Chapter 3. History as the Story of Liberty
Croce takes up his reflections on history in 1938, twenty-two years after Teoria e storia della storiografia, with La storia come pensiero e come azione,1 rendered into English as History as the Story of Liberty. In this work, the issue of history is examined from the point of view of the relation between history and practical action, which Croce defines in the Preface (Avvertenza):
The relation between historiography and practical action is that … dialectical process whereby historical thought is born from a labor of practical passion, transcends it by freeing itself in the pure judgment of truth and, by means of this judgment, passion is converted in resoluteness of action. (SPA 7)
In order for practical passion to be converted into action, it is necessary to understand what Croce means by “pure” judgment. It means, first, that a history book cannot be judged either as literature or as rhetoric (eloquenza), or according to a principle of verisimilitude, or according to the exactness of the facts that it offers, or whether it has an impact on the imagination (SPA 10). The only criterion of “pure” judgment is that it must conform to its own nature, to its historicity, just as a book of poetry is judged uniquely according to its poeticity. Croce defines historicity as an act of understanding which must first free itself of all doubts and uncertainties that can stand in the way of a transition to action:
And historicity can be...
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