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A historian must combine the rigour of the scientist with the imagination of the artist. To what extent, then, can a historian be confident about his or her conclusions?

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History is an account of what happened in the past. It provides an explanation of what happed in the past, so we can learn from our ancestors, about their successes and mistakes. What type of knowledge do we gain from this? Is it the objective knowledge of a scientist or the subjective knowledge of an artist? Perhaps it is a mixture of both scientific and artistic, or, in extension objective and subjective knowledge? But, then to what extent can one accept a historian's conclusions as the truth? First of all to define the terms so that we can see the differences. Although most people around us know what knowledge is , it is a very hard thing to define. Knowledge is often defined as expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education. It can be what is known in a certain field or in total; facts or information. Is this what knowledge really is? The best I can do is that knowledge is information gained from the sources of knowledge. The sources of knowledge are sense experience, testimony, reasoning, instincts, memory, introspect, intuition and emotion. There are also different types of knowledge; practical, theoretical and rational. ...read more.


Every country always wants to hide their mistakes or never to believe that they are wrong. Like art it can all depend on what the reader gets out of it. Scientific and Artistic are both strong forms of knowledge, in which the knower has a high degree of confidence about his conclusions, but wouldn't some aspects weaken each other when they are cross-bred like in history? Admittedly, all knowledge could be regarded as a combination of subjectivity and objectivity, since it needs to pass through our subjective minds to become knowledge. However, to let this limit the distinction would not be fruitful. The problem lies in the fact that history has to be the historian's choice, based on his or her interpretations. McMullin 3 Therefore, doubts can be risen as to whether the selection and interpretation process reflect the object of study and reality satisfactorily. Emotions, environment and preconceived ideas do effect a historians results. Furthermore, some historians argue that history is created the moment it happens. Primary documents are often the best form of historical records, for the person was there when it happened. Things such as diaries, letters, treaties and court decisions can be very useful when studying history. ...read more.


This does not mean that they can have no assurance at all, just that it can not be to the extent of a scientist or mathematician. Language can also effect history, for some important documents where written in only one language and the historian may be relying on a translation, which is just not the same. Some things are just unable to be translated and the true meaning may be lost. A historian would have to be fluent ion many languages in order to be able to use all primary documents and come to the best possible conclusions. In conclusion, the task facing a historian is a very difficult one. To say that a historian can never be confident about his or her results in reducing their work to little more that guesses. This is an exaggeration. We do need their work and we can learn a lot from it if we are open-minded and never accept the facts at face value. I completely agree with the statement " A historian must combine the rigour of the scientist with the imagination of the artist." TOK ESSAY #4 " A historian must combine the rigour of the scientist with the imagination of the artist." To what extent, then, can a historian be confident about his or her conclusions? Name : Chantelle McMullin Date: June 19th/08 Word count: 1291 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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