"The mystical memory of a blessedness without history haunts man from the moment he becomes aware of his situation in the cosmos." Mircea Eliade.
"The word 'history' stands written on the countenance of nature in the characters of transience." Walter Benjamin (Origins, p. 177)(see ruin )
Aristotle described poetry by opposing it to history. This distinction was taken up by in the Nineteenth century, when historical sources were distinguised from legendary, poetical, or mythical sources. August Wilhelm Schlegel criticized the Grimm brothers for not providing a secure philological foundation for their treatment of literary records.
"All historical truth involves the simple question of whether or not something actually happened; whether it happened in the way it is told or in some other way." (A.W. Schlegel, quoted in Ernst Cassirer, The Problem of Knowledge, p 228.)
For Otto Ranke, historical truth was possible only if the historian put aside every personal parti pris , any advocacy of definitely political, national, or even religious programs. Ranke's great rallying cry zur Sachen selbst, was a call to eliminate self in favor of letting the object alone reveal itself.
Recent literary criticism of historical writing, by drawing attention to history as narrative, has reintroduced the issues of poetry and literature into history as writing.
Scholars who have looked at writing as " technology of the intellect" stress the way in which writing arrests the flow of oral conversation so that one can compare side by side utterances that have been made at different times and at different places. (see Jack Goody, The Domestication of the Savage Mind, pp 11-14.) "In the most literal sense the distinction between mythos and historia comes into being at the time when alphabetic writing encouraged mankind to set one account of the universe or the pantheon beside another and hence perceive the contradictions that lie between them." (p.14).
Critics of the hegemony of writing see it primarily as an instrument of power. " In modern western culture the practice of writing is a myth which gives symbolic articulation to the Occidental ambition to compose its history, and thus to compose history itself." -- Michel de Certeau. "History is one with the triumph of States." (Deleuze and Guattari, p.394) Reason, the political powers that be, prefer order rather than disorder, time rather than space, history rather than multiplicities." (Michel Serres) The event or occurrence has always been a problem to those historians who wished to submerge it in the grand sweep of history. Yet history is made by events.
In The Culture of Time and Space, Stephen Kern described interest in the personal past by philosophers like Henri Bergson and William James, and later Edmund Husserl, as well as writers like Nietzche, Ibsen, Freud, Bergson, Gide, Proust, Joyce, and the Futurists. "The overbearing deterministic formal systems of nineteenth-century historicism produced broad, general laws of history, whereas these thinkers wanted to understand the unique responses of individuals to particular circumstances." (Kern, p.63)
Organisms have a history, both individually and collectively, and a complete understanding of an organism cannot be separated from its history. "In order to fully understand organisms it is just as necessary to regard them as members in a process of historical development as it is to treat them as physico-chemical systems and organic unities." (von Bertalanffy, p. 15)
"The modern theory of evolution, like all historical theories, is explanatory rather than predictive.... Evolution, like history, is not like coin tossing or a game of cards. It has another essential characteristic: irreversibility. All that will be is the descendent of what is, not from what might have been. Men are the children of reality, not of hypothetical situations.." (S.E. Luria Life: the Unfinished Experiment.)