Can History Be Objective?

Oct 2014
77
Osaka
#41
That's not subjectivism. History is its own knowledge form. It can't make experiments and it is not allowed to invent its own data, meaning it needs to get by on information and facts that are always underdetermined and in need of interpretation. It is a form av narrative, interpretative probabilistics.
Am example. Many historical sites contain material from several different periods. Yet it's not uncommon to find one period interests people way more than another. So you might have finds from the popular era exhaustively catalogued and painstakingly examined. Meanwhile material from the same site but dating from a "less interesting" period is left ignored.

Of course what society happens to be interested in and bothers to provide funding for is entirely subjective. But it has an impact on how history is understood.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,094
#42
It tends to be useful to make a distinction between history-writing, and history-use. Society uses history for all kinds of reasons, adopting all kinds of attitudes towards it. Even being aggressively ahistorical (modernity) is an attitude like that. It's still different from the craft of seriously sourced, critical history writing.

The products of academic history writing are designed for its argument to be reverse-engineerable and subject to destruction-tests. That's rarely the case with most instances of history-use, including history sites on the internet.
 
Likes: Linschoten
Nov 2018
173
Denmark
#43
Am example. Many historical sites contain material from several different periods. Yet it's not uncommon to find one period interests people way more than another. So you might have finds from the popular era exhaustively catalogued and painstakingly examined. Meanwhile material from the same site but dating from a "less interesting" period is left ignored.

Of course what society happens to be interested in and bothers to provide funding for is entirely subjective. But it has an impact on how history is understood.
True, archeologists in Denmark are actually a little tired of the focus that is in the public at the Viking age.

When e.g. the Bronze Age was just as interesting and formative.

We just don't have any written sources from that time.

Then it cannot speak to people's imagination in the same way as the Viking Age.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,094
#44
True, archeologists in Denmark are actually a little tired of the focus that is in the public at the Viking age.

When e.g. the Bronze Age was just as interesting and formative.

We just don't have any written sources from that time.

Then it cannot speak to people's imagination in the same way as the Viking Age.
I talked to some Norwegian archaeologists before Christmas. Modern Oslo sits on top of both Medieval Oslo and Early Modern Christiania – when Oslo burned in the 17th c. king Christian moved it a bit to the west and renamed the place after himself.

There is construction work right in the middle of modern Oslo (motorways + rail) and so the Norwegian archeologists have had the opportunity to the dig the entire Medieval harbour of Oslo, with the find of the wrecks of some 40 ships from various periods. The archeologists thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to create a museum over Medieval Oslo (still a powerful kingdom at the time), but, well, since it wasn't actually Viking, but later Medieval and Christian, no one was sufficiently interested in preserving things. So it's all been concreted over instead.
 
Nov 2018
173
Denmark
#45
I talked to some Norwegian archaeologists before Christmas. Modern Oslo sits on top of both Medieval Oslo and Early Modern Christiania – when Oslo burned in the 17th c. king Christian moved it a bit to the west and renamed the place after himself.

There is construction work right in the middle of modern Oslo (motorways + rail) and so the Norwegian archeologists have had the opportunity to the dig the entire Medieval harbour of Oslo, with the find of the wrecks of some 40 ships from various periods. The archeologists thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to create a museum over Medieval Oslo (still a powerful kingdom at the time), but, well, since it wasn't actually Viking, but later Medieval and Christian, no one was sufficiently interested in preserving things. So it's all been concreted over instead.
#$@&%*! This is sacrilege.:eek:
 
Mar 2019
13
Amsterdam
#46
History is a narrative of the past. Being a narrative, created by a narrator, then at its core history is humanistic - since it is created by the mind of humans. Thus modern day history is based on facts and the historian narrative. However, sometimes there are not enough concrete undisputed facts to create a full picture thus assumptions are made based on the research done and experience the historian has. Back in the days, the history recorders had only paper and word of mouth to pass the stories and histories of their culture. Not like today, we have tools like Wikipedia, Historia in addition to the written word. Which will allow facts to have a much larger chance to be preserved. However, because of the reasons above no 2 historians will have the same answer when all the facts are not in place.

Thus is it possible for the Historian of today to be 100% objective? My personal answer is no. Simply because the missing facts are filled in by the person/s assumption/s. Furthermore, history also is influenced by cultural milieu and internal viewpoints. Thus what narrator assumes is objective can be shown to be highly subjective by someone else.

Thus for me it would be best if the Historians would share where possible their own biases and assumptions and not pretend 100% that what is said is authentic.
 
Likes: sparky
Dec 2011
2,119
#47
Impossible.. absolutly impossible... I hope humans invent Robots to study the reality.. the human being is not objecitve but subjective ... it never sees reality. only what he want to see. That is because History, Politics, Media, Justice etc are never objective but subjective...

For example, I think Trump is a great president...idiot and a professional clown ... but a great president .. he's leading the economy very well, he's a convinced pacifist ...however many people hate him.. only because they believe what Media say... So.. is he a good president or a bad president? It is not an objective issue... the History so never will be objective.. In fact, History is Propaganda and used as Political tool.

How we can judge somebody if we don´t know the truth.... in nothing....Why we speak (me the first one) about people we don´t know and we no nothing about their vital circumstances, social relations, prevailing thought schemes etc.

No, History and objective are antinomic concepts, such as justice and objectivity.
It remains an objective historical fact that Donald Trump became president of the USA. There are many objective facts about what he has done. Judging his presidency as "great" (or any other adjective) is of course subjective.
 
Sep 2015
1,676
England
#48
We could write a river of words about our habit to use that "great" ...

I will just underline that "Ramses II the Great" wasn't "Ramses II the Great" ...

He has never been second [that is to say "II"] and he has never been defined "great" in his time.

He was "Usermaatre Setepenre Ramses Meriamon " and that was enough for the people of Kemet.

So ... when on history books we read that Ramses II the Great did this or that, actually we are reading about a "version" of the original personage totally invented in a later historical moment. If we talk about Ramses Meriamon we are realistic, if we talk about Ramses II the Great we are ... objective in a subjective way!
You do realise you are repeating what you said in your earlier post, just using different words: posts 23.
See also post 16, in the main among a few subsequent.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,113
Sydney
#49
I will limit the discussion to History as the written record

for the biased scribe , those were seen as objective , they fitted in his world-view and his mindscape
a contemporary opponent would have thought they were a pack of lies and exaggerations but didn't write
 
Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
#50
Objectivity ? It is non-existent unless you only write down the simple, non-controversial facts dryly something like :

1st September 1939 : Germany invaded Poland ; the World War Two broke out.

The Nazi Regime set up the concentration camp for solving the "Jewish Question".

The thorough Westernization of Japan began in the late 19th century.

Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest military commanders in the Napoleonic Era. (I guess nobody try to deny this)

Historiography is meaningless if historians merely write down those non-controversial facts without constructive interpretation and explanation. The prime task of historians is to sharing his / her views for enlightening readers with a clear picture depicting what actually happened in history, not pure narration of history without elaboration.

Historians could try to be close to objectivity, but they would never reach that "core" — no matter how multiple angles of which they analyze in their mind, they have their own independent idea and theory, whether taking reference from others, or forging by himself. Unless what he said is something everybody could recognize, such like "the Japanese culture is heavily influenced by the Chinese culture in the ancient history" (it is totally meaningless if historians make such a conclusion because it is pretty much a common sense at all !), his / her perspective is always non-objective.

The significance of historiography is exactly built on the foundation of biased, non-objective perspective offering the refreshed insight and new theories for interpretation. That's why we need the "historical revisionism" for improving our historiography — keep changing our historical views according to the discovery of new evidences, arguments and facts.
 

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