Peter Novick's That Noble Dream: The Objection

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Novick, Peter. That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Peter Novick's That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession is book of tendencies. Studying the works of many noteworthy historians is shown to expose a story about the tendencies of their thought. It is a work of historiography tracing the development of the American historical profession, identifying the professional norms of their practice, and presenting a series of arguments about the profession's objectives and concerns over the "Objectivity Question". Novick asserts his work has no unifying thesis (17). While this and other efforts at full disclosure are considerable, his stated purpose divulges his goal to do more than merely enlighten the reader. "The book's aim is to provoke my fellow historians to greater self-consciousness about the nature of our work," Novick wrote of his motivation (17). It is obvious that Novick is going to try to convince historians that they should be more self-critical of their work and thought. Set in in this argument is…show more content…
On the one hand, "the attack on moral relativism was part of an effort to rearm the West spiritually" for the battle ahead, while "the attack on cognitive relativism aimed at making a clear distinction between the scholarship and science of the Free World and the debased practices of its enemies" (282). In the long run, the opinions should fall beyond the margins of historiography, and therefore the judgment of any work of historiography should not be preset by a conceptual disagreement. Novick's perspective on the objectivity question undoubtedly guided his book. However, his beliefs are unable to create the past. Even the most simple personal beliefs and bias can skew the appearance we see of the
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