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es_bih View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2009 at 22:36
Interesting topic so far. I have observed it from afar, but not participated yet.
 
Let us keep up with the guidelines by keeping away from personal attacks. Furthermore, this forum has a few basic guidelines that you choose to abide by once you post and join this community. Please be aware of that, and please read up on those as well.
 
The code of conduct can be found here.

*Changed to a more general tone. 


Edited by es_bih - 26-Apr-2009 at 00:58

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Apr-2009 at 23:52
Originally posted by es_bih es_bih wrote:

it would be wise for you to discontinue attacks on individuals based on their age
 
Damn I was just going to call gcle too young and immature. Won't bother now.


Edited by Paul - 24-Apr-2009 at 23:54
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2009 at 07:37

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2009 at 10:32
Originally posted by Paul Paul wrote:

Originally posted by es_bih es_bih wrote:

it would be wise for you to discontinue attacks on individuals based on their age
 
Damn I was just going to call gcle too young and immature. Won't bother now.
 
Feel free to do so, Paul. I can take the truth.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Apr-2009 at 10:35
Originally posted by Paul Paul wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

 
I grant that more microhistory is now written than before, but it's been around a long time. And in any case more history is now being written than ever before, and a whole stack more PhDs are being granted and another whole stack of history departments now exist.
 
 
Maybe it's that in the past macrohistories were the mainstream views and microhistories a minority view and this has now swapped around.
 
 
Yes. I was suggesting a reason for the change - i.e. that it grows easier to find more topics for micro-history than for macro the more historians there are around.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chilbudios Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Apr-2009 at 22:08


Originally posted by Knights Knights wrote:


Originally posted by egyptian goddess egyptian goddess wrote:

Therefore E.H. Carr is accurate in stating, “The facts speaks only when the historian calls on them. It is he who decides to which facts to give the floor, and in what order or context”.

I'd like to discuss your use of Carr's quote first of all. In his 'What is History', Carr makes an equivalent distinction to the one I made in my first post - that of 'historical facts' and 'history'. He terms these "facts of history" and "facts of the past", respectively. The former, he goes on to explain, are objective for all intents and purposes - my example of 'dates' in history, for instance. The latter however, "the facts of the past", are those which he views as being the primary concern of historians. For the remainder of the book, after setting these out in Chapter One, Carr deals with 'facts of the past', which he goes on to make the 'fish in the ocean' analogy about. Thus, in your quote Carr is referring to these 'facts of the past', which are subjectively interpreted and subsequently represented, by the historian. His quote is not talking about 'historical facts'. In essence, I am saying that what Carr deems 'facts of history', and what I mentioned earlier as 'historical facts' are objective, whilst Carr's 'facts of the past' (my 'history') are open to selective representation by the historian.

Knights, I quoted from the other thread your reply addressed to Egyptian Goddess (I hope my excerpt is fair enough). While I don't agree with her conclusive remark from that post, I also don't think your assessment of Carr's quote is correct, mainly because the aforementioned quote is about "historical facts" which according to Carr are not that objective, Carr's position being anti-empiricist to a degree.

The quote is part of larger paragraph in chapter I which starts with "What is a historical fact?". I'll quote a bit more for a better understanding:

 ... the necessity to establish these basic facts rests not on any quality in the facts themselves, but on an a priori decision of the historian. In spite of C. P. Scott's motto, every journalist knows today that the most effective way to influence opinion is by the selection and arrangement of the appropriate facts. It used to be said that facts speak for themselves. This is, of course, untrue. The facts speak only when the historian calls on them. It is he who decides to which facts to give the floor, and in what order or context. It was, I think, one of Pirandello's characters who said that a fact is like a sack - it won't stand up till you've put something in it.

and a bit further, a more radical stance:
The belief in a hard core of historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy, but one which it is very hard to eradicate. 

About the "facts of history" and "facts of the past", check the following quote from the same paragraph:


It is the historian who has decided for his own reasons that Caesar's crossing of that petty stream, the Rubicon, is a fact of history, whereas the crossing of the Rubicon by millions of other people before or since interests nobody at all. The fact that you arrived in this building half an hour ago on foot, or on a bicycle, or in a car, is just as much a fact about the past as the fact that Caesar crossed the Rubicon. But it will probably be ignored by historians.
 
However, even more interesting is in my opinion what he adds in the following paragraphs, because it addresses how these facts get into being and what we can actually know from these facts.

I suspect that even today one of the fascinations of ancient and medieval history is that it gives us the illusion of having all the facts at our disposal within a manageable compass: the nagging distinction between the facts of history and other facts about the past vanishes because the few known facts are all facts of history. As Bury, who had worked in both periods, said, "the records of ancient and medieval history are starred with lacunae". History has been called an enormous jig-saw with a lot of missing parts. But the main trouble does not consist of the lacunae. Our picture of Greece in the fifth century B.C. is defective not primarily because so many of the bits have been accidentally lost, but because it is, by and large, the picture formed by a tiny group of people in the city of Athens. We know a lot about what fifth-century Greece looked like to an Athenian citizen; but hardly anything about what it looked like to a Spartan, a Corinthian, or a Theban - not to mention a Persian, or a slave or other non-citizen resident in Athens. Our picture has been preselected and predetermined for us, not so much by accident as by people who were consciously or unconsciously imbued with a particular view and thought the facts which supported that view worth preserving. In the same way, when I read in a modern history of the Middle Ages that the people of the Middle Ages were deeply concerned with religion, I wonder how we know this, and whether it is true. What we know as the facts of medieval history have almost all been selected for us by generations of chroniclers who were professionally occupied in the theory and practice of religion, and who therefore thought it supremely important, and recorded everything relating to it, and not much else. The picture of the Russian peasant as devoutly religious was destroyed by the revolution of 1917. The picture of medieval man as devoutly religious, whether true or not, is indestructible, because nearly all the known facts about him were preselected for us by people who believed it, and wanted others to believe it, and a mass of other facts, in which we might possibly have found evidence to the contrary, has been lost beyond recall. The dead hand of vanished generations of historians, scribes, and chroniclers has determined beyond the possibility of appeal the pattern of the past. "The history we read", writes Professor Barraclough, himself trained as a medievalist, "though based on facts, is, strictly speaking, not factual at all, but a series of accepted judgments".

and

The nineteenth-century fetishism of facts was completed and justified by a fetishism of documents. The documents were the Ark of the Covenant in the temple of facts. The reverent historian approached them with bowed head and spoke of them in awed tones. If you find it in the documents, it is so. But what, when we get down to it, do these documents - the decrees, the treaties, the rent-rolls, the blue books, the official correspondence, the private letters and diaries - tell us? No document can tell us more than what the author of the document thought - what he thought had happened, what he thought ought to happen or would happen, or perhaps only what he wanted others to think he thought, or even only what he himself thought he thought. None of this means anything until the historian has got to work on it and deciphered it. The facts, whether found in documents or not, have still to be processed by the historian before he can make any use of them: the use he makes of them is, if I may put it that way, the processing process.

I admit I am selective to prove a point (what a "historical fact" is to Carr) and after reading the entire book, Carr may not seem so relativist as these quotes might suggest.



Edited by Chilbudios - 26-Apr-2009 at 22:13
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Apr-2009 at 22:33
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

 
However, getting back on topic, I note that no-one has actually said that they agree with the 'postmodernist' position that there is something new or significant about noticing that people's views are influenced by their metanarratives, the contexts they develop in (in particular in the description and analysis of historical events.
 
The idea postmernism is stating the bloody obvious only using poncy new words to do it so it seems trendy is a view I've long held.
 
However to make this observation, the bloody obvious bit particularly, sort of implies I agree with the analysis.
 
From your statement above do I imply you think the same?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Apr-2009 at 10:41
Paul,
 
Pretty well spot on. Smile
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