Historians, historical research, self-discovery


The eminent Russian humanist and novelist Leo Tolstoy once quipped, "Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them." Although Tolstoy intended this to be a criticism of contemporary historical trends, his thought reveals an important truth about the value of historical studies: historians often investigate questions that others never think to explore and thus provide new and unique perspectives on past human experience. Does the fact that the majority deigns not to entertain these questions decrease their significance? On the contrary, I believe that this is precisely what gives historical inquiry its value: it provides a valuable impetus for self-reflection and enlightenment. When historians confront the experiences of the past, they are compelled to question their assumed knowledge, values, and prejudices. It allows them to reevaluate their own existence based on humanity's past activities. The goal of historical research and, consequently, the objective for Brigham Young University's student history journal is to facilitate this process of self-discovery.