INTRODUCTION TO HISTORY
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, and
to mature is to make progress. History is the barometer of this progress
of mankind. The very term 'History' stands for sharply different concepts,
although they are related. These could be past human events, past actuality,
and the record of these past events. The process or technique of making
these records or the process by which these records are made could be
said to be history.
Actually the word 'History' is taken from German word
'Geschichte' which means an intelligible and significant narrative of
the past events.
Ranke (an eminent historian) has said, "All history
is a political history." It is a totality of the experiences of
man. History has many dimensions. It is passionate, intimate.
Day-to-day occurrences, all infinite happenings are deeply related
in some or the other manner to history.
It was believed for a long time that history
was a record of facts, and these facts served as the raw material
for historians or writers of history. The historians pick up the
true events and facts; then they arrange them in a proper manner,
in the proper context.
In the 19th century, some historians challenged
the primacy of facts and in its place ’The Philosophy of History’
was advocated. The great historian and philosopher of history
Croce (an Italian) in his thesis expressed that ’History
consists essentially in seeing the past through the eyes of the
present and in the light of the problems. The main job of an historian
is not to record but to evaluate.’
History is a very rich subject not very easy
to define and evaluate. Moreover it is an analysis of facts. As
these facts involve a lot of subjective matter, history written
in a particular period bears an imprint of that time. According
to E. H. Carr, "History consists of the corpus of ascertainable
facts. The facts are available to the historian in documents,
inscriptions and so on, like fish on the monger’s slab. The historian
collects them, takes them home, and cooks and serves them in whatever
style appeals to him."
He defines History as "an unending dialogue between
the past and the present, the chief function of the historian
is to master and understand the past as a key to understand the
Prof. A. J. Rouse, while giving a definition
of history has said that history is essentially a record of the
life of men in societies in their geographical and their physical
environment. Their social and cultural environments arise from
the interaction of the one with the other, the society, and its
- Selective Study of the Past
An historian has to resort to picking and choosing
historical facts. It is difficult to recollect the entire past
because of human limitations. Besides this, there are less relevant
records. The historians select the material on the basis of certain
concepts, regulations, formulae and generalizations. However,
some historians hold the opinion that the major part of human
actions, thoughts and words go unobserved. Due to this the records
that come down to a historian are insufficient for the writing
of history. According to Prof. Goths Chalk "most of the history
as recorded is only the surviving part of the recorded part of
the remembered part of the observed part of that whole."
Introduction to History
General Introduction to the History of Europe
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