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Can we really tell history "as it was"? posted 27 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history "as it was"? by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

Just thought I'd ask this question to see the response generated. Despite being part of the "apostolic succession" from Leopold Ranke, the founder of the "scientific" historicist school (Ranke to Meinecke to Rothfels to my grad advisor, Arthur Haas, to myself), I just can't believe in wie es eigentlich gewesen ist.

So many interpretations that we today can make of the past. But beyond that, there are some serious questions as to how much we can ever understand the mentalité of those even as recent as a hundred or two hundred years.

Anyways, thought I'd just leave this incomplete so others can question and give their own declarations of understanding. view post


Can we really tell history "as it was"? posted 28 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history "as it was"? by Grantaire, Moderator

No, we cannot. Even today, it is very difficult to understand the mentality and motivations of someone else- even though you know the times they are living in and thus influence them. To me, that says that we can't truly understand history. History is driven by people, and when we can't really understand them and their motivations, we can't really understand history. view post


Can we really tell history "as it was"? posted 29 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history "as it was"? by Taliesin, Peralogue

Interesting.... Seems to me that we can never have a literal history of exactly what happened. For any one event, each person's account would vary to one degree or another, based on their own biases and what seems to be important to them. Beyond that, history is written by historians, whose objectivity must always be questioned to some extent.

But, even if we could videotape or otherwise document all the significant events that occurred in the world, there's more to it than just seeing what actually happened, and there's no way to get inside the minds of the individuals making history and see what their actual motivations were, which will likely be different from what they say they were.

I think it's believeable to say that we can achieve a good summarization of the events that make up history, but not to expect to understand what it was like for people to actually experience any of these events. Not that there's anything wrong in trying, so long as we recognize that these attempts are inevitably colored by our own perception of our world, and by our perception of what their world was like.

And, that's enough rambling about things I don't really know enough about <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 29 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Grantaire, Moderator

Agreed Taliesin. It's like the very idea of perception, our senses corrupt and distort the *true* world around us. So trying to analyze history brings about the same thing. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 30 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by saintjon, Auditor

Well on the one hand isn't your perception one shade of "what it was like to be there?"

I say no to the topic question. Even if you had all the facts down pat, the people writing the history would never be privy to everything going on with the people in power making the plays. I mean, you could be the spouse of some world leader and now know EVERYTHING about why they act the way they do, or in some cases the REAL reason a decision was made.

Just think about how many different interpretations there are of fictional works. Also you have to take into account that history is written by the winners. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 30 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

The problem with this argument is that History is written by the victors so speaking as one who looks back at history all that we know is tainted. For example would Diana Princess of Wales be considered a deity if footage of her funeral were discovered in 1000 years with no reference to it on file?

That is a question perhaps best argued by philosophers more adept at the subject than me but hopefully it raises and interesting point. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 31 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

Or perhaps argued (as I and others have done when undergoing training) by cultural historians.

Needless to say, this was a loaded question I asked above. As a self-described heretical historicist, I look at history as being not a monolithic entity that many have envisioned it being over the years, but as a fragmented sets of narratives and discourses that people have had with themselves and their understandings of what's transpired before them. In such a view, the "victors" can only present but one compelling image of an isolated past event/series of events, not anything approaching true historia, which are the meaningful stories that we tell to translate and to transfer our understandings to our friends, families, and later descendents.

The study of historical events and recordings is important, however, for whatever messages we can decode (or misread) of the past, because of the value that we place on transferring as much of our values as possible to those who follow after us. But unlike historicists before me (and I was trained in what my grad advisor joked was the Apostolic Succession of historicists from Leopold Ranke through Friedrich Meineicke down to my advisor and then myself), I reject the notion of there being a "Truth" that can be found about the past. Instead, I see there being multiple truth-values that hold weight and are valid for the inspirations they inspire in people, regardless of how "true" the events ever were.

But in that, I'm not breaking any new ground. Instead, I'd argue that I'm just merely bringing history back to historia, or to the sets of Stories that we tell to translate and transfer our cultural values to our progeny. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 17 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Warrior-Poet, Moderator

No we cannot accept history as it is written all the fun is in specualting about history. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 20 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Sokar, Auditor

My father once told my mother: &quot;We do not write history, we undergo it!&quot; (long story to why he said this) By accepting this, the perception of man in and of history is irrelevant, and so is the relation of truth in history. Morality, or mentality as you call it, has little to do with time, they do not evolve, in the sense as becoming higher of value, they merely change in an insignificant manner into either direction.
From this, I would say that history is nothing more than life itself. Through looking into history, one persumes so much has been done and said, that his being is incompareble. Yet, one forgets that all things in history are not written by those actors, merely interpereted by the historian as a groundbreaking action.

To make it simpler, here is Nietzsche: &quot;There are no facts, only interpretations!&quot;

Aldorian -&gt; Could you maybe elaborate on your &quot;theory&quot; of how history should be? view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 21 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Zarathinius, Auditor

I agree with the statements about perception and interpretation; People can only interpret things from a single perspective (their own). Since history has to be interpreted from the narratives of others, the actual memory of what happened is never fully transmitted. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 17 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by zap21, Commoner

No, it's almost impossible to tell history how it was because it is always being distorted by politics. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 18 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Curethan, Didact

Official histories are at least as flawed as current events reporting (in any medium). Therefore it's all a tissue of lies.

It is ironic that if you want an account that is honest, literal and correct, you should read a fictional story like PON. Then you, and everyone else who has subjectively experienced the recounted events can be sure they got &quot;the truth&quot;. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 24 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Primal, Peralogue

I think we can approach an understanding of the mentality of the past by looking at the mentality of now. The world is not in the same stages of development. Parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa still have herding, fishing, individual-agriculture that make up the majority of livelihood, not like the mass productions of more tech-advanced civilizations. Also, there are the factors of religion, culture, war, etc, needs, and wants.

It's true that history is fragmented narratives. But it one aspect, it comes together to become a single entity of history. My analogy is: what is a civilization? It is composed of individuals, who in one aspect, have come together to form a single entity. History can be more than one aspect.

Also, history, for me, is a leap of faith. It seems we can never have completely conclusive knowledge, facts, understanding, or evidence. Everything we learn on history are from relics, artifacts, writings, pictures, memories, and other media, all told from countless perspectives. I don't really understanding how and what we choose to believe, but we choose to believe. (goddamn Aldarion; I'll suppose I'll try to formulate around the &quot;I don't know&quot;). What we choose to believe can be a synthesis of different things--the need to rationalize, the need to make conformity and sensibility for psychological purposes, coherency, etc. What we choose to believe can also be based on randomness, irrationality, whim. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 24 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by MrJims, Commoner

No, we cannot tell history the way it was.

Reasons. Firstly, the word. Written or spoken can never truly to justice to an event, emotion or experience. Secondly, history holds many aspects. An individual, the planet, a civilization, etc. As other's have mentioned here a history must be recorded by historian or someone filling that role. How much did they see? How were they just told by others and how trustworthy are those others, or our historian for that matter. From what disposition is our historian writing, what are his/her beliefs, experiences, prejudices and how are they affecting his/her account.
The truth, I think, is you can never know reality.(The realm of events). What we call reality is really our accumulated sensory input. The observer is not outside the obervation therefore the obersvation is tainted. This being said, Histories should still be written. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 25 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Sokar, Auditor

Primal -&gt; I am not really sure where you are going with this:

I think we can approach an understanding of the mentality of the past by looking at the mentality of now. The world is not in the same stages of development. Parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa still have herding, fishing, individual-agriculture that make up the majority of livelihood, not like the mass productions of more tech-advanced civilizations. Also, there are the factors of religion, culture, war, etc, needs, and wants.

How does this support the truth and history as being separate? Are you meaning to say that what there is, is the historical evidence for &quot;progress&quot; in socio-economic sense? Or are you simply illustrating the defferent opinions on how history is perceived, due to socio-economic differences? And of course the connection to truth of these.. The reason I ask, is because I don't agree.. I think... view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 25 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by gierra, Sorcerer-of-Rank

i believe primal was responding to grantaires post about how we cannot understand history completely because we could never understand the mentality that those people in the past would have had. he's basically saying that we, in a such a highly evolved and technical society we couldn't, but in many parts of the world there really hasn;t been much change throughout centuries. there are people who still build a shack for their family and grow crops and keep livestock, in the very same way that they would have 1000 years ago. looking at these people today would make it much easier to understand how people back then would have been. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 25 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Primal, Peralogue

Sokar, gierra pretty much summed up my intent. It was partially a response to Grantaire, but also a response to Alderion's

So many interpretations that we today can make of the past. But beyond that, there are some serious questions as to how much we can ever understand the mentalité of those even as recent as a hundred or two hundred years.

Anyways, thought I'd just leave this incomplete so others can question and give their own declarations of understanding.



Truth and history being separate...I wasn't specifically addressing that. view post


Can we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? posted 26 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionCan we really tell history &quot;as it was&quot;? by Sokar, Auditor

I should reread posts then, I suppose.. The descussion was telling history is it was, so getting into mentality wasn't really the first thing I thought of.

Though on this account I still wouldn't agree with that statement completely. I agree, that by looking at present we can actually (partially)understand the past. But in doing so, there is no need to see the difference between technological usage. The needs and wants have remained the same. One does not want that which he does not know exists. With this, I mean that our society, that of past and the less developed world, still primarily have the same drive for wants and needs.
In this sense, the mentality has not changed, all the factors you name are still existing in our society, they seem more remote maybe, but I doubt they didn't seem so in the past.

What I am saying here is that mentality is only evident in things that do not affect one's socio-economic needs. In other words, mentality is another psycological invention to analyse (abnormal) human behaviour in present day society, yet forgetting that all behaviour is simply human. What could be part of mentality is the way of tought, the difference in understanding and perceiving things throughout time, but the correct term for that would be episteme. But here I would agree with Alderion as in how far there will be an understanding. view post


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