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legality of history

 
 
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 01:34 pm
@Resha Caner,
History can never ever tell the whole story, you need to live it to really understand it and even then we are fed different versions of the same story.Just look at the daily rags and see how perspective or politics can give you the impression of reading two different events.I to love history, the problem with british history it is mostly about the kings and queens.It does give you a philosophical look at how humans act when given absolute power or the chance to obtain it.Macbeth's "blood will have blood they say" sums up most of our history...........Sorry i gave the impression of passionate hatred towards you damned rebs..Just be aware when you sleep and you hear the sound of the fifes and the rattle of the snares, it may well be us red coats taking back whats rightfully ours, pull that blanket over your head and pray brother pray..Xris
Phronimos
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 01:50 pm
@xris,
That doesn't mean all interpretations are equal. History seems to me to be less about specific facts and events, and more so a continuing dialogue about about what those facts mean. Most contemporary academic history by the way has moved away from 'the history of dead white men,' as the history of political elites have often been characterized, although that has been slower to transition to the lower rungs of education.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 02:20 pm
@Phronimos,
Phronimos wrote:
That doesn't mean all interpretations are equal. History seems to me to be less about specific facts and events, and more so a continuing dialogue about about what those facts mean. Most contemporary academic history by the way has moved away from 'the history of dead white men,' as the history of political elites have often been characterized, although that has been slower to transition to the lower rungs of education.
The lower rungs of historic education as you call it are no less relevant to those who choose to follow it. Social history of the peasant or the effect of the feudal system on medieval farmers may interest you but they bore the pants of me.If you accept certain facts as legitimate it becomes an academic discussion rather than the search for truth.Finding out that Henry VIII had scurvy rather than the pox and the effect on his character holds more interest than the social standing of the miller.If you want to understand others history or educate the masses on worldly historic issues thats fine. Formal education left me behind fifty years ago..
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 02:39 pm
@Phronimos,
Phronimos wrote:
EDIT: After reading the rest of the posts in this thread, I don't think you're initial characterization was as reductionist as I initially thought. We probably just disagree about when a majority consensus was generated during the war.
In the absence of formal polling it's impossible to know for sure, but I completely agree that it came on gradually. It also waxed and waned. After the British took New York and then Philadelphia, and Washington's army was freezing in Valley Forge, the spirit and commitment to war were both low. After the British withdrew from Boston, after Trenton, and after the British suffered crushing attrition from late battles (like Guilford Courthouse), the morale was extremely high.

So when does it matter? I mean by the time of Yorktown, when the war was essentially over, I'd bet that there was a great deal of unanimity about independence.

But as I've mentioned, in the very beginning of the war, this was a local problem in Boston and its surroundings, and did not generalize into a movement.
0 Replies
 
Phronimos
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 06:07 pm
@xris,
xris;54806 wrote:
The lower rungs of historic education as you call it are no less relevant to those who choose to follow it.


Meaning what? I'm not sure if we are talking about the same issues here.

Quote:
Social history of the peasant or the effect of the feudal system on medieval farmers may interest you but they bore the pants of me.If you accept certain facts as legitimate it becomes an academic discussion rather than the search for truth.


How does accepting a fact like say x number of students were shot at anti-war protests at Jackson State and Kent State morph the discussion into an 'academic' one as opposed to a 'search for truth?' It seems to me that we care a lot less about the how, what, and when questions after a certain point than we do about the why questions.

Also, while certain things like studying the evolution of German architecture, public festivals, and ideas of aesthetics initially appear quite dull, they become much more stimulating once their potential influence is re-situated against the backdrop of forging a collective national identity: ultimately something with huge global implications, probably much more so than whether or not Henry VIII died of pox or scurvy. Such studies also might offer avenues into more current issues.
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Mar, 2009 07:50 pm
@xris,
Phronimos, while I agree with you that historical science is about interpretation of data rather than pure data, that doesn't differentiate it per se from a pure science. The problem is that the data are all incomplete and worse yet retrospective (so the pertinent questions are asked post facto). Add on the number of confounding variables, and the conclusions speak more about trends than about solid facts. That's why corroboration seems to be the key to historical science -- you fortify your conclusions if 10 crappy bits of data all point to the same thing, as compared with one crappy bit of data all by itself.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 03:30 am
@Aedes,
I can understand the academic necessity of certain studies in history but for me as an interest it has to have romance.Understanding the psyche of a 18c colonist in rural America is so much more interesting than trying to answer why french students rioted in the 60s.What we dont do very often is consider why we accept history and the consequences without saying do we have responsibilities even after 300 years.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 09:17 am
@xris,
Romance is a projection, though. It's something that Civil War reenactors apply to the Civil War and Renaissance Fair enthusiasts apply to the Renaissance and Middle Ages. The psyche of colonial Americans versus contemporary French students is not of any inherently different interest -- it's you who value them differently. I'm actually not particularly interested in colonial American history, but I live down the street from one of the major Revolutionary battlefields and I lived for most of my life in Connecticut and Boston, surrounded by colonial-era history (and in the latter case revolutionary history). So I've read a few books and a bunch of papers about it, but I don't find inherent romance in it.

We accept history based on the credibility of the evidence. What we don't do very well is disclose the methods and limitations, especially of fragmentary sources. As for our responsibilities, this is a post-modern phenomenon in the social sciences, i.e. we find it more comfortable to divorce our preconceptions and ideologies from our discoveries. But it's not perfect, nor will it ever be.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 09:48 am
@Aedes,
Should we as a community accept our effects on others or do we accept it was another time with different values and give it as our excuse?
What in history gives you goose bumps ? whats the smell of past events that excites you..I'm drawn to Elizabethan England and the Tudors but not for academic reasons.Ive seen the in depth studies of historic periods my kids and now my grandchildren do and i find its ok if the subject interests you but if it dont my oh my what a bore..
0 Replies
 
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 11:41 am
@xris,
Lessons can and should be derived from history, but the caveat always applies that identical conditions never appear twice. I think our primary duty is to avoid idealizing ourselves.

I don't really romanticize any historical period unto itself. I minored in Medieval Studies in college, and I was always interested in the art and literature from that era, though I have no illusions about life being easy during that period.

The era I read the most about, though, is eastern Europe during WWII, because my grandparents and their families got caught smack in the middle of it, so I personally identify with that region / period / events. And personal connection aside, the period from Operation Barbarossa through the Battle of Berlin was the closest humanity has ever come to the apocalypse. Tens of millions of dead, utter wastage and brutality, cities leveled to the ground, mass suffering on a stunning scale. It's the anti-romantic aspect of history. It helps to have a nadir sometimes -- to know exactly what we're capable of and how bad it can get. And the good aspects of the time -- the resiliency of everyone who somehow made it through this war -- hold yet other lessons about humanity and survival.

Along similar lines, I've become very interested in the history of West Africa mainly as a result of travelling and working there -- but also because I see them as another region that has suffered from violence, exploitation, and neglect, and I see their voices and stories as being lost as they become further marginalized.

I've read a lot of epic poetry from Mali, which was the center of three major empires in medieval West Africa, and I've actually seen bards -- yes, real live bards -- singing the stories of these ancient kings like Sunjata Keita and Askia Mohammed.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 12:37 pm
@Aedes,
I feel really envious of your varied experiences and i admire your zest for learning..xris
0 Replies
 
Elmud
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 03:14 pm
@xris,
Don't know how accurate the movie was, but somehow this topic brought the movie Braveheart to mind.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 03:43 pm
@Elmud,
Elmud wrote:
Don't know how accurate the movie was, but somehow this topic brought the movie Braveheart to mind.
movies and reality? film industry dont recognise facts just box office receipts..
Elmud
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 05:44 pm
@xris,
xris wrote:
movies and reality? film industry dont recognise facts just box office receipts..
Good movie though. That ole crookshanks or longshanks or whatever, now he was a real *****.
Phronimos
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Mar, 2009 11:06 pm
@xris,
xris wrote:
I can understand the academic necessity of certain studies in history but for me as an interest it has to have romance.Understanding the psyche of a 18c colonist in rural America is so much more interesting than trying to answer why french students rioted in the 60s.What we dont do very often is consider why we accept history and the consequences without saying do we have responsibilities even after 300 years.


I do think you hit on a very key point: empathy is a crucial quality to most historians. In a big sense, reconstructing the past requires reconstructing what it was like for the people(s) who lived it, the "smell of the past" so to speak. In this sense, I do think personal interest and passion are important, but not to the point where one's romance with the past unnecessarily burdens and warps the representation of it.
0 Replies
 
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Mar, 2009 03:39 am
@Elmud,
Elmud wrote:
Good movie though. That ole crookshanks or longshanks or whatever, now he was a real *****.
Long shanks Edward 1,hammer of the Scots.Interestingly they say he looked very much like the tall welsh bowman his mother Eleanor had a liaison with.They say if it was true and many say he was nothing like his father but looked like a twin of the bowman, his younger brothers line should inherit the throne.The nearest relative is a sheep farmer in Australia, our true King of England.I love these stories.
0 Replies
 
 

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