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These methodologies can come in the form of sweeping all-inclusive theories (such as Marxism or liberalism), historically useful conceptualizations (borderlands, the "frontier," national identity or nationalism)
or particular areas of study (diplomatic history, social history, gender history, political history).
The methodology used by the historian can influence the questions asked, the types of evidence consulted (oral histories, government documents, cultural artifacts, public speech), the accepted evidentiary standard, and the nature of causation.
In history, it helps to keep in mind that there are many different ways of determining how history happens. (cf. major approaches/schools in psychology-structuralism, functionalism, psychoanalysis, humanism.)
Historians disagree very much over why almost any event happened.
The following list of selected historians can give you some ideas of how the great historians "did" history
MAJOR APPROACHES Major Approaches Great Men Marxist Toynbee Radical History Boorstin Geographical determinism
a theory held by some that aims to explain history by the impact of "Great men", or heroes:
highly influential individuals, either from personal charisma, genius intellects, or great political impact.
E.g. study the Second World War by focusing on the big personalities of the conflict — Sir Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Hirohito, etc.
to view all of the historical events as being tied directly to their own individual decisions and orders.
It is often linked to 19th century philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle, who commented that "The history of the world is but the biography of great men."
The Great Man approach to history was most popular with professional historians in the 19th century
lengthy and detailed biographies about the great men of history, but very few general or social histories
Name any one great-man in history Why do you considered him so?
Great man may not necessarily be great in a positive sense.
He/she may also be terrible & brutal, but his decisions and actions are significant in shaping the development in the world.
Name a person whose life has been most filmed about? His character appeared in most movies produced so far?
Can you identify him?
(Napoleon) r. 1799-1814
Napoleonic Europe ca. 1810
Any other great man? What about him?
Today the great man theory is out of favor as a singular explanation for why things happen.
Historians look at other factors such as economic, societal, environmental, and technological which are just as or more significant to historical change.
Many historians believe that a history which only follows around single persons, especially when their significance is determined primarily by political status, is a shallow view of the past
Danger: tendency to be hagiography: a study of holy persons, free from errors/Uncritical biography
A Man of Destiny (born to be a hero) or great at seizing the moments/opportunities
A theory of “a great man”
Did a great man changed history
Or rather a great man was good at manipulating “history” (historical contexts and forces in his favor?)
Was a great man alone enough to make things happen?
A Great Man: Infallible or just a super-talented human being?
Hegel’s dialectic theory (everything evolves & changes in history due to the clash of opposing forces)
Hegel's Dialectic Theory of History says that for every old idea, there is a new one which conflicts with it.
Out of the struggle a new idea is created (Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis).
He felt that this was how God led us to perfection
and revealed new truth. History is just the product of
Example of the Clash of Opposing Ideas
Thesis(Christianity) Dialectic process Antithesis (reason)
Example of the Clash of Opposing Ideas
Thesis (Colonialism) Dialectic process Antithesis (colonized people)
Hegel’s Dialectic Theory
Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis Thesis Old Ideas Antithesis New Ideas
The Great German Philosopher: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Marx--Material Dialectic. Marx used Hegel's ideas and applied them to classes of people throughout history.
Saw history as a product of class struggle
Between class controlling economy & politics & the one oppressed
An example is how the Businessman and his money destroyed the power of the old Aristocracy based on land and hereditary ownership
Workers Aristocrat Bourgeoisie
Marxist Dialectical Materialism
Bourgeois Democracy CONFLICT Proletariat
Landed Aristocracy CONFLICT -> Bourgeoisie
Arnold Toynbee (British Historian)
Challenge and response.
Toynbee's theory is that all civilizations are faced with a crisis which is either one of ideas, or one of technology.
How they respond determines whether they will survive/collapse
An example is the Fall of Rome. Many blame Christianity for destroying the Pagan strength of Rome and causing her downfall.
Toynbee points out that the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire) used Christianity to revitalize and reform the Roman Empire for another thousand
Radicals--History is the story of who won. This thesis says that history is little more than mythmaking.
"History is the history of winners." Those who win, write the history books.
Those who have lost are excluded or demonized. History is determined by who has the political power to write the books.
Eg. Treaty of Versailles in 1919 assigned blamed for WW1 on Germany
Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004)
Daniel J. Boorstin ( 1914 – 2004), an American historian
The unexpected--Daniel J. Boorstin's books suggest a thesis that ideas and practices simply come together in various places and time and can hardly be predicted
What matters, is that the great Creators and Discoverers have been open to the challenge and took previously unrelated ideas and put them together in a way that was entirely new. They thus change the world.
An example is how an anonymous optician in Belgium created the first telescope to be used in combat
It found its way to Italy where Galileo began to look at stars with it.
His findings undermined the Ptolemaic system (earth-centered theory of the universe).
Boorstin is hostile to the Hegelian-Marxist school as it can only tell what the future is like based on the past.
The Hegelians could never have predicted the impact of the telescope.
Boorstin basically argues that no one can predict; you can only remain open to change. Change cannot be managed.
Oswald Spenglar ( 1880 – 8 May 1936)
His famous work, The Decline of the West
His view- cyclical –civ is like a living organism or seasons—birth, growth and decay