Un mauvais quart d’heure


Un mauvais quart d’heure, the French say, of those painful 15 minutes when a son must tell his father that he failed in school or that he stole, or when a man thinks he now must tell his woman that he will leave her. They have to tell the truth: a truth. Now, near the end of my career as a historian, I have a truth to tell. So, for 15 minutes, please bear with me. I was still very young when I saw that historians, or indeed scholars and scientists and human beings of all kinds, are not objective. Many who wished to impress the world thought that they were objective. And there are still many historians and even more scientists of that kind, men with gray ice on their faces. But isn’t objectivity an ideal? No: because the purpose of human knowledge—indeed, of human life itself—is not accuracy, and not even certainty; it is understanding.

more from American Scholar here.