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Herbert Butterfield's The Whig Interpretation Of History

Decent Essays
History may be examined and interpreted in many different ways. This is because there is little evidence that had survived to go by in which historians have to use to study the past. Evidence, written and made by the historical people themselves, include but are not limited to written documents, such as books and letters, and material culture, as in art and architecture. Now, because the original authors or artists are not alive to tell the story, historians have to examine the evidence left behind to make an educated judgment on what had really happened in the past. This judgment or argument is always incomplete and up for revision as more evidence is found as time passes by. Although many conclusions can be generated from one piece of evidence, arguments can be biased, leading to different, possibly incorrect, views of history. In his essay, “The Whig Interpretation of History,” Herbert Butterfield elaborates on the matter that many historians tend to write on the behalf on a Protestant or Whig point of view when researching about history. The argument he has provided in his essay states that the “whig interpretation of history” relates to the act of “abstracting [ideas and events] from their historical context and judging them apart from their context – estimating them and organizing the historical story by a system of direct reference to the present” (Butterfield 30). To Butterfield, studying the past in the eyes of the present is one of the biggest errors a historian
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