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A Précis on The Historian’s Craft
Bloch, Marc. The Historian’s Craft. New York: Vintage Books. 1953
Marc Bloch, in his “memorandum of a craftsman,” accomplished two goals. The first goal he accomplished was to defend and explain why one should study history, and the second goal was to explain how one should study history. In order to explain why one should study history he stated that people in time is the object of history. Bloch argued that an understanding of the past is essential for an understanding of the present and that an understanding of the present is essential for an understanding of the past. He declared that treating history like a science is important, but that history is not a science. One can not take an empiricist view of history but must take a humanistic view.
In order to explain the how one should study history Bloch focused on historical Criticism, Analysis, and Causation. He argued that historians must be critical of their sources because the source is not always what it appears to be. The source should be scrutinized to make sure that it is accurate. If the source is not accurate then the historian should figure out why. When analyzing history, Bloch argued that the historian should not be a judge upon the events, but instead should be a scholar and simply study the events. It is not the historian’s job to say what is right or wrong in a moral since. Lastly Bloch argued that the historian should explain why events took place. He said that “in history, as elsewhere, the causes can not be assumed. They are to be looked for…” It is the historian’s job to do the looking.
© All words and music written and owned by Shawn Nelsen.