With reference to the source and other sources, discuss how this interpretation of history compares with your own view. Answer: The Problem of historical objectivity is the fact that history was and will always stay subjective as long as historians have different moral values and beliefs. Historical objectivity challenges historical construction and the way historians find evidence to reconstruct the past.
The differing perspectives towards how history is interpreted are expressed through the historians Keith Jenkins; Herodotus; Marc Bloch and Edward Hallett Carr and the text written by Albert Prior Fell. The text, “That noble dream: The problem of historical objectivity” written by Albert Prior Fell, raises a lot of very significant points regarding the impossibility of achieving historical objectivity. The constant reconstructing of history over time portrays the difficulty of achieving an absolute and accurate portrayal from the early days of ancient history to modern history.
In Albert’s text he states the idea that historians tend to seek “the objective truth”, but it is only a “noble dream” because of the unavoidable subjectivity that historians mark on their work. Which exemplifies on the idea that History is a very subjective topic and the idea that historians can or is “objective” is hard to comprehend because, as much as historians try to keep their work unbiased, it is quite hard not to let our minds and opinions intrude our work. In summary, Albert states, “…. ut also that in approaching their work the reader has to have a keen sense of the fact that historians did not have all the evidence nor did they use it in a way which is beyond question; qualification and dispute”, hence this is evident that albert prior fell also believes history is subjective and the idea of objective history is just a “problem”. Herodotus was a Greek researcher and story teller from the fifth century BCE, and is known as the world’s first historian.
He was among the first to approach the reporting of history in a logical and sceptical way; he tried to separate true events from myth, and made a point of identifying his sources and nothing his trust in them. This “trust” is an example of the nature of the subjectiveness within his work. In Herodotus’s work, he used the word history several times and meant it as a “rational enquiry into the past”, which established the meaning for western historical writing.
Herodotus historical interpretations were always affected by his personal beliefs where his personal belief was that gods’ hand could be deduced in everything. Hence, it can be concluded with evidence relating back to Herodotus’s historical work, that he himself was subjective towards his historical projects. As they were mostly affected by his deep beliefs in religion; god and supernatural causation. The Aim of his work was essentially aimed to “preserve the memory of great deeds of renown for future generation” and he established the idea the truth was impossible to ascertain.
Hence, it can be concluded with the idea that knowing Herodotus’s work was so old, the only way he preserved his historical work was by voice, where only the words of others provided history. In contrast with Marc Bloch’s work; he argues that history was never a study of the mere past because the historian would integrate their contemporary views and ideologies into their work as he states: “the past and present would be intertwined”.
Marc Bloch was a Jewish historian who was committed to liberal values of the 20th century France. He was the founder of the school of history he called for total history drawing from psychology, geography, literature, economics, sociology and history. Marc Bloch deeply believed that history was more of an art form because unlike science, it required human intuition for interpretation and comprehension.
In Saying “human intuition”, it also meant that history reflects a human’s belief, even though it was not the main aim of the historical work, the historians subjectivity would be printed in their work regardless. He stressed upon the idea that the work of the historian should be to “identify the truth, the false and the probable” as historians are doubly “prone to weakness and fragility of human memory”. Proving the idea that historian to be objective is just problematic and highly unlikely to happen.
Similar to Marc Bloch’s idea of Objective history, Keith Jenkins once quoted “History is a shifting, problematic discourse, ostensibly about an aspect of the world, the past that is produced by a group of present minded workers”, he was a man who deeply believed that each generation of historians, write their own history, hence in a subjective manner. He believes that objectiveness in history is impossible, as he opposed writing from a specific perspective, whether this is deliberate or unknowingly. In Contrast from Keith Jenkins, Edward Carr once quoted: “We must study the historian, before we can study what he has one to the facts”, which expresses the idea that what a historian may say, might not always be the truth, as subjectivity may affect the way a historian may write. Although Edward Carr quotes this, he still believed that although objectivity is hard to achieve, a historian can achieve such history where he “hopes one could rise” to achieve objectivity. With this being said, it can be concluded with the idea that, Edward Carr was an open minded historian who would closely analyse and find facts before beginning to criticise one others work.
Hence stating the concept that although objective history can be problematic, it is not impossible, and if there was objective history, it would make history more acknowledged. He portrays this idea within his quote: “When we call a historian objective, we mean I think two things. That he has a capacity to rise about the limited version of his own situation in society and in history, that he has the capacity to project his vision into the future in such a way as to give him a more profound and more lasting insight into the past”.
In conclusion, with evidence from Keith Jenkins; Herodotus; Marc Bloch; Edward Carr and Albert Prior Fell, it can be said that “The past is sublime and the content is as much invented as found”, meaning that to study or reconstruct the past is only a subjective thoughts that will help us to complete the task, where even if we study the past, we will never be able to be objective as our ego’s demolish the truth from being told.