chapter  1
11 Pages

Critical Issues in Historical Studies

ByWilliam Douglas Woody, Wayne Viney

Historical studies promote perspective, integration, context, and sensitivity to the fact that everything is in a complex environment of other things. Historical knowledge counsels against the glib acceptance of the latest fad or inflated idea. J. Jaynes pointed out that history may help us "liberate ourselves from the persuasions of fashions". M. T. Gilderhus suggests that peoples in traditional societies often lacked historical consciousness because immediate survival was their primary concern. A historical narrative can never recapture the fullness of lived experience. The presentist is tuned to the effects of inevitable selective, judgmental, and contextual forces in historical scholarship. Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung believed that history should serve the Communist revolution. But history serves best when it is free to treat political, religious, and philosophical ideologies in critical as well as appreciative ways. Issues surrounding presentism and past-mindedness have stimulated discussion in the historiography of the behavioral sciences.