Telling the Truth About History

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Jessica Baeza
March 17, 2005
History 281
Journal Assignment #3

Post-Modernity and Its Effects on Historical Writings

The struggle to find truth in telling the stories of history has been a source of constant debate amongst historians and intellectuals. With the emergence of religious rejection during the seventeenth and eighteenth century Enlightenment, the influence and undoubted supremacy of the heroic model of science provided historians with new ways for obtaining truth—absolute truths—through the dispassionate eyes of a “heroic” observer. Although this remains unchallenged for many generations, with the cultural changes and the democratization of education, the idea of an absolute truth—a universal story of national progress which neglects to encompass the diversity of America—is challenged by post-modernity. In all its pessimisms towards absolute truths and objective knowledge, post-modernism illustrates the importance of and sets the foundation for questioning historical accuracy and the idea of objectivity. Can there be truth when the words and language of the “objective” observer is unintentionally dripping in their own personal, social, and political agendas? Through the works of Foucault and Deerdas, who get at the heart of this very question, historians are encouraged to reject the Enlightenment project, and look deeper into historical evidence to interrogate the structure and organization of the text, its vocabulary, and hidden assumptions. Although, post-modernity—a critique of the Enlightenment ideals—creates the framework for the questioning of historical accuracy, it is very important to recognize its inability to formulate its own solutions to this historical dilemma. Fortunately, with the succeeding ideas of practical realists, there is a sense of hope and optimism for the future of history and the all-encompassing truths that it can uphold.

How did post-modernity challenge the heroic model of science and enlightenment...
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