History is the study of the past. From the point of view of TOK, history is an area of knowledge that studies the recorded past. It is true. Behind the term “history”, it is a field of knowledge, a record and study of past events, like anything that happened before the present moment can be called history, and that has more or less value of its own. Moreover, when people talk about learning history, actually it is true that “studying history also deepens our understanding of human behaviour, as reflecting on the past can help us to make sense of the present”(TOK guide 2015). For example, WW2 is a recognized historical event which has so many first hand information and second hand information (Historical documents) to prove. From this phase of history, we not only learn the destruction of war and knowledge of conflicts, but also know that how to protect peace and how to promote technological progress more effectively and so on, which in a sense to help human civilization progress.
Speaking of historical events like WW2, we can quickly find out that history actually is supported by all kinds of documentary evidence. Naturally, there are some questions: whether the evidence is reliable? How accurate are the historians’ accounts and analyses of historical events? All these questions will directly affect the authenticity of historical events. In fact, we can easily find out that much of history remains to be seen for its accuracy and veracity, especially for ancient history such as Greek civilization. Like we can’t help but wonder if the historical evidence handed down thousands of years ago really reflects the situation, because after all, we didn’t see it for ourselves.
There is properly no history; only biography.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I agree with it to a certain extent. We can say that history serves mankind, mankind is creating history, writing history. We also can say that only what you see is real, and the authenticity of history can also be judged according to this personal way of thinking. However, everyone is different. They are in different environments, experience differently, and hear and see different things. These all negate the decisiveness and consistency of history to a certain extent, and that’s why there is no proper history. However, a biography is a detailed description of a person’s life, which can naturally apply for record of history. Think about it another way, biography may be more appropriate for our current textual research on history.
Furthermore, for a recognized history (this is actually happening), it can not be consistent in life for a variety of reasons. In How Texas Teaches History, the question of grammar in the textbooks bring into question the reality of how black people were treated by white people in the context of slavery, although we can learn about the real situation from all kinds of real literature. Here is another example, up to now, many Japanese refuse to admit the crimes committed by their country in the war of aggression against China, including the fact that the education of the new generation of Japanese young people has not made a clear statement on the incident of aggression against China, and even denied the incident in many textbooks. Maybe they just want to base on the quote that “History is written by the winners.—George Orwell” to do some negation.
In conclusion, I think the discussion about proper history is contradictory.