“Objective” history a figment of post-Enlightenment imagination

The idea that history isn’t tainted by the one writing it is completely silly. Even if he is honestly going out of his way to avoid pouring in his own ideology, it cannot be escaped. The language he knows and uses, his own depth or breadth of education, all of these things affect what chooses to get put down or not. Or even unconsciously chooses what he notices or not when reading an old document, or even digging up bones.

Shift sideways to theology for a sec: Incidentally, while pausing for a moment in the middle of writing this, I saw a good post at the Mockingbird blog (run by some hip Lutherans), about the absurdity of taking the moral high ground by claiming to have no religious beliefs at all. Ya see it all the time though folks.

The idea of objective JOURNALISM is even more silly, though unedited video perhaps has some potential. Wilson’s post on how the future of journalism lies in being openly partisan is really worth taking a look at.

Here, N.T. Wright addresses the subject. Perhaps it’s unfortunate that he has to:

I shall argue [later] that all history involves selection, arrangement, and so on, and that the idea of a ‘neutral’ or ‘objective’ history is a figment of post-Enlightenment imagination. If we must make any distinction here, it is better to think of ‘public’ and ‘private’ tasks, rather than ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’.

Yet the positivist element still remains, advocating a value-free and dogma-free historiography as though such a thing were really attainable. This approach is, in a measure, self-refuting: Raisanen’s [a major promonent of this view] own account of the history of the discipline is itself a good example of selection and arrangement on the basis of prior conceptions.

-N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, p.16

UPDATE: Perhaps it too easy to trash talk. A bit of balance is needed.