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CRITICAL HISTORY

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CRITICAL HISTORY Major concern is methodology Particularly the crucial question of on what grounds can historians reasonably demonstrate that they know what they ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: CRITICAL HISTORY


1
CRITICAL HISTORY
  • Major concern is methodology
  • Particularly the crucial question of on what
    grounds can historians reasonably demonstrate
    that they know what they claim to know
  • They investigate the question of the
    verifiability of historical knowledge
  • They compare the logic, rigor, and techniques of
    history against the methodology of the natural
    sciences
  • They look at the method of forming an explanation
  • They look at what the meaning of causation is
  • They look at the problems of being objective

2
INVARIABLE RELATIONSHIPS
  • Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and others tried
    to establish more reliable means for studying the
    natural world
  • Favored mathematical formulations for testing and
    expressing their findings
  • Major achievement was the assertion that whenever
    some combination of prior conditions existed in a
    particular instance, then a certain and
    predictable kind of outcome necessarily would
    follow
  • Known as an invariable relationship

3
SCIENTIFIC LAWS
  • Formal logic connected the anterior or preceding
    conditions to the observable outcome by means of
    affirming a general, or empirical, law
  • This law simply said that, after repeated
    verifications through experimentation, whenever
    those kinds of conditions came into being, the
    same outcome or consequences would take place
  • General laws stated that, given the same causes,
    very similar effects almost surely reoccur

4
SCHOLARLY DILEMMA
  • Those disciplines that were less demanding in
    logical form or less mathematical in orientations
    were viewed as inferior forms of inquiry and
    dismissed as pseudosciences
  • Such as history
  • Serious students of human affairs therefore
    presented with two alternative courses of action
  • Seek to emulate the natural sciences and seek to
    present their findings as general statements of
    invariable relationships
  • Insist of the propriety and integrity of the
    traditional methods and techniques within their
    own fields and reject the need to adhere to the
    models of the natural sciences
  • Argued that a subject like history was a class of
    learning unto itself, that it was distinct and
    unique and therefore had methods that were also
    distinct and unique

5
POSITIVISM
  • Primarily the work of Auguste Comte but
    subsequently embraced and elaborated by Henry
    Thomas Buckle and John Stuart Mill
  • Sought to transform the study of human affairs
    into a more systematic form of enquiry by
    endorsing the techniques of the natural sciences
  • Concentrated their attention on uniformities and
    similarities in the course of human affairs and
    then located the invariable relationships that
    linked the same kinds of experiences
  • Presumed the existence of general laws governing
    the outcomes of human activity

John Stuart Mill
6
AUGUSTE COMTE
  • Ideas laid out in 6 volume Cours de philosophie
    positive and 4 volume Système de politique
    positive
  • Provided foundation for the creation of the
    discipline of sociology

7
BASIC ASSUMPTIONS
  • Claimed that the human mind had developed
    historically through three stages
  • Concentrated on the vanguard of the human race
  • People of Italy, France, England, Germany, and
    Spain
  • Preferred high level of abstraction
  • Wished to employ history without the names of
    men, or even of nations
  • Preferred the sciences and their development, not
    human events like wars and political affairs
  • Ranked the sciences in a hierarchy, based on
    their difficulty
  • Mathematics at the bottom, then astronomy,
    physics, chemistry, physiology (biology) and
    sociology at the top

8
LAW OF THE THREE STAGES
  • Theological stage
  • Human beings saw the world as controlled by wills
    independent from their own but subject to being
    manipulated by either prayer or magic
  • Methaphysical stage
  • Abstract forces, such as the requirements of
    nature or the will of the people, governed all
    things
  • Positivist stage
  • An understanding of the invariable relationships
    among phenomena was used to explain reality

9
HOLISTIC THINKING
  • Comte thought in holistic terms, affirming that
    each mental stage corresponded with other kinds
    of intellectual and institutional developments
  • Theological phase coexisted with military life
    and primitive slavery
  • Metaphysical phase coexisted with lawyers and
    attempts at creating governments based on law
  • Positivist phase coexisted with industrialization

10
THE POSITIVIST PHASE
  • No need to indulge in idle speculation over first
    or final causes in positivist phase
  • Historians would concentrate their full attention
    on knowable subjects and the revelation of
    lawlike regularities that affirmed invariable
    relationships among phenomena
  • These would not depend on theological or
    metaphysical presumptions but upon empirical
    observations of the real world
  • This, in turn would result in a new human
    science, sociology
  • Would lead to new kinds of understanding of the
    laws governing human behavior and, consequently,
    new certainties about how to best calculate the
    probable outcomes of deliberate human acts

11
IDEALIST REACTION
  • Wilhelm Dilthey
  • Drew fundamental distinction between the natural
    sciences, on the one hand, and the human
    sciences, on the other
  • The practice of each called by distinctive
    methodologies because the natural scientist dealt
    with regularities and uniformities in nature
    while the historian dealt with the unique,
    specific, and unrepeatable events outside of
    nature

12
BENEDETTO CROCE
  • Emphasized the all-important fact that historians
    existed in the present
  • For the past to take on vitality and meaning,
    historians had to make it come alive by
    rethinking it in their own minds
  • All history is contemporary history

13
ROBIN COLLINGWOOD
  • Published The Idea of History posthumously in
    1943
  • Considered to be the most significant book on the
    philosophy of history ever written in English
  • Described history as the science of human
    nature
  • Aim was self-knowledge
  • Proper object of historical study was the
    activities of the human mind
  • Historians learned about the mind by
    understanding what the mind had done

14
INSIDE/OUTSIDE
  • Methods of natural sciences has no analogous
    relationship with the methods of the human
    sciences
  • the historian, investigating any event in the
    past, makes a distinction between what may be
    called the outside and the inside of an event
  • Outside an event
  • everything belonging to it which can be
    described in terms of bodies and their movements
  • Inside an event
  • that which can only be described in terms of
    thought

15
PURPOSE OF HISTORY
  • The historian is never concerned with either of
    these (outside/inside) to the exclusion of the
    other.
  • the work of the historian may begin by
    discovering the outside of an event, but it can
    never end there he must always remember that the
    event was an action, and that his main task is to
    think himself into this action, to discern the
    thought of his agent

16
THESIS
  • In the case of nature, this distinction between
    the outside and the inside of an event does not
    arise.
  • the events of nature are merely events, not the
    acts of agents whose thought the scientist
    endeavors to trace
  • To the scientist, nature is always, and merely,
    a phenomenon, a spectacle presented to his
    intelligent observation
  • For the historian, in contrast, the events of
    history are never mere phenomena, never mere
    spectacles for contemplation, but things which
    the historian looks, not at, but through, to
    discern the thought within them.

17
TO PUT IT ANOTHER WAY
  • In seeking to penetrate to the inside of events
    and detecting the thought which they express, the
    historian is doing something which the scientist
    need not and cannot do.
  • In terms of methodology (of how to do this)
  • there is only one way in which it can be done
    by rethinking them in his own mind
  • the history of thought, and therefore all
    history, is the reenactment of past thought in
    the historians own mind
  • The creative and critical experience reveals to
    the historian the powers of his own mind, and
    hence all minds, resulting in a fuller
    appreciation of human nature as revealed by the
    mind while working on actual experience

18
POSITIVIST CRITIQUE
  • Positivists charged that idealist approach lacked
    methodological integrity and defied verifiability
    through the use of evidence or observation
  • Idealist position was full of fantasy, mysticism,
    and self-deception
  • Called for explanations based on the operation of
    an unobservable entity called the mind and
    required empathetic leaps into the heads of
    historical actors.
  • All depended on faith, not science

19
IDEALIST RESPONSE
  • Insisted that they possessed methodological
    integrity, claiming that their approach, if done
    prudently and rigorously, did allow for
    verifiable insights into the workings of the mind
  • Through the correct use of documentary evidence,
    the historian could make legitimate inferences
  • Regarded the role of active, critical thought
    about the past as significant
  • The only way to bring life into the past
  • Had no use for the positivist emphasis upon the
    need for generalization
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