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Ascribing responsibility and the interpretation of history

09 Mar

“Indeed, isn’t the whole business of ascribing responsibility a kind of cop-out? We want to blame an individual so that everyone else is exculpated. Or we can blame a historical process as a way of exonerating individuals. Or it’s all anarchic chaos, with the same consequence. It seems to me that there is – was – a chain of individual responsibilities all of which were necessary but not so long a chain that everybody can simply blame everyone else. But of course, my desire to ascribe responsibility might be more a reflection of my own cast of mind than a fair analysis of what happened. That’s one of the central problems of history, isn’t it sir? The question of subjective versus objective interpretation, the fact that we need to know the history of the historian in order to understand the version that it being put in front of us.”

Adrian Finn

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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Books

 

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