History is a kind of research or inquiry, i.e. an investigation to find out facts. Every historian would agree to this statement.
As such, history and science belong to the same kind of knowledge. Both are a kind of research or inquiry in their own way.
Science consist of forms of thoughts by which it asks questions and tries to answer them. There are some important facts about science which we much know and understand. It is a common belief that science collects known facts and arranges them in suitable groups. But this is only one of its many aspects. Basically, science seizes upon unknown things and tries to discover them. If playing patience with known facts does not give answers to our question, it is not scientifically valuable.
It can be scientifically valuable only when it serves as a means towards the inquiry and discovery of unknown things and which we wish to inquire and discover. This is the essential end and purpose of science. In this way, science begins from the knowledge of our ignorance. It starts from an understanding of our own lack of knowledge. Only when we know fully well that we do not know a particular thing, we fasten upon it and try to know it. This particular unknown thing may be the origin of parliament, the causes of cancer, and the chemical composition of the sun, the way to make a pump work without the help of human or animal energy. Thus unknown thing turn into known facts and science grows.
Science, is finding things out. In much the same way, history also is finding thing out. History, therefore is a science.
What is the Object of History?
All sciences differ from one another. One science finds out thing of one kind another science finds out things of another kinds. Likewise, history finds out register or things that have been done. In other words history finds out past actions of human beings who lived in the past. This statement gives rise to a large variety of questions. Conflicting views are expressed about many of them. As such they may be answered in a large variety of ways. Never less, history all along remains the science of register. It is always an effort to find out answers to questions about past activities of human beings who lived in the past. No one can refute this statement. No one can prove it wrong.
How Does History Proceed?
In other words it means how is the procedure or method which help history grow from age to age.
Obviously, the growth of history depends entirely upon the interpretation of evidence. To be more explicit, interpretation of evidence is the explanation of the full meaning and significance of the evidence in question. In the case of history number of things which we meet here and there makes evidence, now and then, taken up together. These we may call documents. These documents, or rather historical documents to be more exact are of such nature that if history studies them, it finds answers to its questions about past human actions.
A large number of questions can be asked about the characteristics of evidence and the ways to interpret it. Needless to say, these questions are much too early and out of the place to ask at this junction. However, they may be answered in many different ways. But the procedure or method of history remains basically composed of interpretation of evidence, all the same. By no stretch of imagination can there be any two opinions about this statement among historians.
Lastly, What is History For?
This is perhaps the toughest question of all the four. It is difficult to answer them. One will have to cover a wider field to find an answer for the question. Various aspects of history will have to be taken into account. At the same time, various other aspects of a rather general nature will have to be taken into account as well. When we say that something is ‘for’ something, we mean that there is a marked difference between the two which distinguished one from the other as separate.
The truth of this statement can be explained by simple logic. If we distinctly separate things. We clearly see that A is the thing which is good for B, while B is the thing for which A is good. Obviously the two are not the same. Instead, they are rather different. Here I give the answer to the question and hoping that the answer will be accepted by all historians. However, I believe that it will lead to a host of hard questions. The answer is “History is for human self-knowledge, In other words this means that history helps man to know and understand himself, most of us think that the more we know ourselves, the better it is. Self-knowledge always stands us in good stead.
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