Sociological Historiography?

"Soziologische Geschichtsschreibung?" Der Jude, Vol. 8, No. 3 (March 1924).  Reprinted Gesammelte Schriften: Band 2.  Reprinted in Leo Strauss: The Early Writings.


Every author is measured first of all by the standard that he expressly acknowledges in his own work.  The best way to dispose of an author is therefore to prove that he fails to achieve what he strives for.

The ideal of knowledge striven for in Dubnow’s historical research is that of “objectivity.”  Now, objectivity can be understood in very different ways.  Let us assume that what it means is refraining from passion-driven judgments; a calm weighing of both sides of every issue (and hence also of Jewish history in the period from 1881 to 1914); avoidance of all doctrinairism in assessing historical facts; a critical, possibly skeptical, assessment of even those facts which the party politics of the author’s position could, for tactical reasons, bid him to take seriously in good faith.  This arbitrary and not well organized list of criteria of “objectivity” conforms with the most blatant forms of “subjectivity” that characterize the historical work of Dubnow.

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