Historical Knowledge, Historical Error A Contemporary Guide to Practice

ISBN-10: 0226518302

ISBN-13: 9780226518305

Edition: 2007

Authors: Allan Megill, Steven Shepard, Phillip Honenberger

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Description:

In the past thirty years, historians have broadened the scope of their discipline to include many previously neglected topics and perspectives. They have chronicled language, madness, gender, and sexuality and have experimented with new forms of presentation. They have turned to the histories of non-Western peoples and to the troubled relations between “the West” and the rest. Allan Megill welcomes these developments, but he also suggests that there is now confusion among historians about what counts as a justified account of the past. InHistorical Knowledge, Historical Error, Megill dispels some of the confusion. Here, he discusses issues of narrative, objectivity, and memory. He attacks what he sees as irresponsible uses of evidence while accepting the art of speculation, which incomplete evidence forces upon historians. Along the way, he offers succinct accounts of the epistemological road historians have traveled from Herodotus and Thucydides through Leopold von Ranke and Alexis de Tocqueville, and on to Hayden White, Natalie Zemon Davis, and Lynn Hunt.
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Book details

List price: $32.00
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 2/1/2007
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 304
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.166

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Need for Historical Epistemology
Memory
History with Memory, History without Memory
Memory versus History
History and the Present
Conflicting Attitudes toward the Past History's Legitimate Roles
History, Memory, Identity
Identity and the Memory Wave
Identity, Memory, and Historical Understanding History, Memory, and the Unknown
Narrative and Knowledge
Does Narrative Have a Cognitive Value of Its Own?
The "Crisis" of Narrative
The Epistemological Limits of Narrative
Narrative and the Four Tasks of History-Writing Explanation and Description
Narrative and Braudel's Mediterranean
The Four Tasks of History-Writing
Objectivity and Speculation
Objectivity for Historians
Objectivity and Commitment
Defining Objectivity
A Case Study in Historical Epistemology: What Did the Neighbors Know about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings?
A Disputed Case
Inference to the Best Explanation Thagard's Three Criteria
A Fourth Criterion
Inferring the Relationship
The Case for Our Alternative Account
Counterfactual History: On Niall Ferguson's Virtual History and Similar Works
Fragmentation
Fragmentation and the Future of Historiography: On Peter Novick's That Noble Dream
"Grand Narrative" and the Discipline of History
Four Ideal-Typical Attitudes toward the Overall Coherence of History
Four Postulates Suggested by the Preceding Account
Coherence and Incoherence in Historical Studies: From the Annales School to the New Cultural History
The Annales School and the Problem of Coherence
The Annales School: From Convergence to Multiplicity
Coherence as a Willed Commitment
Conclusion: Against Current Fashion
Notes
Index
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