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Theorists vs. Empiricists39:13

This article is more than 17 years old.

As physics seeks a unified theory of the universe, some historians seek a unified theory of past events. History's main objective is to tell and pursue the truth. But is truth relative or absolute? And, can historical truth be established objectively solely through theorization and interpretation without any existing empirical evidence?

According to historian Keith Windschuttle, author of "The Killing of History: How a Discipline is Being Murdered by Literary Critics and Social Theorists," today's literary and social theorists deny the existence of historical truth and substitute real knowledge about the past with radical theorizing. Such a method, in his opinion, obscures the facts on which truth about the past is built.

This week's show featured a lecture that Mr. Windschuttle originally delivered at a conference held at Boston University, titled "Utopian Dreaming: Grand Theory and the Historical Impact of the Radical Intellectual." Afterwards, Richard Pipes, professor emeritus of history from Harvard University, responded with his reactions to the assertions and arguments Mr. Windschuttle made in his lecture.

This program aired on January 20, 2002.

Robin Lubbock Twitter Visual/Social Media
Robin Lubbock produces visual and social media for WBUR.


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