Response to Gilderhus

In his work “Historical Consciousness in the Modern Age”, Mark Gilderhus raises a question of how the perceptions and writings of history have changed throughout time as the writers of history themselves have changed. From devout Christians to philosophers, history and particularly the role of the divine has constantly shifted and changed. Prior to the Protestant Reformation, for example, the writers of history often credited famous historical events on the divine and paraded those leaders and makers of history who were great Christian leaders, such as Constantine the Great. As general perceptions of certain ideals and beliefs changed, so did the writing of history.

What I find most interesting about this article is its point that the perceptions of history are able to change. While it practically impossible to change a specific event in history, it is possible to change ┬áthe view of it, and Gilderhus does a wonderful job of exhibiting this fact. It almost brings to question how much of history we can truly believe. That is, when reading about a historical event or person, should we constantly question every detail written? Do the ideals and beliefs of the writer and time affect the accuracy of a work? Or does the greatness, or failure, of history transcend these biases and ideals to the point that, short of specific details and objectivity, the writings do not really need questioned at all? That is not to say that historians cannot be trusted, for that would completely destroy the purpose of history. It is simply a question of how much thought should be given to the writer’s purpose and the picture he was trying to display.

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