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“The historian’s task is to understand the past; the human scientist, by contrast, is looking to change the future.” To what extent is this true in these areas of knowledge?

Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt
November 13 2013
May 2014 Exam Session
Word Count: 1600

Humans have come to accept that History by mere definition is the exploration and study of history whereas the Human Sciences are defined as the in depth study of social, biological and cultural aspects of human beings. As humans we have used and accepted this two Areas of Knowledge, to interpret and understand the world around us. History and Human Sciences seek to influence humans through language, reason, and emotion. An assumption is made here that the Ways of Knowing help the Areas of Knowledge mentioned above serve their purpose. Furthermore, by reading the title I am making the assumption that it states that history solely concentrates on unraveling the past, while Human Sciences exclusively seeks to change the future. Nonetheless I claim that it is plausible that both Areas of Knowledge, with the help of ethics, emotion and reason seek to study and understand the knowledge from the past to strive to change the future, but it is up to both historians and human scientists to use it to either better the future or discard it as just knowledge. The knowledge issue I will investigate in this essay was created by the knowledge stated above, which in turn leads me to question in what ways does History and Human Science use emotion, language and ethics to study the past and change the future.

Knowledge from the past comes from studying our history. To have a thorough exploration we must base our knowledge on documents. Written documents however may mislead the reader from their purpose due to the emotions and the bias of the author1. However we must understand that not all documents are biased and share a same opinion. Emotion, as a WOK can either help or mislead a historian from his task2, and thus make him incapable of using knowledge found to change the future. Mermaids for example, are still a historical controversy. Christopher’s Columbus, a highly know explorer reassured humanity that mermaids indeed existed and stated that, “Creatures came quite high out of the water but were not as pretty as they are depicted their faces looked more like a mans.” He even reported an encounter with three of these creatures on January of 1493 (Unknown Explorers). Beside many diverse eyewitness testimonies, which can be modified by our emotions, there has no physical evidence of mermaids existing. Therefore lack of physical evidence and evident emotion used, Columbus’s account be related his experience to one of his many delusions while being at sea. Although I believe there are historians, such as Ari Berk (Ari Berk) who still believes in the existence of these creatures, due to the lack of evidence this piece of knowledge has been discarded as a mere folk story from the past.

Nonetheless our capacity to approach knowledge from the past to inch towards changing the future relies, I believe, on historians. By exploring the past we can argue that a situation may be likely to take place again. Thus we can interpret the future by using knowledge from the past. A counter-argument formulated against this is that: “Lightning never falls on the same place twice”. 3An example to this was the Rwanda Genocide. Nations involved in the Holocaust neglected the idea of similar events happening again and thereby thought of the event as part of our history’s past, which arguably later came to form part of the creation of the Rwanda Genocide4 (The Historian). Notwithstanding, there are times where we seek into our history’s past to have a better understanding of what may happen in the future. An example to this is the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Alongside with emotion ethics made this event served as a lesson for the United Nations, who inturn from that...
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