History The Meaning and Role of History in Human Development

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THE MEANING AND ROLE OF HISTORY IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT History The Meaning and Role of History in. Human Development Bill Nasson, but to interpret to handle a rich variety of sources in order to draw out their general. relevance or to reveal their general significance for human understanding of why and. how change occurs Few historians would contest the view that history is not a science. as a discipline of study but is more a branch of the arts or humanities It can be seen at. most as a social science and even then could not be defined as scientific in any exact or. predictive sense, The purpose of this essay is to provide you with a series of perspectives intended to. convey a sense of the relevance breadth interest and stimulus which exemplify. historical learning and the usefulness of contemporary history in particular The text is. constructed as a set of guiding commentaries on the characteristics and place of history. in human existence ranging from its definition as historiography to its key contribution. to understanding of the interaction between present and future. Drawing on case material provided by a set of associated theme articles this overview. text seeks to provide you with a general sense of what it is historians do and how they. practice their craft focusing on four central assumptions First there is the question of. differing ways of using and reading evidence there is no true or single meaning to be. constructed from written or unwritten sources Second there is the issue of how much. we can actually learn from the past or of acknowledging the limits of historical. knowledge A third consideration is that historical questions can be asked in different. ways from multiple human perspectives And fourth there is the crucial question of the. uses to which history can be put The area of history is always challenging is it merely. the traditional narrative of the nation and the development of one or other kind of. society or is it also an exploration of the way life has been lived in households and. within family structures,1 Introduction, As the twentieth century has drawn to a close and we move into an expanding new era. the complex meanings intrinsic qualities purposes and value of history require serious. attention For the diverse and rich social foundations of life whether language material. culture national identity or the organization of work and politics are the palpable. inheritance of a resilient human past and if humanity is to plot a realizable future we. need to understand through history how it has achieved its present The usefulness of. history therefore is not only that it constantly offers new ways of viewing and. understanding the grip of the past it is also a means of generating the confidence about. and absorption of critical knowledge to produce a changing consciousness In bringing. the potential of human action to the center of investigation the dynamics of historical. understanding can contribute actively to the shaping of our future always emphasizing. that it can be one of possibilities and alternatives History then is a form of inquiry. which is never prescriptive or rigidly predictive about the impact of systems or of events. 2 The Meaning of History, In its very earliest known uses in human society history was simply a narrative account. of past events As a word it entered the English language from the French formulation. of histoire the Latin notion of historia and the Greek construction of istoria each of. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems EOLSS, THE MEANING AND ROLE OF HISTORY IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT History The Meaning and Role of History in.
Human Development Bill Nasson, which represented the basic sense of a knowledge of the past In these early concepts. the sense of history encompassed both an imaginative story of events and a narrative or. chronicle of past events In its early English usage history and story were generally. applied equally to any account of the past whether of imaginary events or of incidents. which were held to be true Such use of history for imagined or invented events is of. course a practice which has persisted at diminishing levels up to the present It. continues to be embedded especially in imaginative literature such as the novel This. can take the form of an attempt at fictional realism as in J G Farrell s 1970s story The. Singapore Grip which recreates the Japanese invasion of Singapore in 1941 blending. established historical facts with an invented story Or it can be the deliberate novelistic. fabrication of a counterfactual history as in Robert Harris s 1980s story Fatherland. which is based on the premise of Nazi Germany having won the Second World War. From roughly the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries onwards the meaning of history. moved more emphatically towards an account of past real events and the notion of. story drifted towards a set of uses which included less documented accounts of past. events and accounts of purely imagined events or fantasy History now began to take on. the distinctive character or sense of an organized knowledge of the past The notion of. some organization of knowledge of the past was a general extension of the earlier sense. of a specific written or oral account Through the development of this sense of history. emerged the distinctly modern meanings and role of historian historical and historic. Writers on historiography and culture confirm that in contemporary English this has. become the predominant and lasting general sense of history At the same time it is. important to note the growth of a further significant conception of history which goes. beyond the basic meaning of an organized knowledge of past life It is difficult to date. or to define its intellectual source exactly but it is the sense of history as something. continuous as human or self development This particular stage of thinking is. increasingly evident in European thought from around the eighteenth century and saw. early expression in the emergence of new forms of universal histories or world histories. based on the imperial sense of a discovery or physical charting of the world Adopting. the argument of the cultural critic Raymond Williams the clearest way of projecting. this newer post eighteenth century sense of history is to say that past events are viewed. not as specific or bounded histories but as a continuous and connected process. For historians various modern systemizations and interpretations of this continuous and. connected process then become history in a new general and increasingly abstract sense. Moreover in view of the prevailing new stress on the workings of history as human. self development history in many of its wider uses sheds its exclusive association with. knowledge of the past and becomes directly connected not only to the present but also. to the future Thus in a language such as German the terminology of Geschichte for. history carries the verbal connotation of a process which means an amalgam of past. present and future, In turn history encoded in this contemporary sense has drawn on several evolving. versions of more recent intellectual systems One has been the European Enlightenment. awareness of the progress and development of civilization Another has been rooted in. an idealist sense as reflected by the philosopher Hegel of an ineluctable process of. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems EOLSS, THE MEANING AND ROLE OF HISTORY IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT History The Meaning and Role of History in. Human Development Bill Nasson, world historical movement over time A third sense of process especially important. since the nineteenth century has been sharply political Here through a strong. association with first the French Revolution and subsequently with Marxism and. variants of socialist thought history has been construed as a range of mass historical. forces In this systemic sense of history its forces are products of the past which are not. only active and influential in the present but which will live on as imperatives destined. to shape the future in knowable or patterned ways Naturally there has always been. scholarly dispute between such varying understandings of history as a structured. process Furthermore there has always been controversy between advocates of history. as a systemic movement and others who have continued to view history as an account. or a series of accounts of actual but quite random past events In this looser conception. the sweep of history carries no clearly discernible design or implication of the shape of. the future, An influential twentieth century derivation from history is historicism or the.
identification of study of the past as being historicist One of its functional usages has. been both basic and neutral as a description of a method of scholarly study which is. based upon the assembling of facts of the past and the tracing of visible precedents to. explain current events A second sense of historicism has been more ideological in. intent and controversial in record Here it has been used abrasively to discredit the. deeper meaning of history as a continuing sequence of productive human stages a. process with ineluctable implications for the future At this level it has been used in. critiques not only of Marxism but also of Idealist and Enlightenment definitions of. history as an upward process, Some scholars have also suggested that it is not always easy to distinguish attacks on. history as historicism which essentially rejects the notion of history embodying a. necessary or probable future from associated attacks on the notion of any predictive. future in the sense of an improved or more developed life which uses the idea of a. lesson or of lessons of history in arguing against an uncritical hope or faith in human. progress This second cautionary perspective on history as a forward or optimistic. process has been a particularly striking feature of the twentieth century in particular In. contrast with the buoyant sense of positive achievement or promise of earlier versions. of historical movement history since the earlier twentieth century has commonly been. used to indicate a generally negative pattern of frustration breakdown or defeat or of. some explosion or implosion of the gains of civilization. Lastly we know that behind human ignorance of the present and uncertainty of the. future the historical forces which have shaped the world are continuing to operate. Equally at present it is probably no longer as easy as it once was to confirm which. sense or meaning of history is dominant Historian remains a fairly exact description. as in its earlier understanding Historical relates generally to a recorded sense of the. past Historic is largely used to imply the dimension of a large or deep process or. destiny History on the other hand retains something of the variety of meanings and. range of uses it has acquired across human time, At the same time today it can be said that in an almost universal sense history has. come to mean an organized knowledge and interpretation of the past a defining feature. Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems EOLSS, THE MEANING AND ROLE OF HISTORY IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT History The Meaning and Role of History in. Human Development Bill Nasson, which it shares with archaeology In this respect while it has a different and more. scientific character as a scholarly discipline archaeology may also be recognizable as a. variant of history As a distinctive and well established scholarly discipline history has. developed its own range of methods and discourses Its field of study continues to be. potentially limitless in that it encompasses the totality of past human experience That. field is also one of critical debate between varying approaches to history There are. major differences and even controversies between some who regard it as an account of. an actual past and others who view it in postmodern terms as entirely imagined or. subjective constructions of the past a projection of the identity and location of the. historian as author, On the other hand the matter and manner of history is something which can be readily.
validated History shares with literature art history of art and other laboratories of the. spirit and the mind a probing preoccupation with exploring the many hopes wonders. fears and darker contradictions of the human condition Historical understanding turns. on the movement of time and space on the living tissue which provides us with a sense. of the workings of cumulative forces teaches us about the workings of cause and effect. and most simply enlightens us about the past That provision of knowledge is of a. particularly special kind because it shows not only that history has brought humankind. to a particular point but how and why While the sense of what history is may continue. to differ among scholars it is a primary analytical lens which can teach or show us most. kinds of the knowable human past and virtually every kind of imaginable if not. predictable human future,3 History and its Focus, The fundamentally investigative approach to historical understanding can be. summarized as a set of guiding propositions In general these reflect the following. broad concerns, A fostering of vibrant and healthy critical debate between differing perspectives. interpretations and representations of aspects of the past. connected process then become history in a new general and increasingly abstract sense Moreover in view of the prevailing new stress on the workings of history as human self development history in many of its wider uses sheds its exclusive association with knowledge of the past and becomes directly connected not only to the present but also

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