""As a historian he is best known for his monumental History of Soviet Russia . followed by a new chapter, 'From E. H. Carr's Files: Notes towards a Second. Edward Hallett Carr was born in and educated at the Merchant Taylors' moralizing history, remarked that the task of the historian was 'simply to show. What Is History? is a study that was written by the English historian E. H. Carr. It was first Geschichtswissenschaft – oder: Der Beruf des Historikers“ (engl.: The historian´s craft), Department of History, Leibniz University Hanover [PDF; ger].
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tombdetercomi.cf March , What is history? Not everything that happens in the History, in the words of tombdetercomi.cfgwood, is the past as created in the present. What is History? E.H CARR Edward Hallett Carr's contribution to the study of Soviet history is widely regarded as highly distinguished. In all probability very few. Edward Hallett Carr What is tombdetercomi.cf - Free download as PDF File .pdf) or view presentation slides online.
It would be tempting, but wholly incorrect, to say that history's pendulum has swung far more to the notion of history as a construction or fabrication of the historian. Rather, what has happened, is that our contemporary conditions of existence have created a much deeper uncertainty about the nature of knowledge-creation and its mis- uses in the humanities.
It is not about swings in intellectual fashion. It follows, a growing number of historians believe that we don't 'discover' the truthful? I do not think many historians today are naive realists. Few accept there must be given meaning in the evidence.
While we may all agree at the event-level that something happened at a particular time and place in the past, its significance its meaning as we narrate it is provided by the historian. Meaning is not immanent in the event itself.
Moreover, the challenge to the distinction of fact and fiction as we configure our historical narratives, and further acknowledgments of the cognitive power of rhetoric, style and trope metaphors are arguments and explanations provide not only a formal challenge to traditional empiricism, but forces us to acknowledge that as historians we are making moral choices as we describe past reality.
Does all this add up to a more fundamental criticism of historical knowing than Carr imagined in What is History?? I think so. If this catalogue is what historical relativism means today, I believe it provides a much larger agenda for the contemporary historian than Carr's apparently radical at the time acceptance that the historian is in a dialogue with the facts, or that sources only become evidence when used by the historian.
As Jenkins has pointed out at some length, Carr ultimately accepts the epistemological model of historical explanation as the definitive mode for generating historical understanding and meaning Jenkins , This fundamentally devalues the currency of what he has to say, as it does of all reconstructionist empiricists who follow his lead.
This judgment is not, of course, widely shared by them. For illustration, rather misunderstanding the nature of "semiotics - the postmodern? To maintain, as Knight does, that Carr is thus in some way pre-empting the postmodern challenge to historical knowing is unhelpful to those who would seriously wish to establish Carr's contribution in What is History?. It would be an act of substantial historical imagination to proclaim Carr as a precursor of post- modernist history.
Carr is also not forgotten by political philosopher and critic of post-modernist history Alex Callinicos, who deploys him somewhat differently. In his defence of theory in interpretation Marxist constructionism in this case , Callinicos begins with the contribution of a variety of so called relativist historians of which Carr is one others include Croce, Collingwood, Becker and Beard.
Acknowledging the "discursive character of historical facts" Callinicos 76 Callinicos quotes Carr's opinion following Collingwood that the facts of history never come to us pure, but are always refracted through the mind of the historian.
For Callinicos this insight signals the problem of the subjectivity of the historian, but doesn't diminish the role of empirically derived evidence in the process of historical study. Of course Carr tried to fix the status of evidence with his own objections to what he understood to be the logic of Collingwood's sceptical position. Collingwood's logic could, claims Carr, lead to the dangerous idea that there is no certainty or intrinsicality in historical meaning - there are only what I would call the discourses of historians - a situation which Carr refers to as "total scepticism" - a situation where history ends up as "something spun out of the human brain" suggesting there can be no "objective historical truth" Carr Carr's objectivist anchor is dropped here.
He explicitly rejected Nietzsche's notion that historical? Historians ultimately serve the evidence, not vice versa. This guiding precept thus excludes the possibility that "one interpretation is as good as another" even when we cannot as we cannot in writing history guarantee 'objective or truthful interpretation'. Carr wished to reinforce the notion that he was a radical.
As he said in the preface to the Second Edition of What is History? But his contribution really lies in the manner in which he failed to be an epistemological radical. In the precise manner of his return to the Cartesian and foundationalist fold lies the importance of What is History? The book's distinction resides in its exploration and rapid rejection of epistemological scepticism - what I call post-empiricism.
From the first chapter Carr accepts relativism would an unacceptable price to pay for imposing the historian on the past beyond his narrow definition of dialogue. Dialogue even cast as interrogation is all very well and good, but an intervention that cannot ultimately become objective is quite another matter.
After all, Carr argues, it is quite possible to draw a convincing line between the two. This argument still appeals to many historians today for whom the final defence against the relativism of deconstructionism lies in the technical and forensic study of the sources through the process of their authentication and verification, comparison and colligation. In Britain, most realist-inspired and empiricist historians thus happily accept the logical rationalisation of Carr's position - that of the provisional nature of historical interpretation.
This translates inevitably and naturally it is argued as historical revisionism re-visionism? The provisionality of historical interpretation is a perfectly normal and natural historian's state-of-affairs that depends on discovering new evidence and revisiting old evidence for that matter , treating it to fresh modes analysis and conceptualisation, and constantly re- contextualising it.
For illustration, in my working career since the early s the omission of women in history has been 'rectified', and now has moved through several historiographical layers to reach its present highly sophisticated level of debate about the possibility for a feminist epistemology ies.
So, new evidence and new theories can always offer new interpretations, but revisionist vistas still correspond to the real story of the past because they correspond to the found facts. In fact, with each revision narrative version?
So, we are for ever inching our way closer to its truth? Arthur Marwick makes the claim that by standing on " Standing on the shoulders of other historians is, perhaps, a precarious position not only literally but also in terms of the philosophy of history. No matter how extensive the revisionary interpretation, the empiricist argument maintains that the historical facts remain, and thus we cannot destroy the knowability of past reality even as we re-emphasise or re- configure our descriptions.
Marxists and Liberals alike sustain this particular non sequitur which means they can agree on the facts, legitimately reach divergent interpretations and, it follows, be objective. The truth of the past actually exists for them only in their own versions. For both, however, the walls of empiricism remain unbreached. The empiricist-inspired Carr- endorsed epistemological theory of knowledge argues that the past is knowable via the evidence, and remains so even as it is constituted into the historical narrative.
This is because the 'good' historian is midwife to the facts, and they remain sovereign. They dictate the historian's narrative structure, her form of argumentation, and ultimately determine her ideological position. For Carr, as much as for those who will not tarry even for the briefest of moments with the notion of epistemological scepticism, Hayden White's argument that the historical narrative is a story as much invented as found, is inadmissible because without the existence of a determinate meaning in the evidence, facts cannot emerge as aspects of the truth.
Most historians today, and l think it is reasonable to argue Carr also endorses this view in What is History? But Carr's unwillingness to accept the ultimate logic of, in this instance, the narrative impositionalism of the historian, and his failure to recognise the representational collapse of history writing, even as he acknowledges that "the use of language forbids him to be neutral" Carr 25 , has helped blind many among the present generation of British historians to the problematic epistemological nature of the historical enterprise.
Take the vexed issue of facts. Carr's answer to the question "What is a historical fact? It is how the historian then arranges the facts as derived from the evidence, and influenced by her knowledge of the context, that constitutes historical meaning.
For Carr a fact is like sack, it will not stand up until you put 'something' in it.
The 'something' is a question addressed to the evidence. As Carr insists, "The facts speak only when the historian calls on them: it is he who decides to which facts to give the floor, and in what order or context" Carr It is easy to see why Elton and others like Arthur Marwick misconstrue the Collingwood- Carr position when Carr says such things because, if pushed a little further allows historians to run the risk of subjectivity through their intervention in the reconstruction of the past.
Carr, of course, denies that risk through his objectivist bottom line. There is clear daylight between this position and that occupied by Hayden White. It is that while historical events may be taken as given, what Carr calls historical facts are derived within the process of narrative construction. They are not accurate representations of the story immanent in the evidence and which have been brought forth set free?
Since the 's Carr's arguments have moved to a central place in British thinking and now constitute the dominant paradigm for moderate reconstructionist historians. This is because, as Keith Jenkins has demonstrated, Carr pulls back from the relativism which his own logic, as well as that of Collingwood, pushes him.
In the end Carr realises how close to the postempiricist wind he is running, so he rejects Collingwood's insistence on the empathic and constitutive historian, replacing her with another who, while accepting the model of a dialogue between past events and future trends, still believes a sort of objectivity can be achieved.
This then is not the crude Eltonian position. It is a claim to objectivity because it is position leavened by a certain minimum self-reflexivity.
This is a conception of the role of the historian affirmed by the most influential recent American commentators Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob who claim there can be no postmodern history by repeating almost exactly Carr's fastidious empiricist position. Carr received only one oblique reference in their book Telling the Truth About History which may help explain why they re-packed Carr's position as practical realism Appleby, Hunt and Jacob , passim.
Is it that his position is so central to the intellectual culture of mainstream history that it wasn't even necessary to reference him? In the early 's the historian Andrew Norman endorsed the Carr mainstream position more directly by arguing writing history necessitates historians engaging directly with the evidence "A good historian will interact dialogically with the historical record" Norman Facts in history are thus constituted out of the evidence when the historian selects sources contextually in order to interpret and explain that to which they refer, rather than in the narrative about which they describe.
It is because Carr remains at the end of the day a convinced objectivist despite or because of? Trevelyan Lectures he delivered at the University of Cambridge in early It was his own judgement that his intellectual and ideological journey took him a long way from the immature liberalism of his younger days to his later leftist political radicalism.
This early position was soon tempered by his Russian experiences and the writing his first book a study of Dostoevsky Combining a writing career with progress in the FO Carr became a First Secretary in the year in which he also published a book on Alexander Herzen and his circle The Romantic Exiles.
Through his interest in Bakunin, Carr's intellectual journey brought him into contact with Marx. The coming of the Second World War as he said 'numbed the thinking process' p. The first glimmerings of socialism if not Marxism were apparent. Around that time he determined to write a history of the Russian Revolution and subsequent events.
This resulted in starting his expansive and generous multi-volume study A History of Soviet Russia. Perhaps, given the context of his subject matter and the Cold War environment he was increasingly seen as an apologist for the USSR and its policies. But, far more importantly from today's perspective he was also inevitably for a bright historian?
Professor Cox's volume does very good justice to a man of enormous professional and intellectual range. The collection is divided into four sections dealing each in turn with Carr's life and times, the Russian question, international relations and What is History?
The Introduction by the editor is particularly helpful, especially to those Carr novices who will turn to the book in quite large numbers I hope and suspect to find out about the Great Man. Professor Cox carefully links the man and the career. He connects the passion and the history written. He couples the historian to the foundation of international relations as an academic discipline.
Carr's views on world politics are explained as are his controversial attitude at various times to Germany and the Soviet Union, the West, the USA and capitalism, and his generally dissenting political positions. Professor Cox asks how we should judge Carr? Was he, as his critics suggest, just a man of his times, now nothing more than a curio?
A historian always associated with a failed economic and political system? Literally, perhaps, he was the Last Man, and was the last author of a certain kind of history?
Or should he be seen as an historian whose influence over the discipline of? IR is greater now than it has ever been, and whose views on the nature of history are even more pertinent today especially in the face of the continued postmodern threat as perpetually denounced by various know-nothing historians like Marwick? This book will certainly help its readers to make up their own minds unless they are already made up?
In these terms I would warmly recommend all historians who care about historical thinking and practice to read this collection. A short summary of what the reader will find may be helpful.
They point up his outcast nature and career. After reading this section, I started to feel one might reasonably question the worth of the definition offered in it of an academic outcast as not being a Professor of History at Oxford or Cambridge.
At any rate, Carr's search for meaning led him to a somewhat fraught eleven years at Aberystwyth while also writing pro-Russian leaders for The Times as he became known the Red Professor of Printing House Square. Davies friend and collaborator of Carr , Stephen White, the editor Michael Cox and Hillel Ticktin write the second section in four chapters. This part of the collection deals with Carr's evolving attitude toward the Soviet Union within the context of the Cold War, how the Soviet Union received and responded to his work not always favourably , his close relationship with Isaac Deutscher and an analysis of Carr's Anglo-empiricist Marxism.
The third section written in five chapters by Peter Wilson, Paul Rich, Tim Dunne, Andrew Linklater and Fred Halliday, speaks to Carr's contribution to the founding of the discipline of international relations. In sum, the conclusion seems to be that Carr's gift to the embryonic discipline was intellectual.
Specifically, in that he had a peculiar view of the sociology of knowledge, notably in terms of his realist sense of relativism, the role of circumstance in history and of power disguised as truth. But equally Carr understood that realism was and is?
The final section of the book is composed of three chapters written by Anders Stephanson, Keith Jenkins and Randall Germain and examines Carr' philosophy of history. For Stephanson and Germain Carr is a problematic thinker in that he really failed to answer the questions he sets himself about history but his What is History?
For Jenkins, who injects a disturbing and dark sense of the ultimate futility of the empirical-analytical paradigm in which Carr worked, Carr is 'out of date' p. For Jenkins and unlike most historians, presumably including the other contributors to this collection?
By his own admission An Autobiography written for Tamara Deutscher in and reprinted in the in the first section of the collection Carr claims to his always feeling as something of a dissident. It seems to me this can only refer to his mature ideological position as a sort of humanist anti-Positivist Marxist. It cannot refer to his view of history, which it has always seemed to me as it does to Keith Jenkins the author of Chapter Fourteen , to be that of a mainstream constructionist.
As Jenkins points out in this collection and in his own On 'What is History?