Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/422

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By Professor WM. E. DODD,


DURING the last ten years a fierce war of words has been waged in Germany concerning the nature and scope of history. It is known as the ‘Kampf um die Kulturgeschichte’ and almost every historical scholar in the Empire has been forced to take either the one side or the other. This ‘Kampf’ which seems to mean so much for history and its writing began in 1893 with the appearance of the first volume of ‘Deutsche Geschichte’ by Karl Lamprecht, professor of history in the University of Leipzig. Leipzig and Berlin have been the centers of the opposing forces, and seldom has a learned controversy been conducted with so much animus. The question at issue is: Is history a science or an art? Lamprecht boldly asserts that it is a science, while his opponents maintain that it is and must always remain an art. The adherents of Lamprecht have been dubbed ‘Lamprechtianer,’ while the enemies of the new movement call themselves ‘Jungrankianer.’ It will thus be seen that the name and fame of the great Ranke have been enlisted on the conservative side of the dispute.

American scholars have troubled themselves but little about a contest both sides of which are supported by so much of truth. In fact little has been said or written in this country about Lamprecht or Delbrück, the leading champion of the Ranke school. Only one article and one review have come to the attention of the writer; the article appeared in the American Historical Review, of April, 1898, the review in the same publication of July, 1903. Yet the word ‘Kulturgeschichte’—Lamprecht's slogan—is not unfamiliar to most of us, and quite often in addresses and papers on history and its teaching the principles laid down in the works of the Leipzig professor are given no little prominence. In some quarters, however, the unconscious Ranke influence has found expression in slurs on the claims of ‘Kulturgeschichte’—history as a science, as Lamprecht insists. Still it is safe to say that the ideas advanced by the new school of German historians find a more general acceptance in our country than in any other, and this without our knowing just how it comes about. The cause of it is, perhaps, the reasonableness of the tenets of the Lamprecht school, the practical cast of mind of American scholars and our comparative freedom from the trammels of tradition and class prejudice.