Point of View as a Category in Contemporary Historiography

Uhol pohľadu v súčasnej historiografii

The paper aims to give an outline of what the author considers to be the most influential tendencies in contemporary historiography, perspectivism being one of them. The text is divided into a theoretical and a practical part, where an example of a perspectivistic approach is given, commenting a recent work of Irmina Wawryczek of the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. To begin with, perspectivism has become one of the leading approaches in today's humanities, having roots already some centuries ago. The approach is essential to a modern philosophy of history and is to be seen in context of the "boom" of postmodernism and, to name just one more, microhistorical research. It represents an opposition to an "anything-goes-attitude". The crucial question to be raised within it is being articulated as how the humans perceive the world. The answer of perspectivism is inspired by several approaches, such as cross-cultural and gender studies, Alltagsgeschichte or every-day-life-story-research. Every experience consists of two components, the one being pure individual, the other culture-bound matrix of explication, in other words, a matrix of tradition understood as a kind of cumulated experience, or a projection of possible words onto the material of individual experience. This component is bound to language, the examination of history thus being identical with an examination of language itself. Pomorski then sketches an etymological explanation of the polish word for "experience", citing Józef Tischner and arrives at the distinction between the primordial experience and the event of history, placed into the realm of axiology as well and an element of historical reality. A historical event is an objectified, consensual creation leading to "history" as a form of the man's conceptualizing the world, projecting "meaning" onto the original now-and-here . Historiography then deals with the research of historical artifacts, deconstructing the created history, the telling of "what had happened". It is essential to remember that this "telling of history" is not an objective reproduction of what had happened but rather a metonymical act taking place in and through language. In conclusion, Pomorski names an example of such an approach, when commenting Irmina Wawryczek's book on sexual and other cultural habits of colonists in a small North-American village Chesapeak in the 17th century. It is shown that though with not much material basis (written documents), it is possible to reconstruct how an every-day-life there could had been like – and that it is not relevant to see historical research as a quest for the ultimate truth. Historiography is rather a meta-language, commenting and examining how the historians construct the historical reality.