Posted by: aboutalbion | May 15, 2012

What is History? (4)

Carr begins his discussion of the philosophy of history in chapter 1 of his book.  He outlines the complexity of the relationship between a historian (in the present) and his evidence (from the past).  He concludes that such a relationship is a reciprocal relationship.

‘The historian starts with a provisional selection of [evidence] and a provisional interpretation in the light of which that selection has been made …  As [the historian] works, both the interpretation and the selection and ordering of [evidence] undergo subtle and perhaps partly unconscious changes through the reciprocal action of one or the other.  And this reciprocal action also involves reciprocity between present and past, since the historian is part of the present and the [evidence] belongs to the past.’ (p24)

[Carr, E H (2001) What is History? Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.]


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