This introductory chapter explains the significance of documentary sources to the historian's craft, which leads to a commitment to do “history the old-fashioned way”—a positivist methodology to research and scholarship. This is an inductive process in which the scholar seeks out facts on the subject of interest and, through observation and analysis of an extensive body of data, is able to discern certain patterns. Whereas deductive reasoning starts with a proposition and seeks to test it through observation and data, inductive reasoning begins with observation and moves toward a proposition. The chapter further discusses the definition of positivism as it applies to humanistic studies, emphasizing the problems in such an approach while simultaneously vindicating its validity and relevance.
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