What is history?

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WHAT IS HISTORY? Name Class Date Contrary to a popular twentieth-century notion, history is not just a mere presentation of facts in the hope that the facts will ‘speak for themselves.’ It goes further than that. Becker simplifies the definition of history to a mere “memory of things said and done” which, although true, it gives a vague idea of the subject and does a disservice to history as a profession. Going by this empirical presentation, everyone can be a historian if they can recall some activities and act on memories, but we do all know for a fact that not every person is a historian. At the center of history as a profession, and inextricable from the subject is not just the ability to research facts about events and the subsequent chronological presentation, but also the going further to make sense of events by giving an interpretation. Facts are malleable. The nature of history is not constant, and neither is it cast in stone. It is because of this very reason that different historians will make different inferences and deductions from one particular event. Also, it is for this very reason why history varies depending on the time, place, and even generations. Mostly, this is so because everyone will capitalize on the occurrences that appeal to them and crop out ideas of least importance. Thus, since history “cannot be reduced to a verifiable set of statistics or formulated in terms of universally valid mathematical formulas” and because “it is an imaginative creation” on the historian’s mind, a question of how truthful it can easily arise. Is history, therefore, an absolute or a relative subject? These are questions that help us

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