History

History is the study of the development, transmission, and transformation of past cultural practices and events.  Although this broad discipline has often been classified under either the humanities or the social sciences, it can be seen to be a bridge between them, incorporating methodologies from both fields of study. As a field of study, history encompasses many subfields and ancillary fields, including chronology, historiography, genealogy, paleography, and cliometrics.

 

There are differing views for the definition of when history begins and some believe it began in the 34th century BC, with cuneiform writing.  A new term, prehistory, was coined, to encompass the results of these new fields where they yielded information about times before the existence of written records.  Historical knowledge can be separated into three categories: what is written, what is said, and what is physically preserved, and historians often consult all three.  Prior to modernity it was the clergymen or the patricians who often wrote the history books, and often in a biased subjective manor, rather than studied scholars.

 

In 1912 James Harvey published his The New History.  It was a call to arms to turn the discipline around, make it more pragmatically useful by synthesizing all the social sciences.  Rather than using the old laws of history, they would develop laws of society while integrating them into an historical view. Although the three disciplines, political science, economics, and history, are closely linked, major philosophical differences may support them.  While the Americanized economics discipline, which is often studied in the school of business rather than the school of liberal arts, almost always promote an individualistic free market thinking, the other social sciences often promote a more collectivist approach.

 

This site maintains links in the three different areas of history to your left.