Quentin Skinnerin vastaus kysymykseen, mihin historiantutkimusta oikeastaan tarvitaan:
"As I have elsewhere argued, one of the uses of the past arises from the fact that we are prone to fall under the spell of our own intellectual heritage. As we analyze and reflect on our normative concepts, it is easy to become bewitched into believing that the ways of thinking about them bequeathed to us by the mainstream of our intellectual traditions must be the ways of thinking about them. Given this situation, one of the contributions that historians can make is to offer us a kind of exorcism. If we approach the past with a willingness to listen, with a commitment to trying to see things in their way, we can hope to prevent ourselves from becoming too easily bewitched. An understanding of the past can help us to appreciate how far the values embodied in our present way of life, and our present ways of thinking about those values, reflect a series of choices made at different times between different possible worlds. This awareness can help us to liberate us from the grip of any one hegemonal account of those values and how they should be interpreted and understood. Equipped with a broader sense of possibility, we can stand back from the intellectual commintments we have inherited and ask ourselves in a new spirit of enquiry what we should think of them."
- Quentin Skinner: Visions of Politics (2002).