TOK2 History


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A summary of knowledge issues in history

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TOK2 History

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