambattista Vico’s New Science of historical understanding, taking in Bodin, Montaigne, Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Newton, Leibniz and Bayle on the way.
Introduction: Medieval and Renaissance Harbingers of History 1. Machiavelli: History and Power 2. Bodin and Montaigne: Speculation and Introspection 3. Bacon: Towards a Science of Man 4. Hobbes: History and Reason 5. History and Philosophy on the Eve of the Enlightenment 6. Vico: The Harvest of Pre-Englightenment History. Postscript. Bibliography. Primary Texts. Secondary Studies.