Reading Response

Mapping the Discipline and Historical Consciousness

“Power and the proper utilization of it to achieve personal advantage formed his [Niccolo Machiaveli] great theme(32).” This was the beginnings of the study of history. Unlike mathematics to study history was unheard of because it was hard to show the relevance of it unless to show legitimacy to your position. Or used against it as Martin Luther had done to question the church. This shows the difference to ‘sacred and secular’ versions of history. Early scholars had trouble seeing the past the same as the people who lived it. “That which deserves the attention of all time, which paints the spirit and the customs of men, which may serve for instruction and to counsel the love of virtue, of the ares and of the fatherland, (38)”. Voltaire asked questions of history but only looked for answers with no factual evidence but personal sources or filled in the missing spaces himself. In doing this he did not give the past a chance to explain itself. Giambattista Vico brought up the idea of context and looking at history as the people who lived would have compared to Voltaire’s method.

Historical sources can vary and the methods of examining these sources are important to note for historians. Source material can better help to define eras and how the people of that time thought. History variations include periods or the time frame in which events are assigned to, this is important because it makes up the basic foundations for history. Others include methods, theories, places or setting, type of human history or anything that is not male Eurocentric, institutions deal with specific areas like churches or public welfare. While these are markers in history the three most basic and important areas of history are social, political, and economic. Economic and political history are wide spread and make up a large portion of the study of history, not so much for the social aspects of history. To study and look more into the social aspect of history means looking more into holistic methods of study to get to the personal interactions in history. This includes using new methods or approaches to get to those stories.

Historical Consciousness

Mapping the Discipline