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History Based on Collingwood, Reaction Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1424

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Introduction

Historian Collingwood has long known that history revolves around past actions by human beings. Additionally, these pursuits are mainly about the human actions done by reasonable humans. Therefore, Collingwood believes that the key to attaining knowledge of past actions is a re-enactment. In this case, the historian should be able to reason independently about the expression they are attempting to interpret. However, if historians cannot do so for themselves, they will abandon the problem.[1] In this case, the historian of a particular thought must think for themselves on that thought and not come up with any other thought like it.

History as a Science

Collingwood claims that history is a science, but this depends on one’s definition of science. Many people think of sciences as natural sciences; however, science should be considered an organized body of knowledge. History is a unique science with a body of knowledge explicitly structured.

The ‘exact sciences’ have a body of language explicitly organized; for example, meteorology collects observations concerned with events of a specific type, which the scientists observe as they occur but cannot produce at will.[2] On the other hand, chemistry is a science whose body of knowledge is observing events and making them happen under stringent conditions. Moreover, other sciences are organized not by observing events as they happen but by making certain assumptions and proceeding with the possible argument for the consequences.

However, this is not a similar case in history. This is because historians do not deliberately produce wars and revolutions under laboratory conditions so that they can be studied with absolute precision. Furthermore, historians do not observe the events in history, unlike the other scientists such as the meteorologists and the astronomers. They would make expensive trips to observe the events as they happened since their standard is such that they cannot rely on the data and descriptions given by inexpert witnesses[3].

This is not the case for historians since they do not travel to areas where the wars and revolutions are happening; this is not due to a lack of resources and will; rather, it is because the facts that should be learned would not be learned if there was deliberate fomenting of the war and revolution. Therefore, history is a science whose purpose is to study events not accessible to our observation, study the events inferentially, and argue them from the point of view accessible to our observation which is called pieces of evidence.

Historical Knowledge

History is similar to other sciences in the following aspect which no historian is allowed to claim any piece of knowledge except that he can justify his claim by exhibiting himself in the first place and anyone else who is both willing and able to follow his demonstration on how his claim is based on. Therefore, this is what is meant by stating history as inferential. Therefore, a man can be described as a historian depending on the knowledge at his disposal that proves certain events. The knowledge is only his if he had a unique way of visualizing the situation and coming up with the best conclusion; if there were someone else with the same trail of knowledge about a similar event, this would not be described as historical knowledge. For this reason, he could produce this piece of information to any critics of his claims depending on the evidence he had derived. In addition, historians can be described as critics since they are able and willing to go beyond an individual’s thoughts to determine if the data was done appropriately. According to Collingwood, inferential is another way of staying organized. For this reason, various historians feel that memory should not be considered history; this is because it is not organized, therefore, not inferential. However, Collingwood expresses memory as history because those who describe a certain memory are mostly about the things that happened in the past.

Historical Inference

In this case, the proof is compulsive, like inexact science, where one cannot affirm the premises without being obliged to affirm the conclusion. It can also be permissive, like in inductive science, where the proof can justify the thinker affirming the conclusion. Therefore, an inductive argument with a negative conclusion is compulsive; the thinker is forbidden to affirm what he wishes. When the conclusion is positive, it is permissive.[4]

Like every science, history is autonomous; every historian has the right to decide on the proper methods for their science and identify a correct solution for every problem in pursuit of the science. This means he can never be under any obligation to let someone else make up his mind. Therefore, in historical inference, an individual should not rely on any man’s conclusion about a particular topic regardless of their expertise in the area; in doing so, they are giving up the autonomy of attaining their knowledge. However, there are some unique cases whereby the historian can accept the inference given to them; this is when the inference comes from a certain authority. Unfortunately, in accepting this information (testimony), the individual forfeits the name historian, and whatever conclusion he produces cannot be described as knowledge. Therefore, a testimony can only be confirmed as historical knowledge when the testimony has evidence backing it.

‘Scissors-and-Paste’ History

This describes the kind of history that depends on the testimony of authorities. This system starts by identifying what is needed for a particular study. People will look for information about it. This can be written or oral. People may hear things from other people that might not be accurate.[5] Therefore, after a historian has discovered the piece of information he finds necessary, he excerpts, incorporates, and translates it into a suitable format for his history. In cases where he has numerous statements to draw upon, he will find a link between them and incorporate that into his text. However, there are instances where he would find one statement contradicting the other in such a case; he should find a way to reconcile them; if not, he should leave one out. Therefore ‘scissors–and–paste’ history is history conducted by excerpting and combining testimonies of different authorities. However, according to Collingwood, this is not history because it does not satisfy the necessary laws of science. This would lead to a situation whereby the problem can be argued and settled from a different point of view.

Methods to adopt in research and writing history

One of the methods historians should consider while researching and writing history is putting nature into the question; moreover, they should consider their attitude toward nature. As a result, in this situation, the scientist should take the lead and come up with questions that he wants to answer in his head. The second way is finding a means to compel nature to answer these questions. Furthermore, the historian should have a respectful attentiveness, ensuring that he has his perspective on the conclusion and only uses his authority as mere sources to drive his point home.[6]

Conclusion

History is a science since it contains a certain body of knowledge with well-organized information. The information is not formulated in the lab; rather, it is an aspect researched and conclusions drawn from the historian’s point of view. For this reason, there is autonomy in history; even if the historian derives some information from a certain individual, he is willing and able to do extra to obtain concrete evidence about a topic. However, there are some cases whereby this does not apply. It is known as ‘scissors-and-paste’ history, whereby an individual accepts information from other people known as an authority, and this information is described as testimony. To enhance their ability to write and research, historians should align with nature and improve the foundation of the research from that.

Bibliography

Collingwood, Robin George, and Robin George Collingwood. The idea of history. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1994.

Hughes-Warrington, Marnie. Fifty key thinkers on history. Routledge, 2007.

[1] Hughes-Warrington, Marnie. Fifty key thinkers on history. Routledge, 2007.

[2] Collingwood, Robin George, and Robin George Collingwood. The idea of history. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1994.

[3] Collingwood, Robin George, and Robin George Collingwood. The idea of history. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1994.

[4] Collingwood, Robin George, and Robin George Collingwood. The idea of history. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1994.

[5] Collingwood, Robin George, and Robin George Collingwood. The idea of history. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1994.

[6] Collingwood, Robin George, and Robin George Collingwood. The idea of history. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1994.

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