Authoring Histories.

If history is the interpretation of facts by historians, then the past must just be a complex and messy plethora of information. Who then, holds the responsibility of authoring histories, and who decided on the importance of facts? This is dependent on the social context of the society prevalent at the time of interest, as historical facts are only seen through present day eyes. Therefore, it is the responsibility of historians to interpret facts, and present them in a non bias, objective way. However, this is not always the case, as the “historian collects [facts], takes them home and cooks and serves them in whatever style appeals to him”. It therefore follows that basic facts are the raw materials essential to the historian, rather than of history itself. Furthermore, for a fact to be deemed credible or tangible, it must be significant and widely accepted by a multitude of various historians. So then, if a fact is not widely accepted, but is actually true, does this mean it is not part of history?

The interest or social stance of a society at a particular time will heavily influence the presentation of facts as history. For example, it is widely known what fifth-century Greece was like to an Athenian citizen, but little was documented from the perspective of a Persia, Corinthian or Theban. This bias viewpoint highlights the inequality in recording and representation of historical facts. Therefore, can a historian be classed as objective, or will there always be a concern with representing a subjective view of history, no matter how slight? The historical recording process is one of general consensus, and ultimately depends on the power position of those concerned.

On the contrary, Positivism is concerned with an objective reality, and seeks to classify the world and historical facts. A central ideology of this approach to history is that the process of documentation should be highly scientific, and therefore rely on objective observations of the world. Which  approach is correct or more accepted is difficult to address. Overall, the act of authoring histories is dependent on many factors, and is clearly a difficult process to monitor.

J.

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