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How important to the practice of history were the innovations of empiricists such as Leopold von Ranke in the 19th century? How significant were the criticisms of those ideals, which had emerged by the mid-twentieth century?

The concept of history according to Leopold von Ranke

The role of history in human life is inevitable and cannot be avoided in all circumstances. History plays a key role in the affairs of the human being, daily events and how people react to the daily activities they carry out. When someone understands the concept of history, he or she is in a position to make critical decisions concerning the current situations. The situations may be worse at some point and need a sound decision for one to get the best out of the situation. Consequently, there are various philosophers that try to explain various histories to the current regime to make them more understandable and impactful in the daily lives.

Leopold von Rank is a renown historian from Germany who brings the concept of history and its significance to the current generation. The historian goes into books for influencing the profession of history in the world. The main ideas covered by Leopold von Rank mostly covers the United States of America and Europe in the late days of the 19th century. When discussing history on the aspects laid out by Leopold, there are issues that are clearly answered based on the findings. For instance, given the concept, one is able to know the components of history, how history influences the current behaviors of people today among other issues.

Leopold in his work as a historian had a capability to accomplish some issues such as organizing classrooms and seminars to analyze the historical documents. After successfully, implementing the seminars and classroom education, Leopold lays out the requirements which are to be used during the later historical writings. Apart from the standards, Ranke provides the understanding of ideas such as empiricism. Empiricism is a key element when narrating on the international politics and other ideas which are historical.

Ranke, in his work as a historian, was not convinced that the concept provided by the early historian could bring true meaning to the current generation and therefore he embarked on a mission that would change the history and how the coming generation would view at the history. The steps made by Ranke have some significance not only to an individual but also to many institutions in the world. Apparently, after the Ranke perspective on history, many institutions had started giving history more time and well-informed professors to teach on the part of history.

At one point, Leopold made a statement that his understanding concerning the ideas that are leading is that the ideas are prone to dominating tendencies every century. According to him, all the named tendencies should not be summarized in one concept but a clear description should be given to all the tendencies. At the earlier stages Leopold was not much influential, however, when it came to the 19th century, his name was dominant in historical work of western countries.  The historical work of Rank was not a walk in the park but faced some critics. One of the most critics of Ranke Karl Marx who was a Hegelian. Karl Marx argued that Leopold was taking part in an act of criticizing the other historians.

Significance of Leopold's work

There is another sign of Ranke work as a historian which emerged before the outbreak of the world wars. Leopold wrote a book with an aim that he would oneness of experiences of some bigger nations such as England, Germany, and Scandinavia and on the other hand France, Italy, and Spain. The statement showed that the bond between nations which came as a result of civilization crusade realized civilization in Europe which is more modernized than ever before. In the part of his statement, he argued that history should always insist on how things were exactly there. The statement gained a crucial significant because many historians used the statement as the guiding word while writing on the history.

The idea of Ranke that the historians should give the facts the way they gave rise to a heated debate among the historians. In the beginning, many of them supported the idea but as the time goes, the idea received several critics. The historians that were criticizing the matter claimed that when historians bring idea the way they were, the will be only documenting the events but not giving out the explanations on how things were happening. Explanations would provide a deeper meaning of the facts as compared to just documenting the matters. The historians such as Peter Novick claimed that, even though Leopold is right in his idea, but he should allow the historians to study the events then summaries all of them the way they should be in order to provide a clear understanding of the matters. Actually, Peter Novick sees that Ranke is much educated and so idealistic as compared to other historians from America, however, his ideas should be amended slightly to give room for more understanding document. The critics Ranke was receiving day in day out was now shaping up on how history should be written to assist the other generations to understand the matter better.

Apart from the first book, Leopold again wrote a statement that would influence the way the history of events should be represented. He argued that everyone seeking to be a historian must first check “Holy hieroglyph” meaning the Almighty way in the history.  The idea was important as many historians would now be Godly as compared to the early days of writing history.

In today's world, the significance of Leopold work in history is much evidence. The students who take history as a career sees the significance of the primary sources in history. Actually, it is very hard for the historical documents to show a clear meaning to the reader without the incorporation of the primary sources of history. The idea of incorporating the primary sources did not come from anywhere but from one and only historian Rank. On the other hand, around the year 1824, Ranke had a book which was so much influence in the part of history. The book was known as the History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations 1494-1514. This book had an important part known as the critique of modern historical writing. The part claimed that the traditional was of writing and viewing the history was not acceptable. The reason was that it tended to be inaccurate, unreliable and most importantly it was biased. After that, Ranke proposes the modern ways of writing the history. The scientific way of writing history would be accurate and would do away with the biases.

Criticism of Leopold's ideas

The scientific way of writing history as an advice to the upcoming historians is that every time one has to write history, all his or her arguments must be based on the primary sources. Ranke had several projects that were based on theories and from there some of the critiques could now change the way of writing the historical documents. Another issue is that sometimes the upcoming historians would find themselves at a crossroads. There exist historians who were not supporting the Leopold claims as others came to be convinced by the directions provided b the great historian. When an event happens, after some time it turns out to be a history. The issue can only come again when one brings it through media and documentation. However, there can be challenged on how to elaborate the matter to be seen as a lively event by those who are viewing or reading it at any moment regardless on the number of years that have passed.

In today’s world studying history is not only a profession but also a way of earning the living. Many historians publish books daily explaining different types of concept that had happened several years ago. The issue is whether the audience is getting the message well or it is not making sense. Ranke has outlined on the ways of coming up with a historical document. The guiding is most important to all the upcoming historians. Many historians criticized the move proposed by Leopold of how to transforming the events into facts that can be read and understood by the reader

The Leopold way of bringing history into a lively event remains to be important in the life of writing the historical ideas. The issues such as empiricism and historiography proposed by Ranke are important. However, in today’s world, some of the writers see the ideas as outdated and cannot be used as a methodology to come up with a historical document. In the 20th century, some philosophers saw the Ranke ways as the most boring and have no impact while writing the historical documents. The philosophers included Fernand Braudel and Car. The two philosophers argued that they were not just collecting the facts and recording them in the document but first analyzed the facts before deciding which facts to give out to the reader.

On the side of Ranke, he had given the direction that each event happening should be viewed individually and document developed on its own. For instance, the case of world war, the two united groups of countries were viewed and studied separately by Ranke.

In summary, the historians play an important role in the society. However, they must give claims must always be true. Ranke standard ways of coming up with the historical document are crucial. There critics towards the move of famous historian Leopold but all these critics are strengthening the way in which historical documents are being presented today. The other philosophers are coming up with other ways which would ensure that what is given to the students and the society is much realistic and comply with the generation that is there today.   

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Ziolkowski, T. (2016). The Nineteenth-Century German University and German Idealism. In Reexamining Academic Freedom in Religiously Affiliated Universities (pp. 25-43). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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