Russian Studies in Philosophy 12 (4):52-63 (1974)

No one denies that in his research the historian, whether consciously or not, guides himself by already acquired knowledge of reality past and present that has undergone certain interpretation. It is usually said that he possesses a certain "view of the world." a certain understanding of the historical process, a certain theory , i.e., conceptions from which he cannot detach himself in the course of his research. Some regard this situation as a kind of "inevitable evil" inherent primarily in the social sciences and demand "pure," "objective" research, i.e., for historical research, that it not be guided by anything but the sources actually employed. There are others who are not disturbed by this situation, for they recognize that "pure" research does not exist even in the natural sciences. And if they make certain demands in this regard, it is not for elimination of the researcher's particular standpoint, guided by the knowledge already acquired, but rather enrichment and perhaps qualitative reconstruction of the knowledge he employs in his research. This knowledge is treated in the given case as a kind of governing mechanism in the process of research. The proponents of both points of view strive for a particular goal: attainment of research results as adequate to reality as possible in a given field, with the only difference that they suggest different paths for attainment of this goal. It may even be stated that these standpoints are not debatable, for adherents of the second point of view will undoubtedly agree that in order to enrich and perhaps reorganize the knowledge used in the research it is necessary to eliminate from it elements of low quality, i.e., speculative, unsupported knowledge that impedes the research. Adherents of the former point of view, however, would not maintain too extreme a position if the knowledge they want to eliminate proves to be scientific knowledge, i.e., confirmed knowledge or, to put it differently, true knowledge. Naturally, this does not mean that no differences exist between these viewpoints
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DOI 10.2753/RSP1061-1967120452
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