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“Historiographical Source”: Problems of the Concept’s History and Interpretation

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Abstract. The article addresses the “historiographical source” as a core concept in the science of historiography. Having emerged 50 years ago, it has undergone evolution and has been filled with new content. The article identifies several stages in understanding the evolution of the concept. The first stage identified certain intuitiveness, mixing “source” with the concept of historiographical fact. Among successes of the next stage were the meaningful definitions, the tendency to expand understanding by developing the subject field of historiography. It is important to note that the theoretical reflection during the Soviet period was based on the objectivist orientation in the knowledge of historical reality. That was followed by the possibility of establishing a hierarchy of historiographical sources over the supposed “proximity” to the historical reality. In the post-Soviet period, a paradigm shift gradually emerged, directly affecting the topic of the historiographical source. A focus of the article is given to new views on the source, based on an understanding of the sociocultural context around Humanities. As a reaction to the continuing blurring of the subject of historiography, one may consider the emergence of versions in a narrow interpretation of the historiographical source. A paradigm shift is the reorientation of historiographers from analyzing the content of the source to examining its nature. However, this change of perspective did not contribute to the unity of opinions about the source. The article concludes that the trend towards an extended understanding of the source prevails. Today, the prospects are seen in the rejection of the very construction of “historiographical source”, in the introduction of an additional concept of “biohistorographic source”, etc. The author also sees the potential in the acquisition of a new status of distinct types of historiographical sources.

Keywords: historiographical source, classification of historiographical sources, historiographical fact, internalism, externalism, biohistoriography.

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