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 moment on intervened in any war or conflict who was nearing the magnitude of the bombings in Japan. When studying the bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War Two in my IB History class, I was very intrigued by how humanity could act in such a savage and inhumane way towards one of their kind, but then I understood that this event served as a guide to predict human behavior. Since our knowledge is primarily based on intuitions and assumptions as to what a person’s behavior is going to be5, it can then be inferred by historians what will happen in the future. Although historians seek for evidence to substantiate their facts, there are times were no physical evidence is found therefore they discard their evidence as merely a myth or relate it to other accounts who share a similar believe.
Nonetheless historians, who fail to seek into the past to substantiate their viewpoint, don’t necessarily neglect the idea of using the evidence found to better the future. When a historian is successful at achieving his goal and writes a successful review on a historical event it is then when he reasons as to whether the information can be applied to the future to make an improvement or if it should be discarded as another piece of evidence of our history’s past. On similar concept, Human Sciences also study the past to try and change the future. Anthropology as a branch of this AOK cultural anthropology6 studies the cultural and social variation among the different communities and races in the world.
Back in the past there was a misconception as to what cultural anthropology studied. It is still believed that this branch of anthropology only limits itself to the study of “primitive” communities. Certainly this was true in earlier periods were cultural anthropologists studied communities such as the Incan Empire (El Comercio). This research helped the world and even more so Peruvians understand their country’s past. As a Peruvian I find Peru’s history extraordinarily interesting and mysterious. The Incan Empire itself was one of the most enigmatic periods of my country’s past. Sadly, this information in my perspective, strives to resolve the cultural and social variations amongst different races and communities.
Cultural anthropologists seek to use the knowledge found strive to resolve the mysteries that sorround a country’s historical background (Manchester University) . Nonetheless cultural anthropologists now a day, seek into our past to make societies aware of what must and what should not be repeated. Quechua for example was the leading language in Peru through the Incan Empire, but now a day through Peru’s colonization and the existence of discrimination in our country, it is only spoken by roughly ten percent of our population (El Comercio).
Cultural Anthropologists use this fact to re-affirm that our country is loosing part of its cultural richness, and thus Quechua must be put into practice in order for Peru to keep having the cultural richness Peru has in the future. On the contrary, another branch of anthropology called social anthropology studies the conflicts, contradictions, ambiguities and perspectives of the social life and how their understanding can help better social relationships in the future. Although reason is needed here, emotion is seen in a much bigger scale throughout the study of this branch due to the fact that human relationships wouldn’t exist without emotion. As part of the Ethics subject in my IB TOK class we had a guest speaker, Gisela Ortiz, come talk to us about the “Cantuta Massacre, and how it had affected her family7.
Anthropologists who studied the Terrorist period in and even more so events similar “La Cantuta Massacre” led by the Colina Group, led Peru and its government to implement new laws involving Human and Civil Rights (Elementos del Peru). Therefore it is clear that social anthropology seeks to understand the past as an example as to what has to be done and what must not be repeated. While cultural anthropologists study the cultural and social variations of the past to make the world understand the different cultural backgrounds that the 168 countries in the world have, but also seek to enrich them, social anthropologists not only study the past and the present of how human and cultural relationships had begun and have been evolving, but it also uses information to create a better future by implementing improve the human race’s relationships of the future.
Even though History and Human Science differ in many aspects it is in this essay’s claim: to understand and seek into our history’s past in order to change the future. Although knowledge may sometimes be inapplicable to the improvement of our future, there are times when it is the lack of physical evidence that plays against historians and humans scientists. Nonetheless, when successful both AOK seek both to understand the past and change the future.