By Michael Stanford
This booklet publications scholars via the entire principal old thoughts, theories, tools and difficulties confronting these engaged within the critical research of historical past.
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Extra resources for A Companion to the Study of History
What of literature? Are Sophocles and Plato, Homer, Virgil and Dante, Augustine and Shakespeare overtopped by their modern counterparts? What of morality? Has there been notable advance upon the teachings of Christ, or even upon those of the Hebrew prophets, of Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster or Confucius several centuries before him? Let us suppose that you wish to establish the fact of progress in one particular field over a stated period. These problems will confront you: an agreed interpretation of the evidence; the possibility of comparison; perhaps the establishment of valid statistical series; the determination of the beliefs, values and expectations of various groups of people; the evaluation of particular achievements and states of affairs; the balances of 19 See, for example, C.
Parker (1990), ch. 2. 20 Pollard (1971) p. 13. html [5/29/2009 12:12:48 AM] page_21 < previous page page_21 next page > Page 21 gains and losses. Progress cannot be taken for granted. On the other hand, is it worth all this effort to prove it? Most historians today (unlike their predecessors) rarely attempt it. The processes that we have examined do not constitute the true unity of history. It has unity of a more subtle and tougher kind as the following chapters, I hope, will show. Conclusion History is a unity.
From these beginnings our technology has reached the point where it inflicts dangerous damage upon the planet 5 The idea of recurrence is explored at length in Trompf (1979). However, in my view he does not sufficiently emphasize the distinction between the historical agents' deliberate imitation of the past and the historian's observation of the recurrence of one period in another. 6 See Marx (1977) p. 160. html [5/29/2009 12:12:54 AM] page_28 < previous page page_28 next page > Page 28 not least in those very polities that were most inspired by Marx.
A Companion to the Study of History by Michael Stanford