What is Negative Interpretative Criticism?

The third stage in the analytical operations after external and positive criticisms is negative interpretative criticism. Its main task is to ascertain the vital problem of element of truth contained in the document. The aim of historical construction is the pursuit of truth and it is this pursuit which is the main business of the criticism. all other criticism appear to be preliminary and secondary in comparison to this ultimate enquiry in which we are called upon to touch the very substance of the problem. Analysis and interpretation of criticism give us merely an idea of the inner working of the mind behind a document reveling these ideas. They merely help us to know how the author wish to represent them and not how he really saw them, much less how they really happened. These are three aspects that dissolve very keen consideration. The first is the way the author designs our understanding of the event or his own version for our information although what he had seen heard or known might be different from what he want us to know. Secondly what the author believed might be altogether different from what really happened, although he might have been sincere in saying what he honestly believed. Thirdly, what the author says and believes main exactly true in reality and hence the author is quite sincere and accurate in a statement. Thus, several possibilities exit make historical fact complicated.

Negative interpretative criticism is the major to ward off this danger of failing in to errors, and it has appeared as a practical necessity for the purpose of eliminating statements which are obviously false are erroneous. As in every science show in history the starting point must be a methodical doubt. All that has not been proved must be regarded as doubtful. The historian must distrust at first every statement of the author going to the possibilities of errors indicated above. We must not postpone doubt till it is force upon us by conflicting statements in documents. Therefore, each of which statement must be examined separately. Internal criticism leads us to two general rules. The first is that a scientific proof is not established by testimony. Secondly, criticism should not be perform in en-bloc. It must be analysed into its element to isolate and examine it separately. If a few incurrences are perceptible in Bana’s Harsha Charita we cannot condemn the whole work. Sometimes single statement may contain several ideas a few of which may be valid and others may not be so. These ideas must be separated and criticism must be applied to them individually. However, both criticism and analysis must be perform simultaneously and there should not be any gap in there sequence. Therefore, criticism comprise of an enormous number of operations.

The problem of higher criticism simplifies itself to this. We have to ascertain the mental operations of man who makes the statement. Criticism does not advance beyond and indirect and provisional solutions. Hence we have to examine the environment or external circumstances that might have affected the ideas of the author. Natural Instinct when 1 points a document is to judge its value by its form. We seek for ‘the accent of sincerity’ or ‘an impression of truth’. But this is an illusion and there is a no criteria for good faith or accuracy. Even the ambulance and precision of details do not give us guarantee for the accuracy of facts. Simply because it contains, details it need not necessarily be true. Therefore, the value of an author’s statement depends on the condition under which perform certain metal operations. We have to enquire whether the author perform those operations correctly or not.

The whole of criticism thus reduced itself to the drawing of and answering of two different sets of question – one for the purpose of bringing before our minds the general conditions affecting the composition of the document from which we may deduct general motives for this distrust or confidence and the other set of questions is for the purpose of realizing the special conditions of each statement from which special motives may be drawn for distrust or confidence.

What we have said above can be simplified. The whole negative interpretative criticism comprises only of two problems. One is the enquiry into the good faith of the author, and other is the inquiry into the accuracy of the author. By good faith we mean what the author really believed for he may not have been sincere. By accuracy we mean what he really knew, for he may have been mistaken. Historian will have to ask ‘Can I trust the message which this dress appears to be carrying? Is it really the terminal of the sequence of event which at first sight it appears to be? Is their behind is it a less obvious sequence? The answers to this question from the basis of negative interpretative criticism. External criticism tells you that the letter is from your friend as it appears his handwriting, signature, postmark, paper ink and style of his writing. Some external circumstances might have prevented him from coming. That is why all statement in the document should not be accepted as gospel truth. Sardar Pannikker rightly says that medieval chroniclers should not be taken as a trustworthy for true to the salt of their masters they might be singing a song in their praise.

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