Internal Criticism

Internal Criticism

              Internal criticism is applied to check the credibility of the document whether the contents given in it are believable or not. It is because; many writers will not have adequate knowledge of the given situation. Some will write on the situation, with motivation or prejudice. Sometime they will not reveal the truth for fear of consequences. During the period of emergency many praised Indira Gandhi out of fear. Some foreign writers praised without knowing the culture, that the people were so rich, that they throw their food after eating. Other foreigners write to please the people. In fact various reasons like ignorance, preconceived notion, duplicity, cultural difference contributed error while writing. Hence the historian has to scrutinize carefully the records that appear even as authentic. Internal criticism involves a scientific examination of the relevance of the data. Correction of errors rejection of unwanted information is important.

Two Kinds of Internal Criticism

          Internal criticism are of 2 kinds – negative and positive. Negative criticism is to examine that if he was in a position to tell the truth. Positive criticism is to find out whether he has said the truth.

Circumstances Preventing to Tell the Truth:

  1. By tendency all are not of the habit of telling the truth.
  2. Lack of competence to ascertain the truth.
  3. Ability to reach out the truth, which depends on space and time.
  4. It is related to the degree of attention and training.
  5. At times important Developments are ignored.
  6. The witness of the parties may be the interest parties of the author.
  7. To gain favour from leaders.

                      The bias in favor of a development is called ‘Studium’ and that against is called ‘Odium’. Domestic, racial, social institutions contribute to this kind of favor or against. The version of the documents is sometimes partly or fully not credible. When the presentation is marked by exaggerated accounts, colorful languages, omissions and contributions. When the credibility of a version is in doubt, it can be quoted as the words of a particular reporter or author. In case of secondary sources, the historian is to examine whether the primary sources are accurately utilised.

Solution by the Historian Himself

The historian should ask questions to himself. He should examine that the context is used in the literal meaning or real meaning. (Eg: The Madras bridge is named as Hamilton’s bridge, but the local people call it as Ampatton bridge and it was translated as barber’s bridge. Thus Hamilton was made a barber. The Malabar ‘Ezhilmalai’ is a beautiful hill. In Tamil, it was called as ‘Elimalai’ or ‘rat hill’. ‘Chinna Veedu’ in Tamil, meaning a ‘small house’ as well as ‘second house’ where the secondary wife is kept.

The historian need to find if there are implied meaning in a letter or document. Eg: Parents while writing letters to their daughters in the convent write as “emerge into a good catholic” as they knew that the sisters would open the private letters, address to the students.

Some press for fear of being censored also write like this with implied meaning; These type of words and writing can be detected only by specialist, aids of books and wider knowledge.

The historian is to examine whether the witness or reporter was in a position to give an accurate picture due to defects in observational powers, the witness may not give an authentic statement. Because of addition of facts, distance from the scene of activity, a reporter may go wrong.

For want of social adjustability one may give distorted version.

The American may not understand the Tamil culture and habits. But, a Tamil can.

The Christian may not understand or appreciate Hindu rites which a Hindu can.

When such irregularities are found in a document, the researcher should understand from the angle which the reporter saw it, and has come to a conclusion or a judgment. The historian need to understand, if the author wrote or recorded about the event immediately after he saw that or written at a later period. If written at a later period, there are chances for forgetting, confusions or himself being guided by other considerations.

An account written on the spot can be treated as more authentic than that of the later period.

The historian needs to explore, if the person has written on account of fear, hope, hatred or motivation.

He can write to gain popularity due to various reasons.

Hence, criticism has to be applied for collecting rights evidences.