Whig Interpretation of History

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1965 - History - 132 pages
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.
 

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
THE UNDERLYING ASSUMPTION
9
THE HISTORICAL PROCESS
34
HISTORY AND JUDGMENTS OF VALUE
64
THE ART OF THE HISTORIAN
90
MORAL JUDGMENTS IN HISTORY
107
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About the author (1965)

Sir Herbert Butterfield was Regius Professor of History and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.[2] As a British historian and philosopher of history, he is remembered chiefly for two books, a short volume early in his career entitled The Whig Interpretation of History (1931) and his Origins of Modern Science (1949). Over the course of his career, Butterfield turned increasingly to historiography and man's developing view of the past. Butterfield was a devout Christian and reflected at length on Christian influences in historical perspectives.

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