Title 3 – TOK Essay May 2017 KQ 2 : To what extent is it possible to know and understand the historical events to form judgements?


Within the ambit of “ philosophy of history “ – about knowing and describing the past – the emphasis , the wordings and the perspective are decisive and determining in answering : Can we know the past? What kind of things can we know and what kind of things are beyond knowledge ?How can we tell the differrence between accurate descriptions of the past and the inaccurate descriptions. What distinguishes a justified interpretation from speculation or invention. How do we know we say happened , really happened?

There is a gap between the information available and what needs to be known . The information and evidence from the textual and material remains are not enough to reveal the underlying Reason , Intuition or the Emotion and Claims to know about historical events and their developments raise serious questions of accuracy. As collector and listor of facts , the historian prepares the structure of the description and interpretation of the historical events by using the small and scattered pieces of evidence. The historical events and people are from different period and culture , so understanding them is more difficult than understanding our neighbours and compatriots.

Even though the objectivity is essential and very crucial but subjectivity is still unavoidable since we have to describe the past in ways that make sense to us and on our own terms. And this inerasable subjectivity is not merely an epistemic issue but a moral issue as well – Is it an intellectual colonialism? To force our ideas and values on the description of people in the past.