The Rhetoric of American Politics: A Study of Documents

The Rhetoric of American Politics: A Study of Documents

The Rhetoric of American Politics: A Study of Documents

The Rhetoric of American Politics: A Study of Documents

Excerpt

Our knowledge of the past raises philosophical questions analogous to the questions raised by our knowledge of nature. Basically, what is the relationship between the known and the grounds of knowing? This question is not easy to answer in either case. In science, our grounds of knowledge consist of experiments and the reasoning based upon their results that lead us to construct hypotheses. It is then these hypotheses which, when combined with new experimental results, allow us to understand natural phenomena. The feeling is that we understand an event when it relates to an hypothesis in such a way as to allow us to anticipate its consequences. However, it is not only legitimate but necessary for us to question this feeling. Does it result simply from the observation that hypotheses in the past have allowed us to explain events? Can there be grounds more relevant than this?

The historian attempts to understand events through pro-

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