What is history? How can we know history is true? What makes a particular time in history important? Can we draw conclusions about it? The answer depends on your perspective and the question at hand. The most popular definition of history is “the life of man in time.”
There are several different scales that historians use to determine the truth of a particular time and place. Some historians use national, regional, and supranational scales, which are larger than those of the sciences. Whether a specific scale is appropriate depends on the goals of the historian, but it is important to remember that history is a subjective discipline. As such, historians may come to contradictory conclusions, even when they use the same sources.
Philosophers have long debated the meaning of history, and some have sought to discover a larger organizing theme. Others have sought to demonstrate a divine order or a broader pattern in human history. Some have even tried to define history as a kind of cultural science, and this is problematic as well. But one thing remains clear: history can open spaces for critical possibilities in our times. This means recovering history. Here are some of the main questions to consider:
Human events in the twentieth century are complex, with thousands of active participants, thousands of victims, and countless groups and ideologies. Historians must find ways to tell these stories in a way that conveys the human experience. They must research how far crimes went and document the experiences of those who were living through them. The process of researching such events requires that historians challenge their own assumptions, including the nature of individual motivation and behavior. They must also revisit their causation hypotheses.
For many people, studying history is a great passion. For others, it is a way to get a job. The poetry of history is compelling and many have a burning desire to learn what really happened in the past. Historically, many major tourist attractions have been based on a historical concept. Historians can provide the necessary contextual knowledge for a tour guidebook. They can also help people find the meaning of a public monument or war memorial.
Philosophers of history often draw on the philosophy of literature to inform and interpret events. In the modern European tradition, the philosophy of history is an interpretive tool that attempts to discern broad patterns and directions in human history. For example, German philosophers Vico and Herder sought to discover the meaning of history through meta-historical analysis. The hermeneutic tradition has also been relevant to philosophy of history. There are many ways to interpret history. It all depends on how historians approach it.
The primary goal of historians is to make sense of past events. They attempt to explain events by interpreting the motives and thoughts of the actors. The goals of history are often to help readers understand how important events were. The process of interpreting historical events involves significant conceptual work, including examining the histories of individuals and entire populations. So it is essential to understand what the history of an event means to the actors involved. So the question: how can we know it?