The editors introduce the core areas of current debate within historical theory, bringing the reader as up to date with continuing debates and current developments as is possible. The book is divided into three parts, covering: • Part I. Foundations: The Theoretical Grounds for Knowledge of the Past • Part II. Applications: Theory-Intensive Areas in History • Part III. Coda. Post-Postmodernism: Directions and Interrogations This important handbook brings together in one volume discussions of the role of modernity, empiricism, realism, post-modernity and deconstruction in the historian's craft. Chapters are written by leading writers from around the world and cover a wide spread of historical sub-disciplines, such as social history, intellectual history, narrative, gender, memory, psycho-analysis and cultural studies, taking in, along the way, the work of thinkers such as Paul Ricouer, Michel Foucault and Hayden White. The Sage Handbook of Historical Theory is an essential resource for practicing historians, and students of history, and will appeal to scholars in related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities who seek a closer understanding of the theoretical foundations of history.
Chapter 2: The Implications of Empiricism for History
The Implications of Empiricism for History
In the world of Anglo-American historians, empiricism has become a current concept that defines one side in the ongoing controversy between those historians who defend their discipline as based on common sense assumptions about facts and historical truth and those that espouse postmodern theories that emphasise the literary qualities of history and criticise the scientific self-understanding of professional historians. In many other countries (e.g. France, Germany or Italy) postmodernism has no larger an audience among historians than in Great Britain or the United States, but its theory is refuted on the basis of other epistemological arguments that often combine hermeneutic views of history with (moderate) constructivist arguments about scientific knowledge in general. ...