Sunday, May 6, 2018

History and Truth

Today someone posted this on a friend's Facebook page:

"This has always been my problem with history. It's so distorted. I find it hard to trust."

I and others like me who love history must always feel a little disappointed when we encounter those who believe it is distorted and untrustworthy. All branches of knowledge change over time when new data or new ways of interpreting that data, emerge. Even the hard sciences such as chemistry or geology - even physics, which is mostly understood through advanced mathematics, is hotly disputed. Albert Einstein had quite a lot of trouble accepting the new quantum theories that we take for granted today. 

If someone is looking for absolute truth in any branch of knowledge, they won't find it. Yet I believe that each honestly reasoned attempt we make to understand things, even history, based on evidence, advances us that much farther . . . if not toward absolute truth, then at least toward a better understanding.

Image: c1770 limestone relief  of Clio, the muse of History. From Plas Llangoedmor estate, Cardigan, Wales.

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