By J.J. Cohen
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Extra resources for Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science: 6th: International Congress Proceedings: 6th
While a traditional historian would deal with the underlying 36 R. W. FOGEL forces that set the stage for the Franco-Prussian war, he would want to know why Louis Napoleon was more influenced by the hawks than the doves and whether he was fooled by intrigues or convinced by a weighty set of arguments. He would also want to know how important the influence of Napoleon’s strong-willed wife was and whether his gout and other ailments had anything to do with his acquiescence. Another way of making the same point is to say that traditional historians often concentrate on problems in which the influence of the stochastic terms are predominant, while “scientific” historians often concentrate on problems in which the systematic terms are predominant.
While stressing the autonomy of history, Elton and other traditional historians shun exclusiveness. ” While Elton’s views may come close to representing the central tendency of traditional historians, the range of their attitudes toward the social sciences is quite wide, and those who have been more radical in methodology, such as Handlin and 24 R. W. FOGEL Braudel, have done much to pave the way for the new brand of “scientific” history. ” Not only is the range of approaches among traditional historians wide, but the gradations in approach are very fine.
What I mean by traditional^' history, then, is the type of history that was described in the 1954 edition of the Harvard Guide and that was practiced during the 1930s. 1940s, and 1950s, by its authors and by such other distinguished historians as C. Vann Woodward, Kenneth M. Stampp, Allan Nevins, and Richard Hofstadter in the United States; by R. H. Tawney, G. M. Trevelyan, Herbert Butterfield, J. H. Plumb, and G. R. Elton in Great Britain; and by Marc Bloch, Lucien Febvre, and Fernand Braudel in France.