The Role of a Historian
Theory of Knowledge 11
How can a historian be confident about what he writes, when what he writes is always going to be subjective? The role of a historian is to report events in chronological order by looking at the facts and recalling what has happened to the best of their ability. This is their main role and some would argue that this is their only role, but the knower can discern that this is not the historian’s only assigned task. The task of the historian is more complicated than that of simply reporting what the records say. Usually, records of history that survive are both incomplete and often contradictory, and the historian therefore has to try, in some fashion, to address those gaps and contradictions(BBC). That is, he or she has to act as an interpreter to be able to mold our history. This interpretation utilizes the historian’s artistic imagination. This artistic imagination that is used is then seen embodied as uncertainty, the uncertainty that is present in all history to this date. A good historian tries to cipher out most of the uncertainty but uses his imagination to ensure the reader fully understands what has happened. To do this “A historian must combine the rigor of the scientist with the imagination of the artist.”
This ideology is problematic for a historian because they are always striving for objectivity but can never reach it. The reason behind this is caused by the second part of what a historian must do. He must offer the imaginative interpretation of the historical facts. This is what pulls the reader in, humanize that event, making it relatable and in a sense more true to the reader and more true to life. History is in the past and no longer exists so unlike science, it cannot be recreated or redone like trials in a laboratory. No matter how much rigor a historian puts in it, it doesn’t take away from the fact that memories are fallible, most evidence found...