Herbert Butterfield never successfully confronted the issue of the ineluctability of interpretation in historical research, historiographical narration and explanation. Even though he occasionally stated that the historian interpreted, he generally set his face against interpretations of history. For much of his life he advocated technical history, a methodological principle that called for a non-interpretative representation of the human past independent of all general religious, moral, philosophical or ideological presuppositions. All this seemed to entail a historiography that was without doctrine and that could not, of itself, lead to any general conclusions. In this respect his stated methodology reflected the positions taken by John B. Bury and G. N. Clark. However, the interpreter of Butterfield also has to reckon with Butterfield’s lifelong Christian beliefs concerning man and the providential order. How are these to be reconciled or related to technical history?
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