Empathy and Imagination in History

by Jasmine on September 5, 2016

“The value of knowledge is lost when the lines between fact and fiction are blurred.”



Knowledge is typically known to be purely or mostly facts, as one wouldn’t think of knowledge as being false or fiction. However, this quote is saying that if there is a blend between both fiction and fact, THAT is when the value of knowledge is lost. This leads to a knowledge question: Is fictional knowledge possible, if so, is it valuable/reliable?

Historians struggle with the validity of their sources as the only source they have are secondary – passed down by other historians. This creates many gaps and knowledge missing from the entire picture. They need to use imagination┬áto fill in the empty gaps of knowledge. Imagination helps since they are making an educated guess on how an event may turn out, based on hints and details from things that happened before and after, they may see a correlation between the information. Historians use empathy as well since this gives them a chance to put themselves in other people’s shoes, relating to the event or specific person and gather knowledge about missing information about the historic event.

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