Use and Abuse of History

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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 Lecture at Yale.