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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: What Is History? The World of Historiography
Thread: What Is History? The World of Historiography
Cat
Cat


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Gonna Get Dirrty...
posted June 25, 2002 05:04 PM

What Is History? The World of Historiography

An examination of history, especially historiography, with is one of my pet enjoyments.  Firstly a definaition of history is of course nescessary.

The common explaination is that History is the past and historians are hose who study history.  However, among historians themselves this has lead to many harsh debates, not all carried out with acceptable language for this forum.

History, according to John Warren, is not te past as it is written, but the past in itself.  Sure, you say, I kow that. Actually, it is likely you know little but the words of historians throughout the ages.  If you know about Hitler, it is likely you have read the words of Kershaw.  So, in fact here is no such thing of history in terms of the past, rather history in terms of what is written about the past.

E.H Carr argues that the answer tothis question is contingent to he time in which we live in and the influences over our lives... that the exact definition of history is in fact a personal perception.  Now, for my personal perception...

The view of History that I subscribe to is that of "Total History" as put forward by the Annales school of writing.

The Annales Historians, the most instantly recognied being Bloch, Febvre, Braudel and Ladurie, is a turn away from "event centred" history and the obsession with the works of "great men" and "individual genius" which still populates history today.

The Annales historians did not study the "historical" sources (ie, politics and tactics) alone for their works, but also sociology, geography and lingustics.  They argued that history was not based on "great events" and "great men" but on the structures underpining these evens.

The most famous works to have come directly out of the Annales school were Braudel's Mediterranean and Ladurie's Montaillou.  In Mediterranean, Braudel uses the sea as his central focus.  The book was divided into three parts, the first part focusing on the new disipline of "geo-history" or the way in which geological features underpin all other history.  Mountains, for example, shape cultures and attitudes.

The second section of Mediterranean concentrates on econmic systems, states, societies, availibility of raw materials... the key reasons, often, for much warfare.  A history of structures.

Te third and final section of Mediterranean is he traditional view of great individuals and great events.  His section is actually a great deal ore lacklustre than the others as it is simply there to "give a hearing" to traditional history.

Braudel demanded that the historian consider time in a different way.  Time is not uniform, and nor should history be so.  There is geographial time, social time and individual time, all mixed together to form and historical period or event.  Braudel attached the greatest significance to geogrphical and social time or la longue duree.. the long term changes.  "Total history" is an attempt to combine all these aspects.

Ladurie's Montaillou also favours the social and geographical approach to history.  It documents the spread of he Cathar "heracy" along the paths of the shepards which populated Montauillou as well as a detailed examination of he life and times of the village.  Ladurie actaully takes the "words" of the villagers out of the interrigation records he examined to aide his creation of living history.

Annales history virtually took over the historical establishment- a base form can be found in GCSE history in the United Kingdom.  What began as a challange was able to validate itself and hold it's own.  Possibly the best interpreation of history i have seen is Braudel's "Total History", with it's many different facets.
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bort
bort


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Discarded foreskin of morality
posted June 25, 2002 06:02 PM

I don't know, maybe I'm just being a contrarian here, but I'd argue that history IS what historians write.  History is the narrative, the story, the biases and the preconceptions.  I think that's why we have terms like "prehistoric" which means before written records (sort of like the tree falling in the forest -- if a thousand tons of flaming rock drops on a dinosaur and nobodies around to write it down, does it make history?).  If it's not colored by human perceptions, its not history, its just record keeping and cartography.  For instance - the Holocaust is not X million jews, gypsies and other "undesirables" killed in Central Europe, it's sobbing children being dragged from their parents, innocents being baked alive in ovens and -- great men and women risking themselves to protect the victims and great (in a much different sense of the word) men and women plotting to kill them more efficiently.  The pyramids being built is not slaves 1-1000 quarrying, 1001-1500 shipping rock down the nile 1501-3000 erecting (tee-hee!) a bloody great tomb set against the backdrop of a floodplain, its a great(?) man's delusions of immortality and a bunch of priests methods for controlling the populace.  Tribe A fighting tribe B isn't history because nobody wrote about it, but every tiny battle in world war II because people told the story.  The past isn't history, it's just stuff that happened.

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Xenophanes
Xenophanes


Promising
Famous Hero
Chief Consul to Queen Mutare
posted June 25, 2002 06:19 PM

History is, in a way, told by the writers and recorders of it. It has been shown, by countless experiments, that everyone remembers certain events slightly differently.

A college professor, before one of his classes, hired a man to run in with a fake gun, yell out, "Your money or you're life?!" grab the professor's wallet, and run out again. When the porfessor asked his class what had just happened, even only five seconds after, everyone had different answers. Some said that the man had said, "Your wallet or your life?" or "Should I take your money or your life?" Other students debated what the man was wearing, if he had had a gun, if he had held it up to the professor, etc. At the end, the professor told his students exactly what had happened according to the script he had given the man ahead of time. None of the students remembered "correctly."

If we apply this to history, take the Boston Massacre, for example. It is still a hotly debated topic on what exactly happened. (although, I have a tirade I can go on against teaching American History, but I'll do that later)

Also, in response to what Cat said about History being recorded by some as marked by Great individuals or achievements, I disagree. The unfortunate truth is that we as humans record history by war. Who was in power. Who killed who. What civilization conquered the Israelites at what time. When the Romans attacked the Gauls.

Human nature is to remember everything differently, and then remember only war.
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Djive
Djive


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Zapper of Toads
posted June 25, 2002 07:17 PM

History is whatever you want it to be.

For each individual history is made up by the current knowledge that person have about events that have happened in the past.

So to a certain extent each person decides what is history by what they read and learn.

This is limited by things going out of history. That is: lore which is forgotten and cannot be recovered. On an individual level it would also include lore which you are not allowed to access. (Say for security reasons.)

History is mostly written by those who win wars, and those who have power. Generations who come after will see things from the point of view of the victors, or at least they are more likely to see things that way. Reason is simply that the people who lost the war often were exterminated and the lore of their culture were banned and destroyed.

You could say that history is written differently now than it was before.

"Old" history has been written mostly by the ruling class and to some extent by innovators and explorers, and others who were able to read and write, like priests. If we look at what sources remain from old days. What do we have?
-Laws and important legal documents.
-Legends and Poetry and other things written.
-Paintings and other artistic works.
-Bookkeeping to keep track of people and what happened to them.

"Modern" history tend to be written in another way because information is much more accessible, and we can expect it to be kept for a much longer time.

An intersting question is in 1000 years, what will be commonly known to have happened in the 20th century?

The first trip to the Moon? Probably.
The invention and further developement of transistors? Probably.
WWI and WWII? Perhaps, but likely not. (People tend to remember recent wars. These may be forgotten and become obscure lore. Just as I don't know the first War where say the Cannon was used without consulting other work, people will not know that nuclears was first used in WWII in a few centuries. Specialists will on the other hand know for quite some time to come.)
Which rulers will be remembered from the 20th century?
-Mao? (Perhaps but probably not.)
-Lenin? (Perhaps but probably not.)
-WWII rulers? (Some of them will not be forgotten easily.)
-US Presidents and in that case who?
-Kings/Queens? (Doubtful.)

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Cat
Cat


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Gonna Get Dirrty...
posted June 25, 2002 09:53 PM

Another thought is can good biography be good history?  In essence no, as biography is the study of one person not many.

But by the study of "great individuals", I mean the study of, say, WWII through Stalin, Hitler and their generals rather than in the sense which Anthony Bever shows in in his book, Stalingrad which is based more to the centre of the streetfighting, snipers and disiplines of the Romanian and Italian armies.  Just some examples.

By contrast, Djive, history being whatever you want it to be is close but not quite.  A look at the recent trial of David Irving shows this in bold point.  Irving argued that Auschwitz was an "elaborate Russian hoax" and the holocaust did not happen on the grounds that their is no documentation.  Although this was what he wanted it to be, and he could find sources and evidence, this claim was preposterous, and he was rightfully sued.

The idea that history is merely the propaganda of he winners is however well supported.  Stalin during world war two is written into history as a hero, as this is a period when he was fighting on the side of the Allied forces and maintaining the second front.  However, in the after math known as The Cold War, Stalin is shown as a villian:- but this time, Russia was on he loosing side.  But I think this is too recent.

A better examination is the case of Richard III of England, known as the man who arranged the killing of the princes in the tower, a monster; according to Thomas Moore.
Moore, however, was writing some 30 years after Richards death, claiming eye witness status (he was 8 at the time) and had in reality attained most of his "evidence" from the memoires of a priest who hated Richard.

In reality, it appears Richard was a considerate king, loved by his poplace.  It is also interesting to note that when a list of crimes were drawn up, with anything he had the remotest possibility of doing amongst them, te murder of his nephews was not on it.

To Bort:- surely though, the fossilised evidence we have is also "history"?  Also, in cultures where there was no language or official records as we would see it before european expansion, do you consider them to have no history or even no existnce?
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Oldtimer
Oldtimer


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Please leave a message after..
posted June 25, 2002 11:15 PM

History is the shaping of how we see the world and our culture's place in it.  If you look at american history you start in the age of discovery with heroic figures like Columbus, and the Conquestadors and the english colonials etc.  We praise their bravery and adventures. but we don't look at the plight of the precolumbian civilizations that they destroyed through disease and conquest.

When I used to play cowboys and indians, it was always the calvary riding to the rescue and killing the bloodthirsty savage.

When we think of the revolution it is heroic minutemen fighting the oppessive redcoat.

But the reality of the situation and the "common" history sometimes just don't fit together.  Cultures need mythic figures to help teach youngsters the values of the culture.  We need Geo. Washington cutting down the cherry tree.  They are important to the psyche of society, weather or not the "common" history actually reflects factual history is of little import, except for some of us history buffs who love the true story and the legend.
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Djive
Djive


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Zapper of Toads
posted June 26, 2002 11:57 AM

"By contrast, Djive, history being whatever you want it to be is close but not quite.  A look at the recent trial of David Irving shows this in bold point.  Irving argued that Auschwitz was an "elaborate Russian hoax" and the holocaust did not happen on the grounds that their is no documentation.  Although this was what he wanted it to be, and he could find sources and evidence, this claim was preposterous, and he was rightfully sued."

The history of an individual or even of a collective of indiviudals is not necessarily true. In these cases it's possible for an individual having a different perception of history than many others.

Not having read about David Irving, I can't say if he really believed his own version of the story. And even if the court ruled against him some persons will not accept the court ruling for fair or true. The populace in general would on the ohter all the time have known that the holocaust did occur, and the trial hopefully convinced some of those who didn't think it happened.

A person who's incorrectly convicted of a crime (s)he didn't commit, will have a more correct view of this particular part of history than the populace at large. A more common thing is escapegoats who are blamed, framed and sometimes even voluntarily take the blame, because another greater cause is to be saved and you want to save someone else.

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bort
bort


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Discarded foreskin of morality
posted June 26, 2002 04:50 PM bonus applied.

Quote:

To Bort:- surely though, the fossilised evidence we have is also "history"?  Also, in cultures where there was no language or official records as we would see it before european expansion, do you consider them to have no history or even no existnce?


I don't really think that the fossil record is really history.  The interpretations of paleontologists and archeologists are the history.  It's like this - you dig up a partial tyrannasaurus rex skeleton.  What does that mean?  The only thing it means is that there once was a tyrannasaurus rex skeleton lying under several tons of rock.  From the "just the facts, ma'am" school of history, it wouldn't tell you anything about geography, behavior, population density, etc.  The only thing you have is what a historian (in this case, in the form of a paleontologist) making interpretations such as "there appear to be bite marks along the bones.  This tyrannasaurus died in a fight."  (when it could just as easily meant that the tyrannasaurus died of natural causes, surrounded by his loving grandchildren and his flesh was stripped to the bone by scavengers).  I think the fact that the history of dinosaurs and other members of the fossil record is the product of what people write about them is evidenced by the way, in my lifetime atleast, the T-rex has gone from "great lumbering cold blooded lizard" to "swift, bird-like killing machine a-la Jurassic Park" to "must have been a scavenger, it's leg muscles couldn't have propelled it faster that a slow walk."

Cultures without a written language that we can understand certainly had existence and history.  However, their version of history died with them, and we're left with the new version of history which is based on interpretations by archeologists.  For instance, those statues of big fat women that you find in stone age settlements are representations of the Earth Goddess.  Why?  Because archeologists say so.  They may have just been the equivalent of barbie dolls(well, at least the "proud to be me" barbie doll) or, maybe paleolithic men just got really turned on by big buttocked statues.  Since we basically don't have any real records from these cultures, their history has to be what we interpret it to be.

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Tommo
Tommo


Hired Hero
Has brains is dangerous.......
posted June 26, 2002 06:01 PM

Interistin History fact for June the 26th



1541 Conqueror of the Incas assassinated



Francisco Pizarro, the governor of Peru and conqueror of the Inca civilization, is assassinated in Lima by Spanish rivals.
The illegitimate son of a Spanish gentleman, Pizarro served under Spanish conquistador Alonso de Ojeda during his expedition to Colombia in 1510 and was with Vasco Nez de Balboa when he discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513. Hearing legends of the great wealth of the Incas in South America, Pizarro formed an alliance with fellow conquistador Diego de Almagro in 1524 and sailed back to the Americas. Their first expedition only penetrated as far as present-day Ecuador, but their second reached farther and discovered evidence of the existence of the Inca kingdom.
Securing aid from Emperor Charles V, and a guarantee that he, not Almagro, would receive the majority of the expedition's future profits, Pizarro sailed to Peru and landed at Tumbes in 1532. He led his army up the Andes Mountains to the Inca city of Cajamarca and met with Atahualpa, the king of the Inca kingdom of Quito. After winning his trust, Pizarro captured Atahualpa, exacted a room full of gold as ransom for his life, and then treacherously had him executed. The conquest of Peru came quickly to Pizarro and his army, and in 1533 Inca resistance came to an end with their defeat at Cuzco.
Pizarro, now the governor of Peru, founded new settlements, including Lima, and granted Almagro the conquest of Chile as appeasement for claiming the riches of the Inca civilization for himself. However, Pizarro failed to provide Almagro with all the land he had promised, and Almagro responded by seizing Cuzco in 1538. Pizarro sent his half brother, Hernando, to reclaim the city, and Almagro was defeated and put to death. Three years later, on June 26, 1541, a group hired by Almagro's former adherents penetrated Pizarro's palace and slew the conquistador while he was eating dinner. Shortly after his death, Diego el Monzo, Almagro's son, proclaimed himself governor of Peru.


can anybody tell me for 10 points, What school of history does this piece belong and why?
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Just tossing out seeds.

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eyepennies
eyepennies

Tavern Dweller
posted March 20, 2004 03:41 AM

Hello, I'm new but I thought that some of you (those interested in the nature of historiography) might find this interesting. It's a short thesis I wrote as an undergrad.

Are Historians able to arrive at an objective account of the past or is their explanation inevitably bound to a schema of history? Argue with particular and specific reference to historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Since the emergence of history as a professional discipline in the Nineteenth century, with the formulation of Barthold Georg Niebuhr and Leopold von Ranke's contribution of philological-critical method, History had been regarded as a science rather then a historic literary tradition. The emergence of scepticism and the questioning of the possibility of an objective history has posed a serious philosophical challenge to the study of the past. The arguments that have arisen since the emergence of scepticism question the ability of the Historian to arrive at an objective account of the past and challenge the notion of a discipline of history, relegating history to being a mere branch of literature as genuinely objective knowledge is not possible in history. By examining the theories and practices, particularly the argument between objectivists, scepticists, positivists and relativists, of a variety historians and philosopher practicing in the Nineteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries it can be established that while historic explanation is bound to a 'schema of history' it is possible for an historian to arrive at an objective account of the past depending on what definitions a historian or philosopher ascribes to 'historical understanding' and 'objectivity'.
Before continuing with this argument concise definitions of both 'history' and 'objectivity' must be established. If one defines 'the past' as 'everything in its near infinitude that happened in the past, entirely regardless of any actives by historians' as Marwick does, then 'history' is 'the accounts of the past provided by historians'1. For the purpose of this argument history can be known as the body of knowledge about the past created by historians. Defining 'objectivity' is more subjective however. In The Objectivity of History, John Passmore ascribes no less then eight criterions for objectivity2. A text book example of the definition of objectivity describes it as 'impartiality and respect for the truth in scholarship; lack of one-sidedness; conscientious regard for the critical standards of history as a discipline'3. Eric Hobsbawm stresses the objective of the historian is to make an attempt to 'not to get it wrong'; 'Historians are professionally obliged not to get it wrong - or at least to make an effort not to'4. For the purpose of this essay the a textbook definition will be used to refer to 'objectivity' as an impartial respect for truth in scholarship with conscientious regard for the critical standards of history as a discipline at most, or at least, as Hobsbawm says, an attempt 'not to get it wrong'.
In 1961 Aron wrote of 'objectivity' that
The idea of limits of objectivity may be understood in three different way. Either scientific propositions, beyond a certain extension, are no longer universally acceptable; or they are hypothetically objective, subject to a certain arbitrary selection verified by experiment; or finally, all history is both objective and subjective according to the laws of logic and probability, but project in favour of an individual or a period which for that very reason could not demand universal agreement.5
Scepticism regarding the objectivity of history, or the historians ability to arrive at an objective account of the past, had been based on considerations that the past is by definition gone and can never be the object of direct observation, such as in the natural of physical sciences, and that evidence regarding the past is fragmentary and often subjective. These criticism of an objective history were essentially formulated during antiquity and prevailed until the Nineteenth century when, with the formulation of the philological-critical method, history evolved into an academic profession claiming the status of a modern science. History, now modeled on the 'positivistic' ideals of natural science, formulated by Eighteenth and Nineteenth century thinkers, A.R.J. Turgot, Marquis Jean Antoine Condorcet, Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mills and John Bagnell Bury6, strove for impartiality, unanimous agreement, precision, certainty, and the progressive accumulation of knowledge7. Even so, many early professionals continued to acknowledge the contingent nature of their claims to truth.
Following the First World War doubts regarding the scientific nature of history resurfaced in the ideologies of historical "relativism"8, a form of scepticism that stresses the social conditioning of historians as barrier incapable of being over come, to the reconstruction of the past 'as it essentially happened'9. 'Subjectivity' became in essence an epistemological problem, relativists defining objectify as the 'noble' but impossible dream of attaining complete transpersonal knowledge of the past10. It is suggested that historical knowledge rests ultimately on the 'act of faith' of individual scholars thereby denying the possibility of criteria for assessing the truth value of historical accounts and reducing historical judgment to the status of taste, opinion and ideology11. Relativism challenged philosophers and historians to devise explicit definitions of objectivity and to mount rigorous arguments in their defense. Mandelbaum's and Aron's definition of objectivity became the basis of arguments upholding the cognitive worth of history outside of Germany12. Since 1945 the idea that history has a cognitive function, to which considerations of evidence and truth are central, has been fashioned in a more limited sense then prevailed in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries.
Objectivists accept many of the relativists theories regarding the limits of inquiry into the past but maintain that these points must not be over emphasised. The relativist definition of objectivity, they argue, is simply unreasonable in its demands and no field of learning can legitimately claim finality in such a manner that relativists demand, or even complete agreement among its practitioners. Finality and perfect agreement may be ideals to which sciences sometimes aspire, but they are never attained in practice13. Objectivists concede that history, as human inquiry into the past may indeed be more susceptible to social bias then natural sciences and that relativists were correct in refuting the possibility of perfect value neutrality in the social sciences. As stated above, objectivity can best be understood as an impartial respect for truth in scholarship with conscientious regard for the critical standards of history as a discipline, rather then the extreme and unrealistic sense of complete transpersonal knowledge of the past. Though it is impossible to know the whole truth about the entirety of the past as it actually happened it does not follow that logically responsible conclusions about particular aspects of the past can not be made. The fact that personal preference and social bias influence the historians selection and judgment in no way precludes the possibility of warranted explanations for the events he studies. History is not unique in being selective and evaluative the nature of any discipline dictates that "no scientist can study everything in his field he must select some aspect or problem, and in doing so, like the historian, he follows his interests and betrays his values"14.
The problem of the nature of the evidence provoke further argument into the nature of what an historian can understand of the past. Positivist, such as Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges, advocating a 'positivism of the document', theorise that what is not in the historians primary sources does not exist15, and that the historian should approach the evidence regarding the past as fragmentary. Evidence about significant portions of the past permit some historical knowledge to be formulated and suggests that historians may make warranted statements regarding those segments of the past and that where materials are lacking statements should not be made or if statements are made the grounds of judgment should not be given. While inter war relativism was based primarily on sociological and psychological consideration, objectivists build their defense on logical and methodological arguments. The adequacy of historical statements depends on their logical relationship to the evidence upon which they are supposedly founded. Emphasis shifts from the demands for certainty to the determination of what is reasonable to believe given methods available to historians, objectivist analysis involves showing that the historians have generally accepted standards or criteria in terms of which the attainment of knowledge about the past is reasonable. Walsh has referred to the 'perspective theory' viewpoint16, which asserts that what makes an objective mode of enquire is not so much that if faithfully reflects independent entities but that it has developed as standard way of thinking about its subject matter, thus its practitioners are, more or less, agreed in the leading assumptions they are to make about their material and the leading principles they are to adopt in dealing with it. According to this viewpoint what is necessary is that a discipline portray its subject matter squarely from its own perspective but not in any other manner17.
Undeniably, disagreements occur more frequently in historiography, which have nonetheless made possible a remarkable degree of agreement regarding the nature of human past. 'If the test of objectivity is that there are regular ways of settling issues by which men of whatever party can be brought to see what actually happened then I do not see how one can doubt the objectivity of history'18 states John Passmore. Within this frame work some theorists maintain that objectivity in history is best compared to the determination of truth in social sciences rather then the physical sciences.
The argument regarding the nature of historical explanation in social sciences contrast to scientific explanation regarding the natural sciences as addressed by relativists such as Dilthy who asserts that historians do not stand apart from objective reality to observe it. Dilthy argued that the historian observes a reality at least partly constructed in the process of observing. This becomes a matter of contention. While some philosophers and historians, such as Droysen in his Encyclopaedia and Methodology of History (1868), still argued the validity of the Reankean critical method, some historians found that Dilthy confirmed that history was merely a literary subject and as Trevelyan postulates, 'history is not a scientific deduction, but an imaginative guess at the most likely generalisations'19. It can be argued that history should neither be ascribed the title of 'science' or that of 'literary form' but that the notion of 'science' in the English language is incorrect and the nature of history is more correctly defined by the Latin scientia and that history should be regarded in English as a 'discipline' rather then a science. For the sake of this argument history and historical knowledge are regarded as professional disciplines20. The underlying differences between scientific evidence and historical evidence is matter of contention in asserting the possibility of an objective history. Scepticist theory criticises the nature of the historians evidence some, like Dance assert that there are no historical facts, that all history is basically flawed21, but most suggest that because of the nature historical sources and the historians inability to formulate scientific methods such as those used by natural scientists, objective history or even history are not possible.
Never the less the author of this essay still holds to the belief that an objective account of the past is possible. It is now imperative that an examination of historians and their work is examined. Ranke, 'the Father of the Modern Discipline of History', has been accused of being subjective in his practical work22. Ranke's idealist approach to history, believing that the historian could engage the mind of the past, raised questions about the possibility of the reality of achieving any form of objectivity, as Taylor states, 'impartiality gives a more dangerous bias then any other'23, but more questionable was Ranke's advocacy for the Prussian state that became manifest in political quietism24. Christopher Hill's study on the English Civil War is an excellent example of the historians ability to bypass personal bias to assess the period in a detached manner. In 1955, with a heavily Marxist view, Hill asserts that 'the English Revolution of 1640 ... was a struggle for political, economic and religious power, waged by the middle class, the bourgeoisie, which grew in wealth and strength as capitalism developed'25. While in this statement Hill reflects personal bias towards a Marxist interpretation he later finds this interpretation dissatisfactory in explaining some aspects of the revolution;
The importance of economic issues has been established; but we still have to find a synthesis which will take cognizance of this and yet give some explanation of why in 1640 not only P.M.s but a large number of other people thought bishops the main enemy; why there were so many conflicts before 1640 over the appointment of lecturers in town corporations; why, when the troops got drunk on a Saturday night in 1640, their animal spirits were worked off in the destruction of altar rails ... We also need far more understand of ideas, especially at the point where they interact with economics ... Finally, questions of religion and church government should not be 'left behind the door'. We must have a better explanation of their importance for contemporaries then the theory that Puritanism helps landowners to balance their income and expenditure, or encourages the bourgeoisie to grind the faces of the poor.26
Thus we find that the historian is, if not always, able to allay preconceived partiality to examine truth in an attempt 'not to get it wrong'.
Yes, history, as the 'the accounts of the past provided by historians' is bound by a schema of history but that does not exclude the possibility of an objective account of the past. While philosophers and historians theories over definitive definitions regarding the nature of 'history' and 'objectivity' historians are still able to examine the past through sources to gather information regarding any number of past events. Marwick's interpretation of the past and history, and Hobsbawm's assertion that the historian needs not to have transpersonal knowledge of the past but needs only to make an effort 'not to get it wrong' leaves room for an objective discipline of history.

Bibliography:
Appleby, J., Hunt, L. & Jacob, M. Telling the Truth about History. (London: W. W. Norton, 1994)
Aron, R. Introduction to the Philosophy of History: an essay on the limits of Historical Objectivity. (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1948)
Behan McCullagh, C. The Truth of History. (London: Routledge, 1998)
Behan McCullagh, C. Justifying Historical Descriptions. (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1984)
Bentley, M. Modern Historiography: An Introduction. London: Routledge, 1999.
Bentley, M. (Ed.). Companion to Historiography. (London: Routledge, 1997)
Bevir, Mark. 'Objectivity in History' in History and Theory. Vol. 33, (1994), pp.328-344.
Cannon, J. (Ed.). The Historian at Work. (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980)
Cook, C. (Ed.). Dictionary of Historical Terms : a guide to the main themes, events, cliques and innuendoes of over 1000 years of world history. (London: Macmillan, 1983.)
Dray, W. Philosophy of History. (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1964)
Dance, E. History the Betrayer: A Study in Bias. (London: Hutchinson, 1969)
Evans, R.J. In Defence of History. (London: Granta, 1997)
Fain, H. 'History as Science' in History and Theory, Vol. 9, No. 2. (1970), pp. 154-173.
Fay, B., Pomper, P., and Vann, R. (Eds.). History and Theory: Contemporary Readings. (Oxford: Blackwells, 1998)
Gardiner, P. (Ed.). Oxford Readings in Philosophy: The Philosophy of History. (Oxford: Oxford University, 1974)
Gilbert, F. History: Politics or Culture?: Reflections on Ranke and Burkhardt. (Princton: Princton University, 1990)
Gilley, S. 'History without morality, history without truth' in History Today, Vol, 46, No. 5.  (May 1996), pp. 11-
Graham, G. The Shape of the Past: a Philosophical Approach to History. (Oxford: Oxford University, 1997)
Halttunen, K. 'Self, subject, and the "barefoot historian"' in The Journal of American History, Vol 89, No. 1. (Jun 2002), pp. 20-24.
Haskell, T. Objectivity is Not Neutrality: Explanatory Schemes in History. (London: Johns Hopkins, 1998)
Iggers, G. The German Conception of History. (Middletown, Wesleyan University, 1968)
Iggers, G. New Directions in European Historiography. (Wesleyan University, 1984)
Iggers, G. & Parker, T. (Eds.). International Handbook of Historical Studies: Contemporary Research and Theory. (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1980)
Iggers, G. Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge. (London: Wesleyan University, 1997)
Jenkins, K. On What is History?: from Carr and Elton to Rorty and White. (London: Routledge, 1995)
Jenkins, K. (Ed.). The Postmodern History Reader. (London: Routledge, 1997)
Jenkins, K. Re-Thinking History. (London: Routledge, 1992)
Levich, M. 'Disagreement and Controversy' in History History and Theory, Vol. 2, No. 1. (1962), pp. 41-51.
Martin, R. Historical Explanation. (London: Cornell University, 1977)
Marwick, A. The Nature of History. (London: Macmillan, 1989)
Marwick, A. The New Nature of History: Knowledge, Evidence, Language. (Hampshire: Palgrave, 2001)
Munro, G. (Ed.). Hist308: Historiography and the Historian: Selected Readings Part 1. (Brisbane: Australian Catholic University, 2003)
Munro, G. (Ed.). Hist308: Historiography and the Historian: Selected Readings Part 2. (Brisbane: Australian Catholic University, 2003)
Novick, P. That Noble Dream: the "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession. (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1991)
Pork, A. 'History, Lying, and Moral Responsibility' in History and Theory, Vol. 29, No. 3. (Oct., 1990), pp. 321-330.
Ranke, L. The Secret of World History. (New York: Fordham University, 1981)
Salmon, L. Why is History Rewritten?. (New York: Oxford University, 1929)
Stanford, M. The Nature of Historical Knowledge. (Basil: Blackwell, 1986)
Stern, F. (Ed.). The Varieties of History from Voltaire to the Present. (London: Macmillan, 1970)
Rubinoff, L. & Van Der Dussen, W. (Eds.). Objectivity, Method and Point of View. (New York: E. J. Brill, 1991)
Young, R. White Mythologies: Writing History and the West. (London: Routledge, 1990)
The Dictionary of the History of Ideas [Accessed September 2003] <http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/DicHist/analytic/anaIV.html>
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Consis
Consis


Honorable
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Of Ruby
posted August 05, 2004 11:38 PM
Edited By: Consis on 22 Aug 2004

I Strongly Disagree With bort's Post


I would argue that part of the scientific method is to form a hypothesis. I think that when forming a hypothesis, one must educate themselves on facts first. After having educated themselves on pure facts that are relative and associative to the initial scientific question, they must then make a hypothesis. And as a great man once said, "If the truth cannot be proven with logic then the answer, however illogical, must be true." i.e. the answer can sometimes be quite subjective to the person asking the question. It is logical and possible to assume that mankind(homoreligious) does exactly that. As bort says, history is colored by the person writing or telling the story. What I don't like is that he neglects to mention the significance of an educated guess.

If he wanted to(for argument's sake) he could easily say that a guess will still be a guess unless proven otherwise. However, I think he was merely arguing for argument's sake.

It seems the more I read about such nonsense from bort, the more dissappointed I become.
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bort
bort


Honorable
Supreme Hero
Discarded foreskin of morality
posted August 24, 2004 02:50 AM
Edited By: bort on 23 Aug 2004

Quote:
However, I think he was merely arguing for argument's sake.


And yet again, Consis thinks he knows my motives.  

If you read my posts, perhaps you will see that my argument was and still is that history is the educated guess, is the interpretation, is the narrative.  I never neglected the importance of the educated guess, in fact I said that it was the most important thing.

That said, since you choose to lecture on the scientific method, would you care to enlighten us on what role "testable predictions" play in the scientific method?  Would you then care to explain how that applies to the subject at hand?  

I see you have also discovered a whole new line of cartoon smiley faces.  Ah, smileys, the internet equivalent of sticking out one's tongue.  Would you also care to state "nanny nanny boo boo" before imploring me to "stick my head in doo doo?"  And how delightful, apparently, you are also threatening some sort of painful activity that involves hitting me over the head with a stick.  I'm impressed, you've managed to be simultaneously juvenile and adolescent.
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Consis
Consis


Honorable
Legendary Hero
Of Ruby
posted August 24, 2004 05:59 AM
Edited By: Consis on 24 Aug 2004

Eh?

So if I remove the smilies then I'll simply be adolescent? Or will I only be juvenile without the smilies?

You've seem to have dramatically(and successfully I might add) established one heck of an argument to the scientific method. Now I'm the one who is impressed....with the success of your presentation that is.
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