Evaluate the following claim:
While there are a myriad of problems faced by Historians, knowledge can still be produced.
I would agree that there are many problems that Historians have to face in the production of knowledge. Firstly, there are many assumptions made in trusting or recording past historian claims (before common documentation methods were established, or from old civilizations). There is danger in interpreting language, as well as questioning the validity of information left from so long time ago. Similarily, it is difficult to judge when to trust eyewitness accounts. In history, there are no tests for truth – we would not know whether the eyewitness was trying to deceive on purpose, or is believing that they saw something that didn’t actually happen.
Another problem with History is that oftentimes, only a few events or pieces of evidence is known. The gaps between these events are filled in with logic or reasoning by historians, constructing a narrative to make the story seemingly make sense. However, it brings up the question of validity and if things were left out. For example, recently scientists discovered a misassumption being made, where a grave was unearthed containing various weapons. It was immediately assumed by the archaeologists that it must have been a male Viking which warrior’s grave. However, in the past month scientists were able to use modern technology to extract DNA from the skeleton, and found out that the Viking was actually a female, trumping assumed gender roles in society.
Lastly, another difficulty that historians face would be trying to get all perspectives of an event. History often takes sides – the side of the winner. For example, what we know of World War II is pretty much that of the allied powers’ perspective – but how would the axis describe the events?. History is written by those who won, which makes it problematic.
While I’ve described several of the problems in deriving historical knowledge, this does not mean that knowledge cannot be created. It is still valuable to try and piece together a reconstructed version of the past – while biased, while some facts may be off, that is still more useful to humans than if no attempt was made. Furthermore, corroboration by many different sources can strengthen the reliability of historical claims.