Perse Studio

Independent-learning super-curriculum projects: reading, research and ideas shared by Perse students

Should historians embrace or resist ‘presentism’?

Ethan A, Y12

The debate over historical presentism can be interpreted as mirroring the debate between the scientific school, championed by Leopold von Ranke, and the Postmodernists, over the ability of historians to remove their influence from their works. Both sides go too far. History can never be totally scientifically objective. The selection and ordering of facts inherent in historical research necessitates the making of value judgements by the historian. Neither is it completely relativist, as there has to be basic grounding in fact so as to avoid the manufacture of pure fictions.

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