Butterfield’s Critique of Interpretations

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


Any reading of The Whig Interpretation that follows the direction of Butterfield’s argument inevitably focuses on his critique of whig historiography in general, and of Acton in particular. As a result, the weight of any such discussion lies primarily with whig historiography, rather than with the question of Butterfield’s concept and critique of interpretations as such. This question was only implicit in The Whig Interpretation, but became more explicit in the 1948–51 discussions concerning technical history in which the earlier view of interpretation as an act subsequent to historical fact finding was presented in greater detail.


Historical Process Human Personality Historical Writing Biblical Literature Materialist Interpretation 
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  1. 24.
    Lord Acton, ‘The Study of History’, in Lectures on Modem History (1906), p. 20.Google Scholar
  2. 25.
    Lord Acton, ‘Letters to Contributors to the Cambridge Modern History’ [12 March 1898], in Lectures on Modem History (1906), p. 316.Google Scholar
  3. 27.
    Charles Oman, On the Writing of History (1939), p. 27. For Oman’s account, see ‘The Hundred Days, 1815’, in The Cambridge Modem History IX: Napoleon (1906), pp. 616–45.Google Scholar
  4. 28.
    John B. Bury, The Science of History (1903), pp. 18–19.Google Scholar
  5. 30.
    G. N. Clark, Historical Scholarship and Historical Thought (1944), p. 9.Google Scholar
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    George Gale, ‘Herbert Butterfield, Historian’, Encounter 53 (1979), 90; cf. CH, p. 9; HHR, p. 115.Google Scholar
  7. 2.
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    Sidney Hook, Revolution, Reform and Social Justice (1975), p. 4. Cf. Ghita Ionescu, ‘The Hydra of Marxism-Leninism’, TLS 76 (8 April 1977), 427; and Hook’s response, ‘Marxists and Non-Marxists’, TLS 76 (29 April 1977), 522.Google Scholar
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    Review of Kitson Clark, TLS 49 (14 July 1950), 429–31; cf. G. Kitson Clark, The English Inheritance (1950).Google Scholar
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    C. J. Cadoux, The Protestant Interpretation of History (1947), esp. pp. 6–10.Google Scholar
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    Martin Wight, review of HHR, The Observer (2 September 1951), 7.Google Scholar
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    See R. Newton Flew, The Idea of Perfection in Christian Theology (1934), esp. pp. 313–41.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Keith C. Sewell 2005

Authors and Affiliations

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

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