Shedd on History as development

'It is simpler to say that History is permanent without progress, or else that it is progressive with out permanence, than to say that it is a true development and therefore both permanent and progressive. The extremists upon both sides have a much easier task than the one who occupies the central postion between them. A simple idea is much easier to define and manage than a complex one. But it is not so fertile, so prolific, or so completely true. If simplicity and facility of management were all that the philosopher has to care for, the great comprehensive ideas of science would soon disappear; for they are neither uncomplex nor facile. 'The simplest of governments,' says Webster while defending the excellent complexity of republicanism, 'is a despotism.' The simplest of theories is the theory of an extremist.'

W.G.T. Shedd, Lectures upon the Philosophy of History (Andover: Warren F. Draper, 1861), 37.



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