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Historia

On-line version ISSN 2309-8392

Abstract

RUSEN, Jörn. Engagement - metahistorical considerations on a disputed attitude in historical studies. Historia [online]. 2014, vol.59, n.2, pp. 1-9. ISSN 2309-8392.

It is the main intent of this article to correct a misunderstanding of what engagement in historical studies, historiography and historical culture means and what it is about. So, first of all I will shortly describe the widespread notion of engagement as the direct opposite of objectivity in historical studies. In a second step I will show that this juxtaposition contradicts basic principles of historical thinking. For this I will explicate these principles in a twofold way: first, as basic factors of human historical thinking in general, and, second as basic factors of the professional academic treatment of history. Since historical thinking is more than only a cognitive procedure but includes non-cognitive elements, I will identify these elements and clarify their role as determining factors in historical culture. Doing so, engagement becomes visible as a complex interrelationship of different dimensions of historical culture and their basic concepts. As a further step I will discuss the contribution of historical studies to the practical functions of historical culture in human life. To round off the discussion, I will give a short outlook focusing on a form of engagement which has mainly been overlooked and is worth taking into account.

Keywords : metahistory; engagement; objectivity; historical culture.

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