History as a Communication Problem

3 April 2008, 17:00 - 19:00

CRASSH

Professor John D Peters (University of Iowa)

Respondent: Professor Georgina Born (University of Cambridge) 

Professor Peters discusses the three main issues in the philosophy of history – the historical record, its transmission, and its interpretation – and how these three problems are also central to the philosophy of communication. 

Communication history is not only a supplement to historical enquiry; it is a challenge to how we approach history itself.  Studying the past can be productively understood as a problem of  communication.  The business of historians is to evaluate documents in terms of their date, provenance, author, authenticity, tradition, and so on.  A historian’s first question of a document is not, What does it say?, but rather, How did it come to be?, or perhaps even more, How did it end up here?  The very fact that it (still) exists at all may be the most telling fact.  The past rarely comes down to us undisturbed by the gap between past and present; the form of the past is itself shaped by the historical processes we are trying to understand. 


 

All welcome. No registration required.

Professor Peters is also speaking at the conference on 4 and 5 April, The Ethics of Media: Philosophical Foundations and Practical Imperatives, for which booking is required.