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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9994/history-as-fiction-designed-to-unite-us/

History as Fiction Designed to Unite Us

May 21, 2009 by

Until late in the 19th century, most historians regarded themselves neither as social scientists (a concept that did not even exist before the 19th century) nor as humanistic scholars, but rather as literary men, men of letters. The stories they were telling were true, of course, but nonetheless they were telling stories, just as though they were novelists, and their job, as they saw it, was to tell their stories as vividly and poetically as any novelist. FULL ARTICLE

{ 9 comments }

prettyskin May 21, 2009 at 10:35 am

Littered with quotes, the point skunked.

Here’s a better title: Fiction Purported as History to Justify Ill Behaviors.

Matt May 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Very good insight about the potential mindset of History writers and teachers.
This reminds me of my High School days when learning about the history of the WWI period.

We learned in our history book that the US declared war on Germany after the sinking of the Lusitania and the loss of US citizens, it was a British ship that had left New York for England.

At the time of sailing from New York there was printed on the front page of the New York times a warning by the German Embassy to US citizens not to board the ship, it may be sunk for Germany is at war with Britain.

I mentioned this to my history teacher in class as we discussed that days lesson…. the teacher did not address my comment and continued as if I had not even been in class…so much for the teaching of history unbiased.

This was a long time ago but the event in that class stuck in my memory. I learned that there was more to reading and teaching History than meets the eye’s mind.

david May 21, 2009 at 11:44 pm

A thick read to come to the same neologism as used on the Colbert Report. “Truthiness”–having the charactersistics of truth without necessarily being true in every detail

david May 21, 2009 at 11:45 pm

A thick read to come to the same neologism as used on the Colbert Report. “Truthiness”–having the charactersistics of truth without necessarily being true in every detail

Austroglide May 22, 2009 at 8:30 am

david writes,
“A thick read to come to the same neologism as used on the Colbert Report. “Truthiness”–having the charactersistics of truth without necessarily being true in every detail.”

Ah, but not just the identification of the fact of truthiness or its pervasiveness: an exploration also of the origins of truthiness and indeed, therefore, the introduction of the possibility – perhaps the necessity – of conducting historical investigation with a new methodology; namely, one according to which historians make explicit their metaphysics.

Michael A. Clem May 22, 2009 at 10:42 am

If history is to be accurate, like a science, then there should be a stronger distinction between raw historical facts and details, and someone’s interpretration of those facts. And naturally, the quality of interpretation depends upon who is doing the interpretation and how they are doing it. That would be one small step for [a] man, and one giant leap for mankind, as far as history goes. ;-)

Mac May 22, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Maxim time…

To know history, you must first know the historian.

Riggenbach at the very least made us aware that we should investigate the historian’s prejudices before we swallow their history. Historians themselves are aware that whatever message they want to present should come through the history. We should be aware of the prejudices that makes them want to do so.

Cheers

Chris Gardner May 23, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Jeff Riggenbach == “The Most Interesting Man in the World?”

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3652/3366688490_11257375e0.jpg

Outside Observer May 27, 2009 at 9:59 am

This article, and Matt’s comment, reminds me of an anecdote from many years ago. My eighth grade history teacher told my class that the history we learn in university will be nothing like the history we learn in high school.

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