oa Historia - The concept of history
|Article Title||The concept of history|
|© Publisher:||Historical Association of South Africa (HASA)|
|Affiliations||1 University of Durban-Westville; University of Fort Hare|
|Publication Date||May 1990|
|Pages||14 - 22|
|Keyword(s)||Historiography, History and Philosophy|
This paper discusses various concepts of History, as they have been developed from man's contingent (changing, variable) experience of reality and the needs, problems and aspirations emerging from this basic human experience. In terms of a few prominent historical models, it is shown how the meaning of history changes together with the changing Zeitgeist. It is demonstrated that historical theories breathe a definite Zeitgeist and reflect the concrete needs, problems, and aspirations of contemporaries. In this way, the practical and existential character of historical theories emerges, as does man's striving for self-understanding. The scientific character of historical theories, as of all other theories, consists in their being methodological constitutions of a specific type of human experience, in this case historical experience. Method makes these theories truth-perspectives, which derive their meaning from the specific perception of the historical conditions prevailing at the time. In terms of man's contingent experience of reality, from which, ultimately, all theories, of whatever type, are conceived, the argument that history has no meaning is refuted. Such a perception rests on the absolutization of one particular method, namely, that of the natural sciences. Historical theories, as all other theories, are controversial and problematic, entering into a critical relationship with one another, in terms of which the argument on the meaning of History continues.
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