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A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Historical Fictions - Books & Culture

At the link above D. G. Hart reviews Peter Charles Hoffer's Past Imperfect . It is well worth the read and is a good diagnostic of the state of historical studies today.

This is an important and relevant article, in my view, but the author may be spitting against the wind in the present climate of history. I am reading David Fischer's 1970 book, Historians' Fallacies, right now. He was trying to come to a "logic of historical thought." It evidently didn't "take."

Michael Polanyi's irrationalism has had a great influence on all the "sciences" in the last half of the last century. How can you know anything if you can't know everything? If history is more than storytelling, then how do you choose which facts to tell? Polanyi denies the possibility of objective science in favor of the art of science, that the scientist must study under a master until he is instinctive about his choice of which facts to accept and which facts are "anomalies."

Do we practice theology that way? Some do, and they shelve the verses that don't "fit" or they torture them to fit. They get a bigger hammer. But IS theology an art by which we pick and choose which "fact" of the Bible or "nature" we choose and which are anomalies that can be safely discarded? I think not.

I think Hart is looking over the bottomless pit and asking himself the question "In the long, long continuum between telling everything and telling nothing, at which point does the story become a lie?" The Iraqi was will look very different from the perspective of the man whose house has just been destroyed by a terrorist bomb from that of a member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs. Everyong knows THAT, but what is TRUE?

On a more fundamental level, how can there be a logic of anything if words have no meaning? It is the crisis that Postmodernism has brought us to from Kant and the others. We are as foolish as Hart's modern historians if we take these presuppositions into theology.

"All that hate me love death" Prov. 8:36
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