Teodoro A

Teodoro A. Agoncillo was one of the renowned Filipino historians during the post-war period garnering the title as National Scientist in 1985. He became a professor at the University of the Philippines in 1958 and chaired the Department of History from 1963 to 1969. He received numerous honors and awards and became one of the “Most Influential 20” in the 20th century. (Vonjobi, 2012)
The article begins by stating the significance of imagination in writing history. The writer disapproved to Shaw’s argument that “imagination in history is something to be deplored since history deals primarily and supremely with facts”. For Agoncillo, history is not just a compilation of facts or the sequence of historical events but it is more than that. The pieces of evidence such as the documents will only serve as the bones but we need to creatively include the flesh and blood through historical imagination. Agoncillo also made clear about the distinction between historical and literary imagination. Literary imagination has a wider imagination and freedom in terms of narrating wherein its validity is not questioned at all. On the other hand, historical imagination has limited freedom in a sense that the historian uses the collection of pieces of evidence, studies it thoroughly so that he will be able to immerse himself into the past events and be able to narrate it like he experienced it firsthand.
Agoncillo highlighted the aspects of historical imagination which are the following: interpretation, imaginative understanding, interpolation, the recreation of atmosphere or setting, and constancy/ invariability. Interpretation is used as a tool in historical imagination. It is impossible to say that 2 or more historians will arrive at the same interpretations on the same set of facts. It varies due to their distinct personality, ideology, and backgrounds which highly affects as to how they write history. Imaginative Understanding is another aspect in which imagination does not equate to a fantasy kind of imagination but it is anchored to basic understanding, common experiences, and basic knowledge about basic things in real life. Interpolation is inserting a narration, through historical imagination, between gaps which are not found on shreds of evidence. Basically, historians insert factual or common experiences that correspond to the season, kind of environment, or ways of living, etc. That is why there’s a need to research thoroughly the evidence and the time of the event so that historians will be able to imagine the atmosphere and the color creating a more effective history. In relation to this is another aspect of historical imagination. While most historians already have prior knowledge of a scene in a historical setting, those who have not must be inhibited in the recreation of the atmosphere or setting. Lastly, constancy/ invariability are also useful as historians can conclude that past events are correlated with constant experiences.
Above all, in this article, Agoncillo is asserting that history is more than just a compilation of facts and evidence of the past events; it is written with a creative historical imagination of the historians. According to him, students should not just be overfed with facts but teach them to gather facts, verify them, and “string them together in an artistic whole”, thus students’ artistic sense is being developed. In that sense, Agoncillo asserted in the last part of the article that history is part of humanities and not of science. There have been a lot of arguments as to which discipline does history belong to. In my own viewpoint, I agree to Agoncillo’s argument that history is part of humanity. According to DifferenceBetween.net, humanities deal with history and modern languages which constitutes history. It is a mixture of facts and art in which historians based their narration on valid documents and connect these past events through historical imagination. If history was part of science, the past should be able to speak for itself without narration and imagination of historians. Thus, it is merely just a collection of past events. That is why history is part of humanities.