TOK2 History
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TOK2 History



A summary of knowledge issues in history

A summary of knowledge issues in history



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TOK2 History TOK2 History Presentation Transcript

  • Theory of Knowledge Areas of Knowledge HISTORY
    • “ All history is then the history of thought.” R.G. Collingwood
    • “ Even God cannot change the past.” Agathon
    • The aims of understanding history as an area of knowledge:
    • Distinction between history and historiography
    • Role of bias and selection in historical process
    • Difficulties in historical causation
    • Historical judgments are subject to standard criteria of plausibility (consistency, coherence, etc.)
    • The role of history with respect to other disciplines (areas of knowledge)
    • The problems of knowing the past:
      • Information can be incomplete.
      • It can be inaccurate.
      • It can be wrong.
      • It may be impossible to know.
    • The facts of history:
    • Collecting facts “hard core”
    • Analyzing them
    • The wishes and interests of the historian decide what is worth knowing.
    • The need to sort and sift
    • The theories of the historians determine how the categorization takes place; therefore, they are no longer hard core facts.
    • For example: Numbered red triangle, green circle, yellow square
  • How do we determine the reliability of our sources?
  • A biased historian is like a scientist “fixing the data” in his experiment so that it lends evidence to his hypothesis.
    • We choose how to describe events and what is important depending on
    • 1. what information is available
    • 2. our paradigms
  • What will our own age be called in the future?
    • Can it be a name we can predict?
  • The study of history is problematic.
    • If state of mind is significant, then some factors are beyond our reach.
    • Is history about indviduals or about social forces?
    • History explains group r/t individual behavior; yet some individuals override the group.
    • Yet no single leader could stop the advancement of information technology
  • What are considered valid sources of history?
    • A personal diary?
    • A government document?
    • Bank accounts?
    • Other?
  • Causationism in history
    • History is about finding causes and effects.
    • How many?
    • How to prioritize?
    • Hierarchy of causes?
    • How far back/forward do we look for causes and effects before reaching absurdity? (Cleopatra’s nose)
  • The inevitability of history?
    • Historical determinism
    • Is history really cyclical?
    • Does history depend on
        • Race?
        • Climate?
        • Class struggle?
        • Psychology of the times?
        • Progress?
        • Pure chance?
  • Select the paradigm
    • Then select the data.
    • Get data, then change the paradigm if necessary.
  • History aims for objectivity.
    • History is a human endeavor.
    • How do we select the right version?
    • Difficulty in obtaining certainty
    • Historian seeks convergence of evidence and hopes that explanations are reasonable and consistent with the evidence.
    • Is a historian more like a painter or a photographer?
  • Food for Thought
    • The study of history can be justified on the grounds that
    • it contributes to our sense of identity
    • it is a defense against propaganda
    • it enriches our understanding of human nature
  • Although history is based on primary sources:
    • Even primary sources are a selective interpretation of events.
    • They cannot always be taken at face value.
  • Since history deals with complex situations:
    • Historical events rarely have a single cause but are usually the result of a combination of factors.
  • Two theories of history:
    • The Great Person Theory (history is determined by great individuals)
    • Economic Determinism (history is determined by economic factors)
  • Revisionists rewrite history.
    • Examples?
    • ___________________
    • ___________________
    • ___________________
    • ___________________
    • ___________________
    • ___________________
    • ___________________
    • Perception : how reliable is eyewitness testimony as a primary source?
    • Reason : What common fallacies arise in studying history?
    • Emotion : What role should empathy play in a historian’s work?
    • Language : Can historical events be described in truly neutral language?