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|Title: ||The historical imagination of Christopher Dawson|
|Authors: ||Sproviero, Glen A.|
|Supervisors: ||Bentley, Michael J.|
|Issue Date: ||Nov-2008|
|Abstract: ||Christopher Dawson (1889-1970) was one of his generation's most
important historians and religious thinkers, and was a significant
influence on many contemporaries including T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis,
and Russell Kirk. This dissertation is a study of his most
fundamental ideas concerning history and culture.
Chapter one examines Dawson’s sociological view of history.
Convinced that history was more than a scientific enterprise, he
believed that the true historian is one who reaches beyond the
material world to understand the essence of history’s dynamics. In
this way, the world can be conceptualized as a united whole,
separated by regional differences as a result of environment, race,
material, psychological, and religious factors. Dawson believed
that the political histories of the past several centuries failed to
grasp the undercurrents of historical change, and that the best way
to understand the past is to appreciate culture as an expression of
primeval religious traditions.
Chapter two treats Dawson’s understanding of progress. Dawson
was convinced that progress had become the “working-religion” of our
age. This secular faith, founded on scientific rationalism, first
pledged to fix the material failures of Western culture, but
unwittingly eroded its faith in God, and eventually, its moral
fiber. Dawson believed that true progress was progress of the soul
in its ordering toward the Creator.
Chapter three is a study of Dawson’s Christian, and more
specifically, his Catholic beliefs. Informed by religion, his
historical and cultural visions are not dogmatic, nor are they
polemical. He conceived of history as the unfolding of a divine
economy in the temporal world. Although Dawson is a proponent of
Roman Catholicism, his scholarship is an objective treatment of
history shaped by an undisguised, Christian worldview.
Additionally, the appendix is an introduction to Dawson’s life
and the circumstances surrounding his conversion to Roman
Catholicism. Particular attention is paid to the development of his
moral and historical imagination — both of which became intertwined to
form the basis of all of his scholarship.|
|Publisher: ||University of St Andrews|
|Appears in Collections:||Modern History Theses|
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