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Is There a Purpose to History?

Jason Kuznicki joins us this week. What is the subject matter of history? How was it chosen?

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Jason Kuznicki, a research fellow at the Cato Institute and editor of Cato Unbound, joins Aaron and Trevor to discuss historicism: the idea that historical forces work to determine the ideas and values of individuals, and that as a result, historical trends have a direction or purpose to them.

To understand a person or event in history, you need to look at their historical context. That’s not so crazy all by itself—it’s actually pretty reasonable. But the trouble starts when historicist thinking begins to deny individual agency. Not always—but very often—historicism is at odds with methodological individualism.