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TOK essay NOV2013 Topic 5 Help!

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I am looking for some help with my TOK essay

The question is the following:

“…Our knowledge is only a collection of scraps and fragments that we put together into a pleasing design, and often the discovery of one new fragment would cause us to alter utterly the whole design.” (Maurice Bishop)” To what extent is this true in History and one other Area of Knowledge?

The second area of knowledge I guess can be almost anything... as i like physics, i'm probably going to explore how einstein's theories changed the acceptance of all newtonian mechanics and universal gravitation laws.

However, I can't seem to get far with history... I mean, throughout history, there have been many discoveries that changed our view of the world, but a specific one that changed how we percieve history itself? I was thinking of exploring how the blame was put on germany right after world war one, shifted to all european powers in the 30s and laid back on germany after world war two due to our perception of germany as "evil" due to the nazi regime... what do you think? any suggestions?

Thanks :)

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Your TOK question refers to paradigm shifts within a discipline, or at least, to (less profound) changes in our accounts of human history brought on by the emergence of new evidence. The new evidence sometimes forces us to reconsider an event, epoch, process or such-like in a new light.

Two terms worth looking up, if you are not familiar with them already, are "revisionism" and "historiography".

Your example, phrased as it is, does not mention how emerging evidence ("fragments") has led to a new understanding of an event/period/process etc ("design") or how it has profoundly changed the discipline of History (which is, effectively, the " master-plan" or grand design of our human autobiography). Your topic, with rephrasing, would do fine, though. Fischer's re-reading and reconstitution of the historical documents is certainly an example of how new evidence can provide alternative historical accounts. But this may be a well-trodden (even tired) example in History.

Plenty of other, more recent, examples of how " fragments" are (profoundly) changing our conceptions of events are easily a hand -- taking place before our very eyes, in fact, as almost any current debate will show:

-The early (ancient) human occupation of the world -- or even of America itself. From newly discovered stone tool fragments, kill sites, settlements etc to evidence of gene dispersal as revealed by the revolutionary advances of DNA analysis. Our views of when and how humans spread across the globe and (more particularly) in how America was settled, is transforming our story of ourselves.

- DNA analysis is right now probably the single most newsworthy and high-profile catalyst to the rapid series of shifts in our accounts of human ancestry and evolution. Pre-History, granted, but again, the example serves to show how the story is being shaped and reshaped in front of our eyes, the ground being shifted beneath our feet.

- any -ISM will have had its effect on the discipline. Naturalism, Modernism, Post-Modernism ...T he fact that it is popular to discuss History as a "construct" is a fairly recent phenomenon, though the idea that History is human-made and our accounts are patterned is certainly not. These are not properly examples of "fragments" that have exerted changes in our views and explanations, but they have certainly forced us to see things in very different perspectives and led to very different historical accounts.

- On the smaller scale: I was watching a fascinating documentary the other night, debunking the myth (if you choose to see it that way) of a battle that has played an important role in the story of Britain and British national identity: Agincourt. All sorts of "fragments" there, mainly archaeological, but also textual, all being reconstituted and re-analyzed to offer a radically different explanation to what occurred over five hundred years ago. Look up " Battlefield Detectives" on YouTube. You'll see how our understanding (or story) of the event is shaped, disrupted, overturned, renewed, transformed, ....whatever ...by the emergence of new facts.

I will leave it others in the thread to suggest other examples, if they want to. But you have the idea, anyway, and that is more important to how you pick and choose your own topic and approach. Have fun!

Edited by Blackcurrant

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Talking about History is rather simple when you consider the question chosen. It is not changing your perception of what history is by itself, but the discovery of a certain event, DNA profiling or carbon-14 dating that gives results that are controversial to what everyone knew at the moment changes the way in which history was arranged.

For instance, in my country there were several pre-hispanic cultures that co-existed or developed one after the other. Taking the incas as an example, it was thought that their counting and un-deciphered system called Quipus (which are a series of knotted strings with different types of knots and numbers of knots, etc) was an invention of themselves. Several years later, the ancient civilization of Caral was discovered and is said to be between the 5 oldest civilizations of the whole world.

Coincidetally, the principle of the Quipu was also found in that culture. But the incas became important hundreds, if not thousands of years after the Caral civilization. Other patterns like the building of especial trails were also discovered. In this way, the perception that was had of the Inca culture changed, as it was discovered that it basically had taken what was best from different cultures and placed it into the game of their own society. The inca culture is sometimes called "the perfect socialism".

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hey, i did this question as well and i found that the statement was very obviously applicable to history simply because it is iMPOSSIBLE to know everything about it. All we know is the things that were left behind from the past (ie the scraps and fragments of the past) and it is up to US or whoever is in power (as some say that history is written by the powerful) to assemble it into a pleasing design. when discussing this question you need to look at things like: what this question assumes about knowledge (that is it bias) and how this effects the 'quest for truth'

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