<p>Note: this article concerns the discipline of intellectual history, and not its object, the whole span of human thought since the invention of writing. For clarifications about the latter topic, please consult the writings of the intellectual historians listed here and entries on individual thinkers.
Intellectual history refers to the history of human thoughts in written form. This history cannot be considered without the knowledge of the men and women who created, discussed, wrote about and in other ways were concerned with ideas. Intellectual history is closely related to the history of philosophy and the history of ideas. Its central premise is that ideas do not develop in isolation from the people who create and use them and that one must study ideas not as abstract propositions but in terms of the culture, lives and historical contexts that produced them.
Intellectual history aims to understand ideas from the past by understanding them in context. The term 'context' in the preceding sentence is ambiguous: it can be political, cultural, intellectual and social. One can read a text both in terms of a chronological context (for example, as a contribution to a discipline or</p>