History and Theory 11 (3):321-334 (1972)

Our contact with men of distant lands has made possible the notion of universal history. All societies are members of the same human civilization, though at different stages in its development. From the small sum of known past events the universal historian selects only those whose influence on contemporary life has been essential and readily discernible, and moves backward in time toward the origins. This produces an aggregate of world-changes which fit together only in a disconnected and fortuitous way. But his philosophical understanding transforms the aggregate into a coherent whole: the unity of the laws of physical and human nature allows him to infer backward to phenomena which had been left hidden or unrecorded. The universal historian transplants his reasoned harmony into the nature of things, a teleological principle into the course of world history. This elevates our every deed to immortality in the progression toward human perfectibility
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DOI 10.2307/2504683
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