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The Extent Of Historical Revisionism Essay

1887 words - 8 pages

“ Knowledge is justified true belief.” – Plato

Every fact organized into our knowledge was once a claim, which was composed by different perspectives shaped by the temporal circumstances and then justified by the different methodologies available in the era it was presented. Considering the change in accuracy and validity of such methods throughout the years, the once solid line between our knowledge of today and the claim of the past time may be blurred. Although we believe we possess objective facts, from a different perspective gained by progress, such facts become re-interpreted in the light of new evidence, discoveries, technology or societal trends. This new knowledge sometimes makes the existing knowledge become wrong or outdated, causing the existing knowledge to be discarded in favor of the new knowledge. However, absolute refusal differs from modification, addition or correction in the sense that knowledge needs to be subject to review and revisionism over time.

Historical knowledge, which is gained basically by the study of the present traces of the past, needs revising, due to the inherent biases of the people who write history. As history can never be objective in an absolute sense and the contribution of every historian includes a subjective element to the context, every generation must rewrite its own history with the new and usually improved circumstances and opportunities it is surrounded with. As historians are concerned with describing the past as well as understanding and explaining it, historical knowledge we acquire today depends on their perception of the event, reasoning of interpretation and analysis and the language they used to account for what they had perceived. Therefore, as of with any other ways of knowing, our knowledge of history is influenced by the era in which it is written, where it is written and whom it is written by. The roles played in perception, reason and language by emotion and prejudice can easily be seen from the accounts of warring countries, seeming to describe two irrelevant events where as they only represent different points of view. Apart from the description part of the historical knowledge, its classifications are as well as inconsistent in the different parts of the world, analyzed in different eras of time. I have experienced such a duality last year, which then resulted into an example of historical revisionism. In my very first class of IB history, I had a personally revolutionary shock: I found out that the beginning of New Age started with Geographical Explorations, discarding my old knowledge from the national curriculum history class interpreting this turn-point as the Conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Emperor Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Although historical knowledge cannot be simply modeled into several cause-effect relationships as in natural sciences, I justified this later claim into knowledge by looking from a more universal point of view by understanding the multifactorial...

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