The Truth of History
Modern relativism and postmodern thought in culture and language challenge the 'truth' of history. This book considers how all historians, confined by the concepts and forms of argument of their own cultures, can still discover truths about the past.
The Truth of History presents a study of various historical explanations and interpretations and evaluates their success as accounts of the past. C. Behan McCullagh contests that the variety of historical interpretations and subjectivity does not exclude the possibility of their truth. Through an examination of the constraints of history, the author argues that although historical descriptions do not mirror the past they can correlate with it in a regular and definable way.
Far from debating in the abstract and philosophical only, the author beds his argument in numerous illuminating concrete historical examples. The Truth of History explores a new position between the two extremes of believing that history perfectly represents the past and that history can tell us nothing true of the past.
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agent American Civil War Ankersmit argued argument assume basic meaning behaviour beliefs causal explanations causes chapter Charles Tilly circumstances coherence collective action common concepts context conventional cultural relativism culture deny depends describe descriptive explanations discover discussion dispositions economic effect English Civil War evidence example exist fact force French Revolution function functional explanations groups Hayden White historians historical descriptions historical subject human idea identify ideology illocutionary force important inferences instance interpretation involved justified kind knowledge language Lyotard Marxist McCullagh metaphorical Michael Oakeshott Mill's methods misleading narrative nature normally objective interests occurred outcome particular past patterns people's perceive perceptions political possible practice preconceptions probable produce R.H. Tawney rational choice theory reasons refer relations relevant revolution scepticism seems significance simply social change society sometimes statement structure suggest tendency theory things truth conditions understanding words