Historical Truth and Lies About the Past: Reflections on Dewey, Dreyfus, de Man, and Reagan / Edition 1

Historical Truth and Lies About the Past: Reflections on Dewey, Dreyfus, de Man, and Reagan / Edition 1

by Alan B. Spitzer
     
 

ISBN-10: 0807845981

ISBN-13: 9780807845981

Pub. Date: 09/30/1996

Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press

Historians have long struggled with the questions of historical relativism, objectivity, and standards of proof and evidence. Intellectual historian Alan Spitzer focuses on the contradiction between theory and practice by presenting case studies of four politically charged debates about the past: the response to the report of the commission chaired by John

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Overview

Historians have long struggled with the questions of historical relativism, objectivity, and standards of proof and evidence. Intellectual historian Alan Spitzer focuses on the contradiction between theory and practice by presenting case studies of four politically charged debates about the past: the response to the report of the commission chaired by John Dewey that evaluated the accusations made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Purge Trials of 1937, the Dreyfus Affair in turn-of-the-century France, the allegations about the extent and meaning of literary critic Paul de Man's complicity with the German occupation forces in wartime Belgium, and Ronald Reagan's justification for his 1987 visit to a German cemetery where Nazi SS officers are buried.

Spitzer's argument centers on the ways in which the authority of 'objective' criteria for historical judgment are introduced in politicized disputes about the past, regardless of the theoretical qualification or repudiation of such standards. The higher the political stakes, the more likely the antagonists are to appeal to generally warranted standards of relevant evidence and rational inference. Spitzer's commentary speaks to issues that transcend the specific content of the four cases he discusses.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807845981
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/30/1996
Edition description:
1
Pages:
174
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.50(d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Historical Argument When the Political Chips Are Down
Chapter 1. John Dewey, the "Trial" of Leon Trotsky, and the Search for Historical Truth
Chapter 2. Versions of Truth in the Dreyfus Case
Chapter 3. The Debate over the Wartime Writings of Paul de Man: The Language of Setting the Record Straight
Chapter 4. Ronald Reagan's Bitburg Narrative
Conclusion
Appendix A: Letter from Paul de Man to Harvard Authorities
Appendix B: "The Jews in Contemporary Literature"
Index

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