History is simply the collection of facts.

History is simply the collection of facts about the past.

This claim states that that history, which I define as the study of the past, is simply a collection of facts—information that is purely objective thus it does not contain any personal feelings or bias. This claim paints an unfair picture of the study of history since accepting it means that history is limited in expressing ideas about the past since personal opinions/emotions are vital in shaping the context of the recount of the past. However, a significant part of recent history has completely involved humans, and since humans often act subjectively, a lot of the past does not just involve facts, but emotions as well.

Keith Jenkins, a noted postmodern philosopher of history, displayed a thoroughly sceptical critique of history, which revealed that history was simply more than the collection of facts about the past. In his book Rethinking History, Jenkins argued that the conventional view of academic history was fundamentally flawed. he said that even the most perfunctory approach to the conventional historical method, properly analyzed, will show that a historian, no matter how well-trained, can attain to any kind of methodological objectivity, free from prejudice or bias. Conventional history is, therefore, a contested discourse in which people, classes, and groups construct autobiographical interpretations of an imagined past to suit themselves. Jenkins’ perspective shows that history cannot simply the collection of facts since there will always be emotion embedded within history in the form of inherent bias regarding the historian, whether intentional or not.

Traditionally, emotions are typically regarded in the scope of sciences such as psychology or neuroscience. These disciplines tend to view feelings as merely physiologically governed and therefore emphasize that emotions are static: they are the same today as they were in the past and will be in the future, irrespective of the spatial or temporal context in which they function. However, emotion is more than just feelings within the brain, it is intimately bound up with its cultural context and is subject to change over time. Therefore history is not just the collection of facts, but the understanding of emotions that were the causes and consequences of past events. An example that analyzes the significance of emotions in the past and present is the book titled Fear by British historian Joanna Bourke. In the book, Bourke studies two centuries of worry and unrest in the Anglo-American world. From the Victorians’ fear of being buried alive to post 9/11 trepidations over terrorism and terrorist attacks, Bourke effectively shows how emotion changes over time with the historical context of various social stresses.

 

 

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