Technical History

  • Keith C. Sewell
Part of the Studies in Modern History book series (SMH)

Abstract

Butterfield did not consider his use of ‘providence’ as a general ordering principle to require a modification of his earlier supposedly non-interpretative methodological particularism. On the contrary, his numerous references to providence seem to have prompted him to articulate with increased forthrightness the notion of a non-interpretative form of statement. As if to relativise the rest of the Christianity and History lectures, ‘technical history’ was discussed in the first lecture, and more sharply defined in chapter 1 of Christianity and History; entitled ‘Historical Scholarship and its Relation to Life’, as well as in a range of contemporaneous essays.1 However, Butterfield did not offer a sample of historiographical narrative as an instance of technical history, only a single statement concerning an event of no clear historical significance, namely, ‘the precise date’ of his grandfather’s birth:

[I]f I demonstrate that my grandfather was born … on January 1st, 1850, then that thesis must be equally valid whether I present it to Christian or atheist, whig or tory, Swede or Dane. In respect of points which are established by the evidence, or accepted by the judgment of common sense, history has a certain validity of its own, a certain minimum significance that is independent of philosophy, race or creed.2

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Copyright information

© Keith C. Sewell 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith C. Sewell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryDordt CollegeUSA

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