Extension History practise essay Compare and contrast Inga Clendinnen’s interpretation of the purpose of history with the views of at least two other historians you have studied. Make a judgement about the value of these viewpoints Clendinnen’s viewpoint on the purpose of history is that history without the reconstruction of mistaken convictions is not true history. Her viewpoints agree with Von Ranke and Bede and disagree with Post Modernism and more closely E. H Carr.
Clendinnen believes that “humans learn from experience” which also agree’s with the history of Bede. Bede’s histories were didactic therefore also selective with the information that was published. Clendinnen also believes that “it’s the historians job to unscramble what happened from what the myth-makers were up to, not play at myth making too” this is also consistent with Bede’s histories as his work is very detailed with no “entertaining add ons” Von Ranke’ histories are written ‘how essentially, things happen’ which also agrees with Clendinnen’s viewpoint.
Clendinnen states that ‘only by constructing the fog of mistaken convictions, through which people in other times battled in the direction they hoped was forward. Can we hope to dispel the mists which obscure our own vision’ this ties Von Ranke’s idea of history in to Clendinnen’s viewpoint of history by which both agree that the facts of history no matter how unattractive they may be must be noted and recognised otherwise only half of the history is being recorded and the reader of the history will never fully understand how the final outcome turned out the way it did.
E. H Carr stated that ” it is he who decides which facts to give the floor, and in what context” which implies that each historian is selective with the information chosen to put in their history in order for the metanarrative of the particular historian to be pushed across their works.
Clendinnen disagrees with this viewpoint as she mocks the post modernist mindset “which to my mind makes the past an adventure playground for the muscle-bound egos of the present” Clendinnen also believes that to create history you must be able to “arrive at useable truths” which also contradicts Carr’s beliefs that history is merely an “interpretation” of what happened. An example of a direct challenge to Cleninnen’s viewpoint of history is the Irving vs Lipstadt case.
Where Irving Sued Lipstadt for making claims about being “the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial” Irving lost the case due to his falsified and misrepresented history because of his ideological beliefs, he didn’t treat sources evenly as he leaned towards German sources and discredited the Jewish stories. This is a direct challenge to Clendinnens viewpoint, as she believes that every source must be noted for it to be true history and not to fit ones ideals.
Irving used sources that favoured his viewpoint thus only giving him history from one perspective. It is important to consider all aspects of historical times in order to fully understand the actions taken by people of other times. It is impossible to fully understand a history that only contains one perspective therefore the need to reconstruct the entire past is important because as we reconstruct that we can clear the confusion and misunderstanding of our own minds and come as close to the truth as possible.