Limitations of Historical Interpretation: Epistemology, Methodology, and Ideology

Based on the reading material, there are three limitations —–”epistemology, methodology and ideology”(Jenkins, 10). First for epistemology, I think this word refers to how individuals define their system of thinking or knowledge of a thing. In the reading the author points out that different historians would see the same historical event differently, and at the same time since they have not really been through the historical events, they don’t really present the actual story but with some personal interpretation while they write the history and each the record have differences(Jenkins,11). For example, the article mentions the disagreement on Hitler’s intentions between A.J.P Taylor and H.Trevor-Roper. They are both intelligent and have the same source but they still generate different interpretations of the same historical event. Then for the methodology, and then they write about the intention there will be 2 different stories of the event (Jenkins,13) Then the methodology in the article refers to that there should be a rule and procedure for interpretation to reduce the effects that epistemology caused. (Jenkins,14) However there are lots of potential rules for interpretation, thus the author believes that we should focus on the common between the methods. The author gives an example of Steel’s concepts(Jenkins, 16) which brings a general idea of the history interpretation. Last is the ideology, in the article the author points out that “particular social formations want their historians to deliver particular things ”(Jenkins, 17). There is a meaning added to the history which the past usually didn’t have. The author provides an example of Orwell’s novel, the ideas of “yesterday” can have new application that fits today’s heat topic(Jenkins,18). But back to the time that the idea was brought up, they do not really intend to discuss these topics. The author believes that the history written by the historians are not really the same thing as the past, and we should keep this idea in mind and try to find the common ground of the records. This definitely helps the history more objectively since this way try to reduce the personal effect to the past and at the same time we can look through the different writings of the same past to predict the past of the writing material.

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