Prof. dr. Igor Grdina: History cannot be objective, but it must be unbiased if it wants to reach excellence

As part of the Harvesting knowledge project, on 14 June 2011, the National Assembly hosted a public lecture by prof. dr. Igor Grdina, head of the Institute for Cultural History at SRC SASA in Ljubljana and full professor of Slovene literature and history of culture at the University in Nova Gorica.


Thematically, history has no limits, said prof. dr. Grdina in his lecture entitled “How to treat history?”. “In its core, it is one of the fundamental strategies allowing us to recognize and interpret the world – through science, art or philosophy. Yet it is not only different from them – it cannot be overlooked that it is also contiguous to them. Sooner or later, they all – science, art or philosophy – figure in it.”
It is hardly important to know who researches history, but it does make a difference knowing who includes it as the theme of their texts, he emphasized. Primarily, history’s purpose should be to foster understanding of oneself and of others. “History is much more than simply experiencing or being aware of the past: to the same – if not even greater – extent it is experiencing the present.” According to prof. dr. Grdina, the present is the temporary end of chronology and the beginning of memory. In terms of chronology, history moves from completed former times towards present times, which open in all directions, while in terms of memory, it moves from the present into the depth of the past. Depth of past recollection declines as the distance of generations increases. 
History is not an experimental science, says prof. dr. Grdina, as nothing can happen twice even if its repetition seems obvious. History can deduct its conclusions only from analysis of consequences of one-time actions. “Approximately three full generations, i.e. between 75 and 90 years must pass for all consequences of certain occurrences to reveal themselves,” says prof. dr. Grdina and adds that distance is an element of cognition which enables "history as preliminary (and not revisionist) discipline to not be synonymous to dispute, but to the type of comprehensive knowledge we call experience. And that is always personal. Therefore history cannot be objective. Yet it can be unbiased. And it is unbiased when it aims to reach excellence." 
                                                            Nataša Gerkeš
                                                    Public relations service, MHEST