Khaldun’s attitude towards history can be described quite sufficiently by applying the term scientific and this attitude reflects quite clearly in his writings. Of course, he does appreciate the art of the historian since he accepts that historian of the past have had a high aim for teaching and educating people with their works of learning that show how ancient people lived. For instance, he believes that there are valuable lessons to be drawn from the study of previous works of history since they give information on both worldly and religious subjects.
However, he is also quite adamant on the point that getting information from one source alone is not enough for a student of history because additional sources help to verify and confirm the information contained within one source. This approach is clearly scientific since a theory or a fact gains acceptance as more and more researchers come to the same conclusion on a hypothesis. Additionally, Khaldun suggests that anyone who is studying history must evaluate the given information on his/her own before accepting tradition as the truth.
As an example, he discusses how monetary figures, military numbers, and other such points can be exaggerated or completely falsified. In the case of estimating military might he suggests that a historian study the figures and see if the numbers are realistically possible given the social setup of a country. Taking a commonsense approach to the study of history is certainly something which can help improve the understanding of a historian.
In these terms, his appreciation for the older works of history becomes lower because he notices how numbers given for the armies of a country do not match up with the size of the nations and how the genealogy of certain figures does not match up with the time passed between the forefathers and the famous figures. Therefore while the student can learn history from ancient texts, they have to be taken with a grain of salt because the certain information within the text may not be as accurate as it would seem.
In short, Khaldun’s ideas about the study of history can be summarized as taking a realistic as well as a scientific approach to the study of history and his opinion about older texts certainly shows this method to work quite well. Common sense and simple analytical analysis can show what the real situation might have been like for the history of the past while the works of previous historians can be taken as general guidelines rather than the absolute truth for the majority of cases where there is a chance of falsification.
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