History Science Reasons Justifications Claim | Explanation Justification

History Science Reasons Justifications Claim | Explanation Justification

Introduction: History Science Reasons Justifications Claim

History Science Reasons Justifications Claim | Explanation JustificationHistory Science Reasons Justifications Claim the nature and subject matter of history it is essential that, right at the outset, the definition of the subject history is mentioned. History is referred as “the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyze a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them”. Unlike the popular conception, the study of history has been one of the most interesting and long-standing research topics. As a matter of fact, the study of history has attracted as many researchers and academicians as has any other social science subject or literature. There are accounts of exemplary works of a number of eminent scholars who went knee-deep into the research to explore the dynamics of the nature of the subject history to strive to redefine the discourses and know the unknown. Among the various aspects that have been subjected to exhaustive research over the decade, the question of whether history can be defined as a science has been at the forefront and till date, has been one of the most debated topics. The trends and dynamics of the studies and researches conducted on the nature of history and the observations and findings the scholars have come up with hint at the efforts on the part of the historians to regard history as a science. Stemming from this, there have been lots of remarkable studies on the approach of the historians to consider history as a science. The studies seek to explore the reasons behind such an approach, the logic behind the claims and the extent to which they have been able to justify their notion of history being a science. These studies have, in fact, given a new meaning to the study of history and have explored the avenues that had not been accessed earlier.The present work would strive to find the logic behind the claims of the historians, the reasons that shaped their belief and to what extent their point of view can be justified. For the purpose of the work, the concepts and opinion of various scholars from both the schools of thought would be taken into account and examined closely to arrive at the conclusions.

The claims, counter claims and justifications:

There are a number of examples of the consideration of history as a science and the justification given by the scholars about it being a science. Among the most prominent examples the opinion of Droysen who authored the “History of Prussian Politics” is of particular importance. He opined that history is “science and definitely not art and the attitudes of art and science are opposed and irreconcilable. Another important example that can be mentioned in this regard is the book named “Manual of Historical Method” published by Professor Ernst Bernheim. Bernheim opines that history is a science and not an art as it seeks to provide an understanding of the issues and the developments and not the aesthetic pleasure that the arts define. He further explained that the results of history can well be defined in the form of a prose and prose is necessarily an aspect of arts but having said that, it suffices that the results are no less than a scientific report .The author states that there may be a component of art in the study of history but such instances are rare and coincidental. The supporters of the school of thought that strive to give history the scientific dimension mention the point that history does not represent the reality, as the art does but examines and represents it scientifically. The history provides a detailed account of the developments of the past as does sciences do. However, the opinion of various scholars about the nature of science put forth the crux of the matter that a subject must be able to develop and present concepts and science is no science without concepts. This notion is applied in the context of history and the answer to the question of what concepts does history develop and represent is answered masterfully by Bernheim when he says that “History is the science of the development of humans in their activity as social beings” .However, in spite of this seemingly masterful answer that Bernheim had provided, there remain clauses that go against his belief. Scholars opine that when history is considered a science the scope of art is considered too narrow and the scope of science too broad and as such, the statement that history was the science of development is only apparent. As such, history is not a science of development and it is no way a reflective of what is meant by development and it merely recounts the events and facts that led to the development. At this juncture, it is important to make note of what Schopenhauer opined. According to Schopenhauer, history does not deserve any scientific recognition owing to the fact that it lacks the basic attributes of science. He maintains that History lacks the basic feature of science, subordination of the things that come into consideration and it only knows how to present a mere coordination of the facts that it registers” .He further claimed that all the science were concerned with the cognitions and always states the types, whereas, history deals with individuals. As such, even if history is considered a science, it would be a science of individuals, which by no means is of the recognized scientific fervor and is equally undesirable. Related to the opinion of the above mentioned scholar is the opinion of Lazarus, who stated that there lies a fundamental difference history and science as history deals with individuals and concrete facts. The essence of the sciences lies in the laws and concepts that underline the facts and as such, the spectrum and scope of history does not acquire the scientific character and attributes. He stated that the emphasis of history is all the more event centric and less general and which is, in fact, an essential feature of sciences. As such, science has a general outlook and scope which examines the concepts and principles that define the facts and not the facts and events individually. Thus, history is believed to be a narrative account of what happened when and why. However, one point is worth mentioning in this context. As per the discussion mentioned above, the consideration of history as any form of science has been denied. Stemming from this is the fact that the study of history, in the modern times came to be regarded as useless and time-consuming without any interesting results. At this juncture, the views developed by Buckle took the world by surprise when he opined that history can be made a science by virtue of the laws that govern it from the mass of facts, as science requires”. However, Buckle’s views took no time to draw sharp criticisms and rebuttals owing to his concept of the “historical facts” and the false premise on which his views were based about history formulating the historical laws, which in reality, was that history does not formulate or determine the laws or concepts but state what happened when and for what reasons in a structured manner after an exhaustive study.

Droysen claimed that all arts represent the final product and not in pieces but history represents the contents those are often fragmented, not certain and not even complete and as such, it was not an art. But that fact is owed to the weakness of history as a discipline that it does not represent complete and certain contents and this in no way qualifies that history is not an art but a science. In the same manner Bernhiem’s claims that history was a science of development do not possess empirical evidences and he must have stated that history was a representation of developments and the representation of the societal affairs and human behaviors in accordance with the passage of time.

As such, the claims of the scholars representing history as a science were ridiculed by the ones who considered history a subject of humanities and denied access to the league of sciences.

Conclusion:

The accounts of the works and concepts developed by the scholars mentioned above provide a clear understanding of the factors that led to the development of the feeling that history can be regarded as a science, and the attributes that hinted that history was not an art but a science. The views of the scholars who formulated the school of thought that regarded history as a science gave explanations for their point of view in the statements and justifications stating that history was the science of development and history did have laws., named an “historical laws” and also possessed other attributes that classified it as a science and not an art .The views of the supporters of this school of thought have time and again been criticized and justified as wrong and so far the development that history is claimed to define is concerned, history was the representation of the events and facts that led to the development over the period of time and history does not either possess or have the capability to formulate laws and concepts which is a fundamental characteristic of a science.Having said this, the efforts on the part of the historicians to regard history as a science can be attributed to the fact that they wanted the subject of history be treated at par with the scientific body of knowledge and help it get rid of the tag of being an useless and boring humanities subject which lack analysis and scientific fervor. In the due course, it has been seen that the supporters of the claim that history was a science were silenced by the purists of science who themselves were quite adept with the subject matter and approach of history and the way it is studied.However, this does not mean that the supporters of the scientific dimension to history did not have any concrete substance. The views and justification of scholars like Bernheim and Buckle had been and continue to be important parts of the study of the nature and subject matter of history and the view points of the scholars mentioned form an integral part of any research done on the subject even at this point of time. The views of the supporters of the scientific fervor of history are relevant and are manifest in the fact that there has been a hitherto development of linking science with history which is regarded as the “philosophy of history”.The discipline has emerged into a means of inquiry into the historical laws and the meanings and implications of history and has opened up the concept developed by Hegel which was considered dead considering the way the claim of the scientific dimension of history was cancelled out, the aspect of the “Philosophy of History”. It would deal with the aspects of the “examination of history and historical writing, the cognitive development of historical facts, the real elements of the subject and the meaning and value of the course of history”. As such, the analysis of history can well strike the chords of the researchers and scholars to inquire into the philosophy of history pertaining to the aspects mentioned above in a scientific manner.

As such, the question of whether history is a science and if so, how far have the historicians been able to justify it takes the reach of the discussion to encompass far flung but intrinsically related aspects. Though the nature of history and the development of the philosophy of history can well be a means to bridge the gap between the two schools of thought, the aggressive claims by scholars about history being a science and not an art and likewise, history being an art and not a science can be attributed to the false premise of narrowing the scope of art a bit too much and widening the scope of science a bit too much.

History Science Reasons Justifications Claim | Explanation Justification

In short, the claims of scholars about history being a science cannot completely be established or done away with. The fact of the matter is that, the question of regarding history as either a science or an art is confusing and amateurish. Insofar, the claims of the scholars about history being a science is concerned they had been successful in, at least, giving a new life to the idea such as the philosophy of history in the modern day. This requires a new approach to examine the nature of history and then come to inferences without keeping the disciplines of science and arts chamber-tight.

Bibliography:

Bloch, Marc, The Historian’s Craft, 1st edn (New York: Knopf, 1953)

Burke, Peter, Eyewitnessing: The Use of Images as Historical Evidence, (London: Reaktion Books, 2001)

Burke, Peter, New Perspectives On Historical Writing, 1st edn (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992).

Cannadine, David, What Is History Now?, 1st edn (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002)

Cannon, John, The Historian At Work, 1st edn (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980)

Carr, Edward Hallett, and Michael Cox, The Twenty Years’ Crisis, 1919-1939, 1st edn (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2001)

Certeau, Michele de (1998), The Writing of History, trans. by Tom Conley (New York: Columbia University Press,1998)

Elton, Geoffrey R , The Practice of History (London: Fontana, 1999)

Evans, Richard J.,  In Defence of History (London: Granta Books, 1997)

Hunt, Lynn, ed., The New Cultural History (California: The University of California Press, 1989)

Jordanova, Ludmilla (2006), History in Practice (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2006)

Lemon, Michael , The Discipline Of History And The History Of Thought, 1st edn (London: Routledge, 2002)

Lowenthal, David, The Heritage Crusade And The Spoils Of History, 1st edn (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Ritter, Harry, Dictionary Of Concepts In History, 1st edn (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986)

Scott Gordon and James Gordon Irving (1991), The History and Philosophy of Social Science. Routledge.

Stearns, Peter N, Peter C Seixas, and Samuel S Wineburg, Knowing, Teaching, And Learning History, 1st edn (New York: New York University Press, 2000)

Tosh, John, ed., and intro., Historians on History: An Anthology, (Harlow: Pearson Education, 2000)

Williams, Robert Chadwell, The Historian’s Toolbox, 1st edn (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2003)

Bloch, Marc, The Historian’s Craft, 1st edn (New York: Knopf, 1953),p. 68

Burke, Peter, New Perspectives On Historical Writing, 1st edn (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992)

Burke, P (2001), Eyewitnessing: The Use of Images as Historical Evidence, (London: Reaktion Books)

Cannadine, D, ed (2002), What is history Now? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan),p. 64

Bloch, Marc, The Historian’s Craft, 1st edn (New York: Knopf, 1953),p. 82

Certeau, Michele de (1998), The Writing of History, trans. by Tom Conley (New York: Columbia University Press,1998)

Elton, Geoffrey R , The Practice of History (London: Fontana, 1999)

Jordanova, Ludmilla (2006), History in Practice (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2006)

Cannon, John, The Historian At Work, 1st edn (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980)

. Lemon, Michael , The Discipline Of History And The History Of Thought, 1st edn (London: Routledge, 2002),p 16

Lowenthal, David, The Heritage Crusade And The Spoils Of History, 1st edn (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998) p.38

Ritter, Harry, Dictionary Of Concepts In History, 1st edn (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1986), p.147

Tosh, John, ed., and intro., Historians on History: An Anthology, (Harlow: Pearson Education, 2000), p. 154

Williams, Robert Chadwell, The Historian’s Toolbox, 1st edn (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2003) p. 15

Hunt, Lynn, ed., The New Cultural History (California: The University of California Press, 1989),p. 87

Tosh, John, ed., and intro., Historians on History: An Anthology, (Harlow: Pearson Education, 2000)

Bloch, Marc, The Historian’s Craft, 1st edn (New York: Knopf, 1953),p. 38

Evans, Richard J.,  In Defence of History (London: Granta Books, 1997)

 

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