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By Barbara J. Shapiro

Barbara J. Shapiro strains the fantastic genesis of the "fact," a latest idea that, she convincingly demonstrates, originated now not in ordinary technological know-how yet in criminal discourse. She follows the concept's evolution and diffusion throughout various disciplines in early smooth England, analyzing how the rising "culture of truth" formed the epistemological assumptions of every highbrow company.

Drawing on an magnificent breadth of analysis, Shapiro probes the fact's altering id from an alleged human motion to a confirmed typical or human occurring. The the most important first step during this transition happened within the 16th century whilst English universal legislations tested a definition of truth which depended on eyewitnesses and testimony. the concept that widened to hide typical in addition to human occasions because of advancements in information reportage and shuttle writing. simply then, Shapiro discovers, did medical philosophy undertake the class "fact." With Francis Bacon advocating extra stringent standards, the witness grew to become a necessary part in medical remark and experimentation. Shapiro additionally recounts how England's preoccupation with the very fact motivated historiography, faith, and literature--which observed the production of a fact-oriented fictional style, the unconventional.

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Additional resources for A Culture of Fact: England, 1550-1720

Sample text

Absence of " ier wit t e Idea of' 1 11 of a past reality. a w 10 y accurate portrayal SOl; 01 r, ! h . or hom that of the poet, the . ancel an t en truthf I I . nons from those of the P' ti d. ne impartial produc. , ,II' Isan a vocate. Ther " -. " e \\<1S a rhetOrIC of antirhetOrIc. 1 ' ' ar y-c riven Account or tl (. h "I 'l ie Grtnot of PO/JPry. 1'itse f as a" k d . rhetoric. Walter Charleton : i c h ", ,na e narrative" unbiased by . r d I I" tmguished from plea I' " s e t iat nstory could be dis, r lllg causes or from oane , ,", : .

I 't smg'lne JU ume . b . tter of fact we put ourselves " ,, -hen he argued, ut In nla ' , ,. , ,. jund1cal analogue w " bti ifthe evidence prove fall", the VVn, di J rie not dou )tmg, I le" , . ,. ' . d h Records without susprcron of n11posnesses of faith unques(J(Hl~dan t. e , , I fi d for the Plain riffe or Deo I ut thev wiIJ doe their consCience anr n Clue. ) . ' . " "1'l7 fendent, as the cause appeals. . , 1 " str 1U Propensities In a , , . , . th: t there were also such thmgs Side ". ther historian wrote la.

In history as in law, not all "facts"-the lawyer would speak of "alleged facts"-were to be treated as true. Those without appropriate or sufficient proof would remain dubious and might even be rejected as false facts. Fact had not yet come to be synonymous with truth, though the distinction between "fact" and "fiction" and repeated emphasis on historical truth telling helped accelerate the process. The truth of the historian, no more than that of the lawyer, was not metaphysical or mathematical in character but instead implied reasonable belief in a variety of past acts.

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