John Lewis Gaddis The Landscape Of History Analysis

In the book, The Landscape of History, John Lewis Gaddis compares the study of history to the study of natural science. He presents many convincing observations about how the two fields of study are alike. In addition to informing his readers about the similarities between the natural sciences and history, he also makes a case that history is very different from social sciences, which it is often grouped with.
Throughout his book, Gaddis presents his readers with many examples of how history is like the natural sciences and how the natural sciences are becoming more like history. The most obvious reason as to why the two are alike is that they both deal with facts. History is not something that is made up, it is based on events and situations
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One of the most significant differences is that there is no universal truth in history as there is in the natural sciences. In the natural sciences when something is discovered, the experiment is repeated several times by multiple people to be certain that the findings were true and not a fluke. Once the discoveries are proven, it becomes the accepted fact and that fact is most of the time undisputed, but in history more is left up to interpretation. An important event that happened can have many differing views on how it occurred and what were the major influences that caused it. “It’s part of historical consciousness to learn the same thing: that there is no “correct” interpretation of the past, but that the act of interpreting is itself a vicarious enlargement of experience from which you can benefit” (Gaddis, 10). Even though there is no single truth that is agreed on, one can learn from the experiences and knowledge that comes from attempting to find the truth. Another important difference that Gaddis writes about is that some natural scientists are able to repeat their experiments in order to determine the truth and what is happening, but historians do not have the ability to do that. He writes, “we cannot relive, retrieve, or rerun it as we might some laboratory experiment or computer simulation” (Gaddis, 3). He tells his readers that historians can only study something that has already happened, so they lack the ability of scientists to be able to repeat these events in order to further their study of them. Although he points out that historians cannot create the exact experiment he also mentions that there are certain subfields in the natural sciences that are also unable to recreate the exact conditions of the time and place for use in their studies. These natural scientists include, paleontologists, geologists, and astrologists whose studies focus on things

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