Mini Paper #1

708 words - 3 pages

The study of history has always been systematic with historians asking questions, collecting background information, evaluating sources, linking evidence, and presenting a conclusion while maintaining objectivity. The methods of explaining history has largely been a similar process. While the nineteenth century movement focused on altering the study of history through the importance of objectivity and professionalism, it did little to change it completely. New methods may have emerged to become more objective and added new perspectives, but the study of history has always consisted of obtaining information and presenting the findings. The study of history maintained the same methods of processing information and sense of objectivity since the time of the ancient world to the Renaissance and Progressive Era.
The ancient world used similar methods in history that have remained unchanged, which modern historians still use today. Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886), from the late nineteenth century, disputed the methods of early historical studies and insisted on changing the study of history by means of empirical methods involving the use of primary sources to write about the past. The empirical methods, which are based on observation and experiments, are similar to the methods of the Greek scholar Thucydides (460-400 BCE), who wrote about the Peloponnesian War. Thucydides wrote about the war between Sparta and Athens based on his observations by presenting different accounts on the war and by linking the evidences together. He experimented with the contradicting sources, which led him to a conclusion. In addition, the use of contradicting sources helped maintain a sense of objectivity to find the “truth.” While objectivity encouraged Ranke to challenge historical authenticity, the methods of becoming objective and drawing a conclusion through experiments have been the same since the time of the ancient. For example in ancient Rome, the necessity to understand and find background information is still important to historians today. The Roman historian Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE) used background in the study of information by taking “into consideration geography, context, and chronologies, all issues that are rooted in modern historical thought.”
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