ABSTRACT

Scientific theories, such as the theory of natural selection, or the general theory of relativity, are designed to explain and predict natural phenomena. The influential American historian, Hayden White, used to say that “Those historians who draw a firm line between history and the philosophy of history fail to recognize that every historical discourse contains within it a full-blown, if only implicit, philosophy of history.” Science and history are not disciplines at war with one another. Big history, especially in the way it is taught, ignores these considerations. It acts as if there is a single scientific method that everyone has agreed upon. Epistemological obstacles are deeply internalized ways of thinking about reality that obstruct greater clarity of thought. Big history has a lot of them. Faith in a unified, objective science is big history’s imaginative vision. It integrates and stabilizes professional activity, verifies procedures, purges preconceptions, insures solidarity, defends the borders, and guards against lawlessness and chaos.