For many or most history is the study of what man did in the past, in different times and civilizations. Yet man is both the protagonist and the writer of history. It is he who develops a historical understanding of the past. And while studying the past man really studies himself.
Which brings to the fore and in question the inherent subjectivity of history. Take the battle of Waterloo, for example. For some, the genius of Wellington ensured the victory of the ‘coalition.’ For others Napoleon’s hemorrhoids significantly influenced the outcome. An objective observer, while recognizing the unquestionable conclusion of the battle, would consider both Wellington’s skills and Napoleon’s physical conditions as contributing factors. Continue reading