The Autonomy of History: Truth and Method from Erasmus to Gibbon

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University of Chicago Press, Dec 15, 1999 - History - 249 pages
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In these learned essays, Joseph M. Levine shows how the idea and method of modern history first began to develop during the Renaissance, when a clear distinction between history and fiction was first proposed. The new claims for history were met by a new skepticism in a debate that still echoes today.

Levine's first three essays discuss Thomas More's preoccupation with the distinction between history and fiction; Erasmus's biblical criticism and the contribution of Renaissance philology to critical method; and the way in which Renaissance rhetoric, as in Thomas Elyot's Book of the Governor, continued to inhibit the autonomy of history. He then shows how these issues persisted into the eighteenth century, even as critical method developed. He concludes with a close description of the great controversy that culminated in Edward Gibbon's day over the authenticity of a biblical text that had been used for centuries to defend the Trinity but which turned out to be a forgery. Levine shows how by then all sides were ready to concede the autonomy of history.

 

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Contents

THE PROMISE OF GENESIS
1
WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN SCIENTIST
23
THE REPUBLIC OF SCIRNCE
37
A WORLD WITHOUT JOHN DEWEY
63
A MAGNIFICENT LABORATORY A MAGNIFICENT CONTROL ROOM
95
CHURCHING AMERICAN SOLDIERA
121
RENDEZVOUS AT RANCHO LA BREA
147
TWO MEN OF SCIENCE
171
TRANSGRESSING THE HEAVENS
225
THE RELIGIOUS POSSIBILITIES OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
253
THE RELIGION OF SCIENCE
273
SPACE GOTHIC IN SEATTLE
297
CONCLUSION
321
NOTES
325
INDEX
391
Copyright

ALMOST A MESSAGE FROM GOD HIMSELF
199

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About the author (1999)

Levine is Distinguished Professor of History at Syracuse University.

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