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2.20 AOK: History
Transcript of 2.20 AOK: History
Language and Concepts
Links to Personal Knowledge
Kolakowski’s ‘law of the infinite cornucopia’, which states that an infinite number of explanations can be found for any given event.
"It often seems to me as if history is like a child’s box of letters, with which we can spell any word we please. We have only to pick out such letters as we want, arrange them as we like, and say nothing about those which do not suit our purpose".
Froude in Evans, 1997
Where do historians look for knowledge?
history from above- sources pertaining to prominent influential individuals
History from below- sources pertaining to ordinary people, or grand structural forces
History from the outside- sources geared to empirically verifiable events
History from the inside- sources that give some insight into states of mind of historical figures
British historian, Arnold Toynbee,
20 years, published 12 volume,
The Study of History
"...history could be organized in the terms of the rise and fall of civilizations."
"History can provide maps geared to the pragmatic aims of policy and served up to citizens in ways that are intended to bolster a sense of identity, pride, and belonging to a particular state or other community."
He who controls the present controls the past.”
“He who controls the past controls the future.
WHAT limitations exist in determining knowledge in History?
How do we organize knowledge in History?
Is the territory of history, the past, the human past or the recorded human past? On what basis
would you justify your answer?
that the future can be foretold, to a high degree of accuracy, through the manipulation of data concerning the past and present trends of a wide range of physical and psychological phenomena.
Two possible applications of historical knowledge might be its use in
(a) generating predictions and
(b) giving us the insights necessary to make transformative interventions in the present or future.
Which of these goals might be more realistic?
A historical fact is something that happened in history and can be verified as such through the traces history has left behind. Whether or not the historian has actually carried out the act of verification is irrelevant to its factuality. [...] Where theory and interpretation come in is where facts are converted into evidence [...] The historian formulates a thesis, goes looking for evidence and discovers facts.
Facts, evidence, and theory
-Sir Richard Evans
• Recruiting some objective facts as evidence in support of your conclusion.
• Producing facts by selecting statements and arriving at your conclusion from them.
• Arriving at your conclusion from objective facts in an inductive and balanced fashion.
Cause and Effect
a Multiple causes as sufficient conditions:
each cause will bring about the effect independently
b Remote and proximate causes:
a chain in which each effect becomes the next cause
c Simple cause:
one cause for one effect
d Multiple causes as necessary conditions:
all causes are needed together to bring about the effect
e Multiple effects:
one cause for several effects
Progress, decline, cycles
WHAT TERMS OR CONCEPTS ARE REPRESENTED IN THESE GRAPHS
WHAT PATH DOES THE HISTORIAN FOLLOW?
Which path produces the most accurate knowledge? Why?
Hence the study of history becomes the study of historians and the texts they produce, and the only tools worth employing are those literary approaches that can analyse texts.
Authors of history, through language of their choosing, shape history.
• Economics: demand, scarcity, trade
• Geography: land relief, migration, climate
• Biology: pathogens, putrefaction, immunity
• Corruption: nepotism, greed, leadership
• Colonialism: exploitation, dependence, paternalism
Looking at History through different lenses,
accounts written afterward
Eye Witness accounts
Multiple Sources = Accuracy?
• Origins – Who wrote it? Where did it come from and when?
• Purposes – What does it mean in its historical context?
• Value – Bearing in mind its origins and purpose, to what extent is it a worthwhile source?
• Limitations – What is there about its origins and purpose that limits its value?
OPVL Source Evaluation
Real versus Real
History as comparison:
Russia 1917, China 1920s, Spain 1930s, Nigeria 1960s
History as comparison:
Real vs Imaginary
What if the Japanese had not attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941?
What if Napoleon had triumphed in Russia in 1812?
History as (mainly) geography and ecology
Empirical treatment of sources; causal explanations for the Spanish conquest of the Incas in Peru, for instance, that relate to continental topography, gradations in climate, disease epidemiology, and technological developments.
of Russian–American scholar Peter Turchin,
"We need a historical social science, because processes that operate over long timescales can affect the health of societies. It is time for history to become analytical, and even a predictive, science. "
Of history as becoming a genuine human science rests on the collection and input of a huge mass of information about people and societies which is either already quantitative or is converted into this type.
What role do the ways of knowing play in the pursuit of knowledge in History?
What key moments in history influenced the development of knowledge in History?
History must play a part in the development of our personal identities and values, as well as shedding light on the shared human condition...history can contribute to not only knowing ourselves, but in a sense ‘creating ourselves’.
What role has shared knowledge in History played in the development of ethics?
19th century, German Leopold vod Ranke
creates a shift towards empirical investigation
History is separated from literature and philosophy
through careful evaluation of source text
tried to remove prejudice of the present and insist on the study of the past as it actually was for those living at the time.
Increase in availability of source material
fragmentation and specialism
adjusts Ranke's view, to account for new evidence
Developments in the Natural sciences
Thucydides and Herodotus
to provide description of the influence of the divine, and the defeat of evil by the forces of good.
THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
Objective: develop an awareness of how individuals and communities construct knowledge and how this is critically examined