Is history a science or an art

Posted in History
at 2016.05.31
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If we look at history it is a sum total of the social, economic, art and scientific advancement of the yesteryears. Knowing the past plays a very important role in understanding the present and planning the future. Majority of scholars around the world are involved in a discussion to club it in the category of arts and some others want to project it as a science. Let’s analyze the both perspectives in detail.

history science or art

History with scientific basis:

Detailed observation of the facts in the past is termed as history. Interpretation through scientific reasoning and rational thinking creates a narration. Different types of methods and classifications are used to describe the important events. For instance, human evolution is best described by the Charles Darwin theory based on scientific observation.

Many scholars consider history to be the unraveling of the truth related to past happenings. One of the problems with the above mentioned perspective is that you cannot bind it within the simple realms of physics and chemistry. In addition, historical data cannot be used to interpret a pattern in order to formulate a theory. Chronologies of the events are more complex and they rarely repeat themselves.

Another school of thought is of the view that history can be defined by social science. Data over the centuries can be collected and stored at one place. They should be carefully analyzed and classified into groups. Theories can be propounded but only after detailed observation.

Artistic perspective of the history:

Building a narration different from the scientific observation:

Art is a method of implementing the scientific knowledge to discover and interpret the historical facts. It is also concerned with art and architecture of the glorious past that have become the cynosure of all eyes of the tourist in present time.

Using the artistic perspective, historical facts are discovered by drawing inferences. Therefore, the view points of different historians might be different. Drawing indirect conclusions from the events is the method used by scholars treating history as an art.

Evaluation of historical facts:

History should be evaluated not from the present perspective but from past. Natural sciences use modern tools and view points to understand the facts however comprehending the significance of the political upheavals in the past requires detailed analysis of the social situation existent in those times.

Historical data cannot be use to derive simple inferences:

Historical evolution or destruction of the society depends on the external as well as internal factors. The former is concerned with the outside environment that led to the chain of events and the latter pertains to the psyche of the people living in the past. Neither a historian nor a scientist can observe the events and deduce patterns. For instance, historical happenings do not repeat themselves as they are unique to the region, time and the people.

Historians do not have the luxury of the scientists to make generic conclusions. History may or may not repeat in the future as it is an amalgamation of knowledge as well as actions. What the modern man can do is to analyze the history and do not commit the mistakes that their predecessors did. Probably, this would be the biggest takeaway from all the past facts and events.


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