11 June 2005 - Saturday

Glow-worm on a grassblade, II


Peter Burke, "Overture: the New History, its Past and its Future," New Perspectives on Historical Writing, ed. Peter Burke (University Park: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1992), 6:

Our minds do not reflect reality directly. We perceive the world only through a network of conventions, schemata and stereotypes, a network which varies from one culture to another. In this situation, our understanding of conflicts is surely enhanced by a presentation of opposite viewpoints, rather than by an attempt, like Acton's, to articulate a consensus. We have moved from the ideal of the Voice of History to that of heteroglossia, defined as "varied and opposing voices."

Georges Florovsky, "The Predicament of the Christian Historian," in God, History, and Historians: An Anthology of Modern Christian Views of History, ed. C. T. McIntire (New York: Oxford UP, 1977), 413-414:

Indeed, historical cognition is a kind of conversation, a dialogue with those in the past whose life, thoughts, feelings, and decisions the historian endeavors to rediscover, through the documents by which they are witnessed to or signified. Accordingly, one can infer from certain facts, words or things, as from a sign to the meaning, only if and when these objective things can be lawfully treated as signs, that is, as bearers of meaning, only when and if we can reasonably assume that these things have a dimension of depth, a dimension of meaning. We do not assign meaning to them: we should detect meaning. Now, there is meaning in certain things, in our documents and sources, only in so far as behind them we are entitled to assume the existence of other intelligent beings.
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