History and Theory 26 (4):30-46 (1987)

Recent studies of historical synthesis have denied the possibility of "truth" in historical narratives, which they state impose meaning on a series of events. An historian is, however, capable of writing a true history, true in the sense that his or her narrative provides a fair representation of its central subject. Descriptions represent the world when they give us an idea that resembles part of the world itself. A subject can be said to be fairly represented if an author follows certain procedures: events must be presented chronologically; the main changes that occurred in the subject must be described; there must not be descriptions or omissions which might give a misleading impression of the subject; and the subject should be explained at a consistent level of generality and with a consistent level of detail. An historian motivated by preconceptions rather than the desire to represent a subject fairly, will not write a true history. Preconceptions are not incompatible with writing true histories, however, as long as they are discarded when an historian learns that they are incompatible with a fair representation. Analysis can be supplementary to, but is never a substitute for, accurate historical representation of a subject
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DOI 10.2307/2505043
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