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What is History?


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#16 MattW

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 02:21 PM

There is what history "should be" and what it "is".

It is usually propoganda by the winning or dominant society/culture. Much of what we read in history is lies, half truths, and extremely bias analysis by "historians" who were anything but objective.

From that we try to find the truth, but the reality is a lot of 'truth' will never be known because often the sources are so few.


As they say, history is written by the winners.

#17 Guest_Terence_*

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 08:51 PM

Maybe in the future, as historical studies are moving more and more towards scienctific approaches, alot of religions might be disproof and people may have to find or invent new moral standard based on a brand new form of philosophy to justified life.

#18 MattW

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 11:05 AM

Maybe in the future, as historical studies are moving more and more towards scienctific approaches, alot of religions might be disproof and people may have to find or invent new moral standard based on a brand new form of philosophy to justified life.


Maybe- interesting thought. I agree though that history is getting more and more scientific in it approach.

#19 HappyHistorian

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 06:05 PM

Maybe- interesting thought. I agree though that history is getting more and more scientific in it approach.

I'm not sure that history is becoming more scientific. Currently in historiography there is a debate between the empiricists (such as Richard Evans) and postmodernists (such as Keith Jenkins). Matt, what do you mean by history is becoming more scientific?

#20 MattW

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 06:59 PM

I'm not sure that history is becoming more scientific. Currently in historiography there is a debate between the empiricists (such as Richard Evans) and postmodernists (such as Keith Jenkins). Matt, what do you mean by history is becoming more scientific?


What i meant was that there seems to me to be a greater emphasis on a very methodical and technical approach to history, with a greater emphasis on rigorous analysis and hard evidence, rather than the philosophy of history [collingwood e.t.c]. Its quite hard to explain, or maybe i'm just not very good at it :)

#21 Lu Su

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 11:21 PM

My definition - History is something that we should have started learning from a long time ago. :D

#22 HappyHistorian

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 12:59 AM

What i meant was that there seems to me to be a greater emphasis on a very methodical and technical approach to history, with a greater emphasis on rigorous analysis and hard evidence, rather than the philosophy of history [collingwood e.t.c]. Its quite hard to explain, or maybe i'm just not very good at it :)

History has become more dependent on sources and has attempted to be "objective". This was established by Leopold von Ranke, and it is practically embraced by all historians these days. So in this sense history has become more scientific. History can be described as a combination of science, literature and entertainment.

#23 MattW

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 06:55 AM

History has become more dependent on sources and has attempted to be "objective". This was established by Leopold von Ranke, and it is practically embraced by all historians these days. So in this sense history has become more scientific. History can be described as a combination of science, literature and entertainment.


Interesting to see you mention von Ranke- one of the great historians for me. Have you heard of his theory of genetic relationism, which dictates that every period of history grows out of the previous one, and that historians should focus on the origins of events? This is a principle which i try to follow in my own historical studies.

#24 MattW

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Posted 15 November 2008 - 06:57 AM

My definition - History is something that we should have started learning from a long time ago. :D


As George Santanaya said: those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

#25 Lu Su

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Posted 01 December 2008 - 09:27 PM

As George Santanaya said: those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.


Well spoken =)

#26 William O'Chee

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 05:38 AM

Interesting to see you mention von Ranke- one of the great historians for me. Have you heard of his theory of genetic relationism, which dictates that every period of history grows out of the previous one, and that historians should focus on the origins of events? This is a principle which i try to follow in my own historical studies.

Interesting. What was the basis he used for arguing for his theory of genetic relationism?

#27 MattW

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 06:53 AM

Interesting. What was the basis he used for arguing for his theory of genetic relationism?


Ranke saw the most important aspect of history to be 'continuity', and genetic relationism was his theory that allowed for this continuity. I have to dash i'm afraid...

#28 hellzfire312

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 06:49 PM

History is a subject taught at my school by the most boring teacher ever with a monotone

#29 William O'Chee

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 06:04 AM

I think we all understand what history is, in its various forms. The real question is why history?

Now before someone comes along and says that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it, I want to advance a more contentious opinion. I believe history can be ennobling. That doesn't mean it has to be ennobling - for knowledge for its own sake can be important - but there are elements to the study of history which make us aware of the great and civilising forces of society, which enlighten us on those better aspects of ourselves which we can be with application.

#30 Yizheng

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 07:09 AM

I'm not a historian, so not involved in scientific study of any kind, and not very knowleadgeable of the schools of thought and methodical approaches. History has always been for me not an academic pursuit but a living solid part of the world. History is my warning beacon and my guiding staff, it is a companion both wanted and unwanted, it is a record of our best sides, yes, and also our worst. It is the great chronicle of memory that lets me be more than just a small fragment and become a part of the greater whole. Without this memory I would be an island. The past can be an abrasive rope, and yet also so needed to secure us to the shores of humanity. It shows me the grand mosaic of our different cultures and traditions, and at the same time shows me how much we share, how much we are alike. It is of our creation and we can use it for better or worse, manipulate and falsify it, make it a weapon of hatred or a tool for building greater understanding.
That is my personal vision of history.




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