The passage below is accompanied by four questions. Based on the passage, choose the best answer for each question.

The Positivists, anxious to stake out their claim for history as a science, contributed the weight of their influence to the cult of facts. First ascertain the facts, said the positivists, then draw your conclusions from them. . . . This is what may [be] called the common-sense view of history. History consists of a corpus of  ascertained facts. The facts are available to the historian in documents, inscriptions, and so on . . . [Sir George Clark] contrasted the "hard core of facts" in history with the surrounding pulp of disputable interpretation forgetting perhaps that the pulpy part of the fruit is more rewarding than the hard core. . . . It recalls the favourite dictum of the great liberal journalist C. P. Scott: "Facts are sacred, opinion is free.". . .

What is a historical fact? . . . According to the common-sense view, there are certain basic facts which are the same for all historians and which form, so to speak, the backbone of history—the fact, for example, that the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066. But this view calls for two observations. In the first place, it is not with facts like these that the historian is primarily concerned. It is no doubt important to know that the great battle was fought in 1066 and not in 1065 or 1067, and that it was fought at Hastings and not at Eastbourne or Brighton. The historian must not get these things wrong. But [to] praise a historian for his accuracy is like praising an architect for using well-seasoned timber or properly mixed concrete in his building. It is a necessary condition of his work, but not his essential function. It is precisely for matters of this kind that the historian is entitled to rely on what have been called the "auxiliary sciences" of history—archaeology, epigraphy, numismatics, chronology, and so forth. . . .

The second observation is that the necessity to establish these basic facts rests not on any quality in the facts themselves, but on an apriori decision of the historian. In spite of C. P. Scott's motto, every journalist knows today that the most effective way to influence opinion is by the selection and arrangement of the appropriate facts. It used to be said that facts speak for themselves. This is, of course, untrue. The facts speak only when the historian calls on them: it is he who decides to which facts to give the floor, and in what order or context. . . . The only reason why we are interested to know that the battle was fought at Hastings in 1066 is that historians regard it as a major historical event. . . . Professor Talcott Parsons once called [science] "a selective system of cognitive orientations to reality." It might perhaps have been put more simply. But history is, among other things, that. The historian is necessarily selective. The belief in a hard core of historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy, but one which it is very hard to eradicate.

Question 3

If the author of the passage were to write a book on the Battle of Hastings along the lines of his/her own reasoning, the focus of the historical account would be on:


The passage suggests that while establishing basic facts is necessary, the essential function of historians goes beyond this. It emphasizes the selective and interpretive nature of historical writing, where historians are expected to go deeper into understanding the context and motivations behind historical events.

Option A, which involves exploring the socio-political and economic factors that led to the Battle of Hastings, is in line with the idea of providing a nuanced interpretation. This option indicates a focus on understanding the underlying causes and influences that shaped the historical event, reflecting a more comprehensive and contextual approach to historical writing.

Option B: While timelines are important, the author suggests that the historian's essential function goes beyond establishing basic chronological facts.

Option C: The author acknowledges the importance of basic facts but argues that historians must go beyond mere fact-finding.

Option D: While the author acknowledges the use of auxiliary sciences, it also suggests that the historian's focus should go beyond relying solely on these sciences for basic facts, emphasizing the historian's selective and interpretive role in presenting historical events.

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