What is History The Science of the Past in Perspective
Some puzzles in human life are universal and cut across generations. That is why some of the very issues that boggled the minds of many people several centuries ago continue to baffle many people today. Such problems often attract the attention of scholars and generate debates among them. The meaning of the term ‘history’ and the nature of history in general are certainly some of the sensitive problems that have remained highly debatable among historians and allied scholars. In fact, the debate on “what is history ” has continued without resolution for several centuries. The term ‘history’ has been defined or explained differently by different people at different times and under different circumstances. Though these definitions or explanations have been accepted and used, the lack of unanimity on the part of historians on a common definition places students and teachers of history in a difficult situation concerning what exactly history is. We believe that in the contemporary setting, any definition or explanation given to history must be situated in a framework that is comprehensive enough to make the nature and philosophy of the discipline clear. Using both primary and secondary documents, and employing the multi disciplinary approach, this paper examines some of the important definitions or explanations that have been given to history with the view to constructing a definition or an explanation that is appropriate for history today. In its survey, the study finds that several definitions have been formulated for history over the centuries. It observes, however, that some of the definitions or explanations are inappropriate and unacceptable today in view of their inability to reveal the true nature of history and clarify the philosophy behind the study of the past. In its evaluation and conclusion, the paper appreciates that history has both art and science dimensions, and is also a practice with an avowed philosophy. Taking all these into consideration, the paper then defines or explains history in a context that is comprehensive enough to depict history as a discipline that is concerned not only with the past, but also, and more especially, with the present and the future for the development of society and the various sciences or disciplines. As a result, the study draws attention to the need to promote the serious study of history in schools.
concept, definition, description, discipline, explanation, history, interpretation, science, study, term, the future, the past, the present