2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Objectivity of Historical Study:
On the Reality of the History of Ideas

Jin Guantao, Liu Qingfeng

Institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

In this essay we contend that the core of historical memory is constituted by events that were significant in the history of ideas, rather than by social facts irrelevant to widely-accepted concepts. The search for objectivity and value-free principles of historical memory does exclude the beliefs behind historical events. Instead, it is aimed at discovering the actual value system that came into play when a historical event took place. A broader picture can be obtained by examining the interaction between concepts and events. By doing so, we can move beyond the narrow positions and viewpoints of individual participants. This essay discusses the value of the database approach in discovering the actual concepts behind certain significant historical events. We believe that this approach can help us overcome the limits of the Annales School and postmodern history in reconstructing historical memory.


Keywords: database approach, objectivity, interaction between concepts and events, events in the history of ideas, historical methodology