I have this question which states "How does the story of Columbus illustrate that the purpose of history is ideological?" Unfortunately, I am having trouble understanding what exactly the question is trying to ask. Can someone elaborate for me?
Max Weber has a great quote on culture:
'Culture' is a finite segment of the meaningless infinity of the world process, a segment on which human beings confer meaning and significance.
Well, the same goes for the history. There are an infinity of possible facts that a historian could study, a teacher teach, or a politician or activist mention in a speech. Ideology helps us decide which segment of that meaningless infinity of the world process we will confer significance upon and call "history."
The word history is used to describe both past events themselves, and the study and recording of past events. Those who study history inevitably put it into a contemporary, ideological context.
Say you are writing a history of the second world war. When did it start? When Japan invaded China? When Germany invaded Poland? When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor? You have to make a choice, and that is ideological.
Regarding Columbus, consider these questions:
- What reason is given for the voyage?
- What did he find?
- Why is his voyage prominent in the history books, and not the earlier Viking voyages?
Edit/Postscriptum: Did Columbus discover America? Or did he recontact it? What do the history books say, and what does the choice of words say about the viewpoint of the speaker?