Use and Abuse of History


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Pieter Geyl

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Historical knowledge, this noted Dutch historian declares, should be a result of free investigation and criticism.  Since it deals with facts, not imagination, it cannot be cast into a predetermined mold to fit a unified pattern of arbitrary principles.  “The most we can hope for,” he states, “is a partial rendering, an approximation, of the real truth about the past.”  In this succinct analysis of the philosophy and method of history, Professor Geyl examines the prevailing concepts of history and the new “awareness of distance” from the past that was lacking in earlier historians.  History, he points out, provides an elucidation of the present and its problems by showing them in perspective.  This important study of the historical point of view is based on the author’s Terry Lectures at Yale. 

Pieter Geyl is professor of modern history at the University of Utrecht and author of Napoleon: For and Against and Debates with Historians.
ISBN: 9780300136517
Publication Date: September 10, 1955
106 pages, 5 1/4 x 8
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