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Reading: The Method of History and Linguistic Relativism


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The Method of History and Linguistic Relativism


Danielle Scheil

University of Bayreuth, DE
About Danielle
Danielle Scheil is a Canadian student doing her Masters degree in Philosophy and Economics. Her passion however is the environment and she is deeply engaged in environmental ethics and issues around climate change. She hopes to pursue her PhD in Environmental Studies (as well as start an animal rescue for senior dogs!). Aside from this, she is passionate about languages which helped spark the inspiration for this paper.
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This paper presents a critique of Collingwood's method of history based on the theory of linguistic relativism. Collingwood's proposed method of history (MOH) is an interpretative method used to gain insight into historical events based on the re-enactment of the thoughts of past agents in one's own mind. The theory of linguistic relativity is employed to high- light the diculty of obtaining accurate and reliable knowledge through the MOH. This difficulty arises due to the fact that conceptions of reality are shaped by language. Historians will not be able to re-create past thoughts because the vast changes in language over time will have caused alterations in the way thoughts are formed. Therefore, linguistic relativism will cause discrepancies between the original thought of the past agent and the historians' critical re-enactment of the thought.

How to Cite: Scheil, D., 2016. The Method of History and Linguistic Relativism. Rerum Causae, 8(2), pp.27–36.
Published on 01 Jul 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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