What is History? This is the understanding according to experts

What is history? Sinaumed’s is certainly no stranger to the term “history”. According to the most common definition, the word  history  (English) means “the past of mankind”. The word can be compared to  geschichte  (German), which comes from the word  geschehen , which means “something that has happened”. The meaning of the word history is often found in everyday sayings, such as “all history teaches something” or “lessons of history”.

What is History? Understanding History

The word  history (English) comes from the noun  historia  (Greek) or read  istoria  which means “knowledge”. Aristotle uses this term as a systematic and non-chronological account of a set of natural phenomena, either in the form of a systematic or non-chronological arrangement.

However, the word scientia  (Latin) in its development is more often used to refer to systematic accounts, while the word istoria  is usually reserved for descriptions of phenomena (especially human affairs) in chronological order.

This understanding emphasizes that history concerns both events and time. Therefore, the problem of time is very important in understanding an event. It is here that historians tend to overcome this problem by making periodizations.

Based on that, Sinaumed’s can realize that history cannot be reconstructed. Humans’ past for the most part cannot be recalled, even those who are gifted with sharp memories will not be able to reconstruct their past, because in everyone’s life there must be events, people, words, thoughts, places, and images that when they occurred made no impression or are now forgotten.

Furthermore, the experience of a generation that has long been dead, most of whose members have left no records, or whose records, if any, have never reached historians, is unlikely to be fully recalled.

Thus, the reconstruction of humanity’s total past is a goal they fully realize is unattainable, even if it is the goal of historians.

History, babad, saga, history, or tambo in Indonesian can then be interpreted as incidents and events that really happened in the past or genealogies for kings.

Understanding History According to Experts

According to some experts, the word “history” has the following meanings.

1. J. Bank

History is all past events or events. History serves to understand past, present, and future behavior.

2. Robin Winks

History is the study of humans in social life.


History is a science that traces and locates events in time and space regarding
human development.

4.Sir Charles Firth

History records human life, its continuous changes, ideas, and material conditions that have helped or hindered its development.

5. John Tosh

History is a collective memory as well as experience through the development of a sense of human social identity and the prospects for that human being in the future.

6. Motahhari

He argues that there are three ways of defining history, namely:

  1. Tarikh naqli (traditional history) is knowledge of events, incidents, and
    circumstances in the past that are related to the present.
  2. ilmy date (scientific history) is knowledge of the laws that governed past lives through the approach and analysis of past events.
  3. Philosophical history (philosophy of history) is knowledge of changes that occur gradually.

7. Sidi Gazalba

History as the human past and its surroundings which are compiled scientifically and completely, includes a sequence of facts with interpretations that give meaning and understanding of something that is happening.

8. Sartono Kartodirjo

History is a picture of the past of humans and their surroundings as social beings, which are compiled scientifically and completely. History in it includes the sequence of facts of that period with interpretations and explanations that provide an understanding of something that has passed.

Historical Rules

History Is Fact

Sinaumed’s needs to know that the main difference between history and fiction is the presentation. History presents facts, while works of fiction present imagination, fantasy, and fantasy. As for the chronicles, saga, poetry, and babad which were mostly written long after the events, the standard procedure of historical criticism must be applied.

Such, for example, are the books History of Malays, Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai, Poems of the Berkas War, and Chronicle of Tanah Jawi. For historians, there is not a single historical source that escapes historical criticism.

History Is Diachronic, Ideographical, and Unique

History is diachronic, while social science is synchronic. That is, history extends in time, while social science extends in space. History will talk about one place from time A to time B.

History tries to see everything from a span of time. That is, seeing change, continuity, lagging behind, and leaps and bounds. Meanwhile, social science is synchronic, meaning it extends in space. The space is wide, but the time is short. Like studying a tree, the synchronic sciences are interested in discussing the structure that forms it.

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History is also diachronic, meaning that it describes (describes, describes, tells) only. Social science is nomothetic (Greek) which means law. That is, trying to put forward the laws. For example, they both wrote about revolution.

History is considered successful if it can describe a revolution in detail down to the smallest details. Instead, social science will investigate revolutions and try to find the laws that are common to all revolutions.

This is what causes history to be unique, while social science is generic. Historical research will look for things that are unique and unique, applicable only to something at a time. For this reason, history is also referred to as an ideographic science.

Historical topics, such as the Revolution in Indonesia, the Revolution in France, and the Revolution in China did not occur anywhere else and only happened once at a time. As for the topics of social science, for example Sociology of Revolution, Sociology of Rural Communities, and Sociology of Urban Areas, they will discuss the general laws that apply to all revolutions.

If diachronic and synchronic have merged, history will become social theory. Meanwhile, ideographic and unique elements still remain. The historical approach in the social sciences, on the other hand, has always existed, as has it in political, social, and economic research. For the rest, there is a narrative historical tendency, so it is similar to a novel.

History is Empirical

This is what distinguishes between history and religious knowledge. History is empirical, while religious knowledge is normative. Because, history rests on real human experience. Religious knowledge that is normative does not mean that it does not have empirical elements, only that which is normative is the reference.

For example, unclean boundaries stem from normative law. It’s the same as Hasan Bangil who allows someone to keep a dog, and he has a different definition from the Shafi’i school of uncleanness.

There is an empirical element, but the legal basis is syar’i, uncleanness is normative. Meanwhile, history is purely empirical, based on facts, and not based on laws (whether normative, scientific or constitutional). Without empirical, experience, and facts, historians cannot speak.

History and Definition of Social Sciences

Despite many concerns, the use of natural science generalizations by historians is growing. For example, it is no coincidence that recently there has been a great deal of attention from the histories of cities, railroads, and commerce to the history of prices and social thinking.

It is here that the scope of attention of historians tends to be dominated by the law of demand and supply, while the needs of other disciplines for certain types of data encourage historians to try to fulfill that need.

Thus, the historians seek to:

  1. Finding single cases that will provide illustrations for social science generalizations;
  2. Finding single cases that would refute a social science generalization;
  3. Applying a social science generalization to a historical trend or series of concurrent events.

In these three attempts, historians try to change, strengthen, or propose exceptions to a general idea, which is borrowed from other social disciplines in the hope that sociological propositions will shed some light on the causal relationship between historical phenomena.

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  • History and Meaning of the Proclamation of Independence for Indonesia

Historical Methodology

Method is a procedural way to do and do something in an orderly and planned system. So, there are strict prerequisites in a historical research, which are procedural and systematic.

This is where methodology is often referred to as the study of methods. The method is more of a person’s way of acquiring knowledge, while the methodology has a higher level because it is a way of knowing.

Methodology must consider the framework of concepts, categories, models, hypotheses, and general procedures in developing a theory. The theory is the rule that underlies a symptom and has been verified.

By understanding the theoretical framework and concepts, historians can explain phenomena critically. Likewise history can explain theories in the world of philosophy into something concrete because it departs from the reality on the ground.

That is why the cultivation of history requires theory and methodology. Methodology as a science and thinking about methods cannot be studied without discussing theoretical and conceptual issues.

At least, there are two major groups in the flow of historical writing, namely:

  1. Narrative history ( narrative history ), namely the writing of history in the form of narrative without utilizing theory and methodology. The author simply narrates the events and processes chronologically, without explaining the causes of these events.
  2. History of analysis ( analytical history ) , namely historical writing that utilizes theory and methodology. The author explains the origins, causes, tendencies, conditions, and changes at that time by linking political, social, cultural, and so on issues.
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The analytical knife used is adjusted to the object to be studied. To make an analysis, a theoretical framework and concept of thought is needed. The theoretical framework is not considered important in narrative history writing because it is included in the description. Instead, the theoretical framework characterizes the writing of analytical history.

Narrative explanations of history are only able to answer initial questions and are unable to provide answers to more comprehensive follow-up questions.

Historical analysis is considered capable of answering the weaknesses of narrative history. To arrive at the history of analysis, the presence of theories and concepts is a must. In the context of writing the history of this analysis, a method and methodology are needed.

Historical Methodology Flow

As a procedure, the method proposes the following prerequisites.


Derived from the Greek heuristiken which means to find or gather sources. In relation to history, of course what is meant by sources are scattered historical sources in the form of notes, testimonies, and other facts that can provide a description of an event that concerns human life. This can be categorized as a historical source.

Materials as historical sources are then used as a tool, not a goal. In other words, someone must have data beforehand to write history. The study of sources is a separate science called heuristics.

Writing history is not possible without the availability of historical sources. Historical sources are divided into four categories, namely:

  • Material sources , namely historical sources in the form of objects that can be seen physically. These sources can be divided into written sources ( records ), such as documents, archives, letters, diaries, photos, and files.
  • Physical sources in the form of objects ( remains ) in the form of artifacts such as ceramics, household tools, weapons, agricultural or hunting tools, paintings, and jewelry. The location of the artifacts according to their function is called a site;
  • Non-material or immaterial sources , namely in the form of traditions, religions, beliefs, and so on;
  • Oral sources, namely in the form of testimonies, saga, songs, songs, and so on.

Source Criticism

The sources that have been collected are then verified or tested through a series of criticisms, both external and internal.


After the facts are compiled, then interpretation is carried out. Interpretation is very essential and crucial in historical methodology.


Historiography is the final stage in historical research. It was at this stage that the writing of history became the consciousness of the chroniclers of their time.

Compilation of Historical Data

Sinaumed’s, it should be noted that the most reasonable arrangement of historical data is chronological arrangement, namely in time periods. This is because chronology seems to be the only objective and constant norm which historians must take into account.

Chronology is relatively objective, as periodization can often be arbitrary. This arbitrariness is most prominent in the periodization of the history of thought or movement, for example the mention of the Age of Faith, the Barque Period, the Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the Age of Progress.

These terms sometimes lead to misrepresentations, thus offsetting the expected didactic gains. Too easy mentions give the impression that such prominent developments or ideals did not exist in other times in such conspicuous circumstances.

The act of giving a historical period a descriptive name is perhaps the best way to understand its values. However, this advantage is lost if the search for other frames of reference is neglected.

There is no single era that can be named precisely by giving a single, exclusive character. Such attempts often result in the use of obscure and allegorical terms that provide characterization.

Well, that’s an explanation of the meaning, rules, history and understanding of social science, as well as historical methodology. There is a saying that the past is the best teacher, which is why history can be used as a lesson for someone in the future if it is interpreted properly.

Appreciating and learning from history is one’s wise way to continue to grow and develop, without the accompanying tendencies. Forgotten history also means turning off conscience and intellect to continue to grow.

Sinaumed’s can visit sinaumedia’s book collection at www.sinaumedia.com to obtain references on history, from Indonesian history to world history. Sinaumed’s can also find history textbooks to support learning at school because the books at sinaumedia are in accordance with the applicable curriculum. The following are recommendations for sinaumedia books that Sinaumed’s can read to learn about history so they can fully interpret it. Have a good study.

Find other interesting things at www.sinaumedia.com. sinaumedia as #FriendsWithoutLimits will always present interesting articles and recommendations for the best books for Sinaumed’s.

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Author: Fandy Aprianto Rohman