To trace history's lineage, to successfully explain, in clear terms, the convolutions, projects, impediments, and contexts of thinkers and schools of thought to whom we owe so much--among them Ranke
, Nietsche, Marx, Derrida, Hayden White, E.P.
Although the reader might not appreciate Ranke
's stinginess with coloration and might even begin to crave a juicy historical novel a la Walter Scott, for Ranke
this sparseness constituted an avenue of fame.
and his followers through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries lived for the demands of absolute realism that were best expressed in Ranke
's infamous remark that even though the historian's mission was to judge the past and instruct the present in benefit of the future, he did "not aspire to such a high office ...
MB, Orskov H, Bristow AF, Seth J, Baumann G.
He contrasted his understanding of evolutionary development to Hegel's by allowing for the co-existence of equal orientations "toward the absolute goal of the human spirit," which subsequently come together "to form a philosophy of history." (35) That all epochs, or historical phenomena, might be equidistant from God, in Ranke
's words, is incompatible with the sequentially necessary and hierarchal phases of Hegel's brand of development.
Rejecting both Hegel and Ranke
, Burckhardt scorned the attempt to seek meaning and purpose in history.
Real historians do it in the archive: with primary sources: like Ranke
. A related reason for historiography's slightly dubious reputation is that it promotes self-consciousness, a characteristic historians tend to view with suspicion, as encouraging at best an unhealthy subjectivity and at worst a debilitating preoccupation with matters ontological ("What is Reality?) and epistemological ("What is Truth?") that are the philosophers' business, not ours.
The book begins in the Berlin of the brilliant nineteenth century historian Leopold von Ranke
, who is credited with the invention of documented history in its modern form.
This personal ambition applies to one of the most prominent historians, Gustav Weil, whose History of the Caliphate was largely meant by him to rival Leopold von Ranke
's History of the Popes.(13)
But the notebooks and drafts of Leopold von Ranke
, the 19th-century Berlin professor who is usually considered the founder of modern, documented historiography, have attracted little attention - even though they too raise fascinating questions about the distance that separates Ranke
's "private science" from his publications.