Essay about Objectivity In History

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Objectivity in History


First exposure to history, whether it be at home or at school, will almost certainly be at an age when the child can do no other than expect to be told the truth.

So, from the very beginning, whether we find history dull or exciting, easy or hard, we do at least assume that we are being given an accurate account of the past. Our subsequent growing up can be seen as a process of progressively shedding the literal beliefs of early life, from Father Christmas and Easter Bunny, to parental infallibility and perhaps religion; the literal truth of the history we learn could be regarded as a further casualty along that road. I wonder, though, whether we ever quite shake off the feeling that if a book or a film
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R G Collingwood tells us that a great deal of the history of writing history is about the gradual increase in the professionalism of historians, their growing skills in evaluating and comparing sources and authorities, the realisation that the net must be cast as wide as, no, wider than possible, in order to catch every related fact which may cast light on an event. And these facts must then be checked against each other. The slow emergence of the scholarship of inscriptions provided further help, as did the study of linguistics. From the latter we can learn much about a society by observing the words which have passed into the language as metaphors; for example, what.' but an agrarian society would use the word "disseminate", or sowing of seeds, for the spread of knowledge?

We may have assumed that biography, or indeed any form of monograph, by delving very deeply into one subject, would result in something near to a true and accurate account. But to present any subject in full clarity necessitates reference to a myriad facts and relationships, which the monographer would find quite beyond the scope of his work.

It is the case that there are simply too many facts, even after the historian has followed E H Carr's procedure of selecting only the significant ones, what he calls "the…