Can History Be Objective?

Sep 2015
1,788
England
#81
Historians try to objective to the sources and the narratives they elicit, but I have found that confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, and the willingness to complete ignore critical thinking principles lead to very subjective history writing.

Follow the writings of different factions of historians interested in the intersection of Mormonism and the American west, and you will find significant difference while all sides insist they are objective.
This last paragraph is not overly surprising. But the psychology you refer to, applied to leading historians, professors at Oxford or Cambridge, Harvard and Yale etc, from a merely interested persons perspective, seems unlikely. Since among other things, we as a species are aware of our own self-awareness; and 'a wolf does not know what it is, to be a wolf' (Hegel).

The British historian, Patrick Joyce said in 1991, 'the commanding heights of academy history seem secure against the skirmishing bands outside, though some notable walls have fallen, chiefly in the United States'. [And Richard J Evans concluded in the late 1990s], '...there can be little doubt that the debate over history, truth and objectivity unleashed by postmodernism has become too widespread for all but the most obscurantist to ignore.' Sir Geoffrey Elton, '...denounced postmodernist ideas on history as "menacing, destructive, absurd and meaningless. Total relativism is... a virus of frivolous nihilism' that was infecting a disturbing number of young historians above all in the United States...Certainly we are fighting for the lives of innocent young people beset by devilish tempters who claim to offer higher forms of thought and deeper truths and insights...[And moreover] the radical historian Raphael Samuel, progenitor of History Workshop, warned in one of his last publications that "the deconstructive turn in contemporary thought" invited everyone to "see history not as a record of the past, more or less faithful to the facts", but "as an invention, or fiction, of historians themselves".
(the above abstract is from Richard J Evans In Defense of History 1997/2000).

And therefore to call a postmodernist "theoretical hauteurs" (as Geoff Eley did) is basically just plain mild. They're fairly obviously wrong in many ways, but vehemently/fanatically ambitious. All of which there is no doubt, adds up to a tragedy for the human race; brought about by the usual human deficiencies, leading to doctrinaire, dogmatism and bigotry etc!

Evans recommends nonetheless, 'Some of them might prove more friendly, or more useful, than they seem at first sight.'
 
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Likes: JakeStarkey
Sep 2015
1,788
England
#82
For one, I'm am refering to the average persn and amatuer historians. That's why my post refers to "most humans." They too have a right to history. Then, there are nationalists or others who are motivated by political or philosophical issues. I can't name anybody in particular today because I am not a historian by profession and don't follow the professionals.
Ah, you are referring to the reading of history.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not least the bigoted.
 
Likes: Rodger

Cepheus

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,222
#83
Ah, you are referring to the reading of history.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not least the bigoted.
Ah, you are referring to the reading of philosophy.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted.

Ah, you are referring to the reading of psychology.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted.

Ah, you are referring to the reading of English literature.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted.

etc. etc. etc.
 
Sep 2015
1,788
England
#84
Ah, you are referring to the reading of philosophy.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted.

Ah, you are referring to the reading of psychology.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted.

Ah, you are referring to the reading of English literature.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted.

etc. etc. etc.
Hardly. If you read his previous post the discussion will realise. It was No.80:

For one, I'm am refering to the average persn and amatuer historians. That's why my post refers to "most humans." They too have a right to history. Then, there are nationalists or others who are motivated by political or philosophical issues. I can't name anybody in particular today because I am not a historian by profession and don't follow the professionals.
 

Cepheus

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,222
#85
Just stick to the facts. If I say "Human beings have inhabited the British mainland for at least 2000 years", that is an objective historical statement isn't it?
Not really. Being objective is being impartial.
Objective is simply a synomym
Because being objective, is being impartial. Why does it have to be impartial, or partial for that matter?

When you present the overwhelming evidence that says as much ie 2000 years etc, it will indeed appear to be entirely the case. It just is. Non-problematically. (Non-ideologically even etc). The fact that it is impartial sort of technically, appears superfluous.
So, when you present the overwhelming evidence that says as much ie2000 years etc, it is the case that you have presented evidence to support ones position.

What does objectivity have to do with it ?

Our premise includes evidence and not objectivity. Partiality is superfluous. If not, why not ?
 

Cepheus

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,222
#86
Hardly. If you read his previous post the discussion will realise. It was No.80:
No.

It doesn't matter. I read and am aware of post #80.

You have predicated history as a premise for your comment. I am saying that your comment is a trite generality that does not clarify anything.

IOW, how does a trite comment elucidate history ? If "reading history" is part of your premise what distinguishes it as IMPLYING the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted ?
 

Cepheus

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,222
#87
Ah, you are referring to the reading of history.

This implies the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not least the bigoted.
re: implying
re: missing a premise ? right ? How do we get from P1 to the conclusion ?
re: trite generality


P1 read history
P2 ??? -----> where is this premise ? <----
conclusion: This IMPLIES the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted.
 
Likes: JPK
Sep 2015
1,788
England
#88
Objective is simply a synomym


So, when you present the overwhelming evidence that says as much ie2000 years etc, it is the case that you have presented evidence to support ones position.

What does objectivity have to do with it ?

Our premise includes evidence and not objectivity. Partiality is superfluous. If not, why not ?
Surreal?
 
Sep 2015
1,788
England
#89
re: implying
re: missing a premise ? right ? How do we get from P1 to the conclusion ?
re: trite generality


P1 read history
P2 ??? -----> where is this premise ? <----
conclusion: This IMPLIES the potential for the doctrinaire and the dogmatic, not the least the bigoted.
The person i was talking to, seemed to understand what i said, which you haven't. He even left a Like dude.
 

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