Front matter and Introduction - Journal of the Sydney Society for Scottish History, Volume 9 (2001)
AbstractHistorians, amateur and professional, famous and infamous, fall into a number of categories. One group, that Edward Gibbon identifies as philosophical historians, tends to derive from historical events an understanding of moral and political philosophical questions. Historical events are seen as illustrations of philosophic truths. Another seem to be attempting merely to record facts without drawing any philosophical inferences or political truths from them. Then there are those who are trying to advance some particular argument, support some political or moral position, or advance some current cause by reference to the past. One historian will argue for the folly, pointlessness and viciousness of war. Another will argue for the nobility, self-sacrifice and grandeur of war. One will argue for the civilising and beneficial effects of the Roman or British Empire. Another will argue for the oppressions and injustices of the Roman or British Empire. One will argue for the optimism of steady human progress. Another would delight in showing how human behaviour has not improved much over thousands of years.