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Historical facts: their nature, establishment and selection

Gruner, Rolf (1967) Historical facts: their nature, establishment and selection. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This work is divided into three main parts or chapters. Chapter I deals with the concepts of the basic entities with which historians are concerned. ‘Fact’ (something that is the case) is distinguished from ‘event’ (something that occurs or happens) and also from ‘interpretation’ or ‘theory’. ‘Event’ is delimited from ‘Situation’ (something which is changed by an event) as well as from ‘thing’ (something which is a situation) but it is shown that the differences between the three – as well as the deference between event and ‘superevents’ – is relative to the point of view adopted by the historian. Chapter II deals that the question of how the knowledge of simple historical fact (as opposed to connexions between facts) is acquired and validated. The general presuppositions are examined which are necessary for the inference of facts from evidence, and the concept of evidence itself is subjected to an analysis whereby the role of the interpretation of data is emphasised and distinction are drawn between different kinds of evidence (direct and circumstantial, records and remains) and their reliability. Chapter III deals with the adequacy of whole historical reconstruction (as opposed to the adequacy of dingle historical statements), i.e. with the criteria for deciding whether a historians account is adequate, or more adequate than a rivals account. It is pointed out that conditions of truth alone cannot provide such criteria but that selection and emphasis play n important part, the selection and emphasis of what is ‘relevant’ or ‘important’. Thee two concepts are analysed in detail and several suggested solutions of the problems to when something is relevant or important are examined and rejected. Finally, the concept of representivness is introduced, explicated and put forward as a criterion of adequacy.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1967
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 10:26

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