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Whig Interpretation of History (65 Edition)by Herbert Butterfield
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
The Whig historian studies the past with reference to the present. He looks for agency in history. And, in his search for origins and causes, he can easily select those facts that give support to his thesis and thus eliminate other facts equally important to the total picture. The Whig historian tends to judge, to make history answer questions, and to overdramatize by simplification and organization around attractive themes. The value of history, however, as Professor Butterfield shows, lies in the richness of its recovery of the concrete life of the past. The true historian studies the past for its own sake. He sees 'in each generation a clash of wills out of which there emerges something that probably now man ever willed, ' and his creative work is to make the past intelligible to the present by insight and sympathy with the conditions of the past.
A classic essay on the distortions of history that occur when historians impose a rigid point of view on the study of the past.
It is not as easy to understand the past as many who have written it would have us believe. The historians who look at it from the Protestant, progressive, "19th Century gentleman" viewpoint are defined by Professor Butterfield as "the Whig historians." The Whig historian studies the past with reference to the present. He looks for agency in history. And, in his search for origins and causes, he can easily select those facts that give support to his thesis and thus eliminate other facts equally important to the total picture.
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