History, the convoluted science.
It is matter of fact that science has exemplified the route to follow when it comes to the Humanities. It was not long ago that, wide-eyed, the giants on whose shoulders we stand stared, helplessly, as science became the de facto ruler of the world. It has been seventy years since the time of the first comprehensive and scientific works of Classics. Before that, men wrote what they thought was factual narrative. Men and women at the end of the 19th century stood at the edge of the precipice that was Ancient History and leaped. They leaped to what they thought was a certain doom, yet they found themselves standing upon a ledge not protruding more than a few feet from the wall. Now, however, it is all irrelevant. The courage and moral right of those men and women in the late 19th century has been superseded by perplexed historians from the 1940s and 50s that saw science as the sharp cuspid of thought. It was then that study of human culture, by nature a subjective field, became the study of human culture, by make up an objective one. During the last seventy years, the fluid and nurturing wisdom and faith that led those first individuals to leap upon the chasm of time has ossified into a defined and construed science. The very limits of science, applied to the study of culture, became the maxims of a field once determined to overcome the prejudices of man and the errors of the biased.
Now, we suffer. We suffer the ignominious hand of men and women who stifle thought and ridicule those who still leap. ‘The age of those who thought and leaped is over. No longer are we subject to the destructive force of gravity. We can know live, secure, in the hart of the sciences.’ Or so they say. Perhaps it is true. Perhaps the time of the man and woman of faith is gone. It may be that idealism has had its say and it can no longer abide to be displayed in front of scientific thinkers that promote the idolization of fact and truth. I may even say that all subjectivism is wrong. I may push it off a cliff myself, seeking to be rid of its happy endings, well-rounded explanations, and moral necessity. Man of science, we are, the historians. We have been defined, which made the field more easily explained, far better to learn, and to teach. All things fit within the easy realm of explanation and rational thought. Time had become defined by lines and dots which pinpoint, with scientific accuracy, the periods we study and the men we follow. Science made it all so simple. ‘Yes’ and ‘no’ became facts, not subject to the analysis of the group but object to the truth that rules all things; that rules history. Orthodoxy brought about safety.
It also brought about exclusion.
The burden of proof, they call it. A burden because its gravitas rests upon the shoulders of those needing to make their case. Law is scientific, science is scientific; truth is truth and it cannot be denied. History is people. History is culture. History is the subjectivity of people brought together to determine the factuality of a thing having taken place in time. We have ossified. The fluidity of our thoughts has been corrupted and made hard and cold. We blame science, those of us who still believe in leaping and in faith. Although, we are wrong. Science is not cold and objective; Law is neither ossified nor dry; they are both very much subjected to the rigor of the universe and the thoughts of culture. They are subjective sciences, their objectivity resides only in the rules they create; in their application. Rules that can change due to the subjective and fluid thought of men and women who leap with faith in the overall culture of humanity.
We have excluded all that makes us human from the Humanities.
We ossified. Historians. We lost our drive to leap. We caught up to the rest of the sciences, took on the name, and then stayed the same for seventy years. While the sciences have updated, as all knowledge certainly must, we have remained the same. Updated only in facts, altering them, changing them. All things remains the same with the historian. The age of the leapers is over, they say. That may be. But we cannot allow that to keep us tied down with chains and stones too heavy to prevent our flight into the higher realms of understanding. ‘We stand in the shoulders of giants’ does not mean they had all the answers. It means we have the responsibility to innovate, to create, to think for ourselves and rise above them. We don’t rise that we may become better, we rise that we may make the overall understanding of humanity better. We lift history, in essence, to new heights, on the shoulders of giants; we do not keep things the same in awe of their height.
So we must grow, as we climb, and make understanding taller than the giants who leaped in faith and who stand now, in the past, cheering our own subjective thinking.