Question by libertyecg: How has the nature of historic interpretation changed since the tardy nineteenth century?
How has the nature of historical interpretation changed since the late nineteenth century?
Answer by Jameso
Well, this is a mammoth topic, and depends to some degree on what period or topic of history you’re studying. Simply, though, in the late 19th C, there were schools of history that liked to interpret history as heading towards something. Marx saw history as inevitably leading to world revolution. ‘Whig’ historians thought that history was the story of progress, of societies becoming freer and more democratic (the Whig view has a good number of followers today, even if they wouldn’t describe themselves that way). However, it’s become more important in the modern age to base conclusions firmly on research, and not to draw too many conclusions unless absolutely certain- to let the research decide the interpretation, and not the other way around. Historians are less likely to express opinions on what it all means, because there are so often too many exceptions and interpretations for any one simple view to be the main one.
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