To what extent can knowledge of past events be corrected over time? (WoKs,…
To what extent can knowledge of past events be corrected over time?
Scientists (primary/secondary source): Reason + Sense Perception
Eng Yang (primary source): Memory + Sense Perception + Faith + Emotion
Interviewers (forming the role of the interpreters in this context): Language + Reason + Imagination + Memory
Note on the stimulus material: The knowledge of the "Yellow Rain" phenomenon has changed as more experiments took place. This changed the shared knowledge for most of the world, but not the knowledge of chemical weapons use to the niece and uncle pair at the interview. The world's focus entirely on that segment of the killing of the Hmong people in Vietnam by the Pathet Lao and Viet Cong angered the niece in particular due to the interviewers questioning of whether chemical weapons were or weren't dropped. The world's focus on the alleged use of chemical weapons has allowed the Hmong people to shed light on the massacres that took place after the Vietnam war. To the pair being interviewed, any revocation or motion to stipulate the presence of chemical weapons in the killing of the Hmong people is an undermining of the killings that actually took place. Though this is just an interpretation of the stimulus, it seems as if they have conflated the world's belief that chemical weapons were present with the belief that the massacres also occurred.
Natural Sciences (able to test material and objects from the past in order to have some idea of the past)
Human Sciences (looking at human trends through psychology, thus able to make sense of group and individual behaviour)
History (+ amalgamation of Nat. Sci and Hum. Sci)
Knowledge CAN be corrected over time as new evidence is found and tested. This change in historical knowledge would be achieved by the natural sciences.
While this may be true for shared knowledge in order to form consensus opinion, personal knowledge cannot be "corrected" over time as that knowledge is true for that particular individual. This can be seen with people's refutation of many concepts the Natural Sciences hold to a high regard, like the fact that the Earth is a sphere.
The job of history as an area is less to change personal histories but more so to change shared histories. Personal histories are more subject to bias. If a group shares an idea, particularly if it is an idea of trauma, knowledge from the Human Sciences can tell us how unifying ideas can act as glue that holds a group together and fulfils the human need for belonging.
Reliance on shared knowledge is extremely tricky as it depends on who has the ability to manipulate the access to historical information and who has the access to historical information itself. If one belongs to a country with a despotic regime which has a specific agenda against a certain group of individuals, the country has the ability to change the shared knowledge and thus influence the population towards a specific bias.
Personal Knowledge: I know that certain things
happened in the past (such as Napoleon Bonaparte conquering large swaths of Europe in the early 1800s) due to various historical artefacts and written histories left over from that time. Knowledge taken from other AoKs (Natural + Human Sciences) as well as intuition can help explain why those events occurred. As more pieces of the past are uncovered / analyzed, the more previously known things are open to correction/change.
A key component that determines this personal knowledge as well as the openness of one's family. If the truth of important events are revealed later in life, then this can change one's ideas about the personal knowledge of the history of their family. This in turn can affect the identity of the individual, and thus interpretation of other historical events.
Shared Knowledge: As a group of Western-educated humans across the world, we know that certain events occurred and the components of those events by listening believing the carefully curated and created ideas of historical events from historians and others. As new information is revealed, this shared knowledge is open to change.