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A Companion to the Study of History by Michael Stanford

By Michael Stanford

This publication publications scholars via the entire significant historic ideas, theories, equipment and difficulties confronting these engaged within the severe research of heritage.

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Scholars of today who are influenced by some theory of economics, anthropology, sociology tend to find hidden patterns and forces in history. Comparative historians look for them; many historians, especially the French, think they have found them . . The common characteristic of all these theory-inspired writers is that they underplay the role of chance. They tend to believe that events follow a set course a course that the application of their theory will enable them to determine. Thus they discount the chance event and argue that even if it had turned out otherwise, the long-term consequences would still have been much the same.

18 So what of that question about the use of history? 2 What is the use of the historian? The answer is that it must not be asked of history(1), since that was made up of men and women of worth and dignity like our own. It can be asked only of the study of history history(2). I have analysed above the actions that we take to realize our ends, so now let us see what use history(2) may be to each of the four elements of that action. (A brief illustration was given on pp. ) 3 The Uses of History for Action: (a) The Aim Since actions point forward, it does not often happen that history supplies the aim.

17 See above, p. 17. 18 Nietzsche (1957), p. 37. html [5/29/2009 12:13:05 AM] page_37 < previous page page_37 next page > Page 37 create anew something of the past. Of course, much traditional behaviour arises from indolence; one goes on doing the same thing because one cannot be bothered to do anything else. But this is not relevant, for history does not supply the aim of action here. 4 Aiming to Preserve the Past Some people have a strong desire to preserve past ways of life. The Amish of Pennsylvania are an example.

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