The Relativism of Historical Truth

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Re: The Relativism of Historical Truth

Post by bookowlie » 13 Jun 2018, 09:04

Emilyflint wrote:
10 Jun 2018, 12:40
Unfortunetly, a lot of history has to be taken with a grain of salt. It is all up to the person who is actually writing the history down. Also, whether is was sanctioned by the king, queen, or other ruling party. You better believe that they would have or had soneone go over it and smooth over details that they didnt like.
So true. At least, we have more documentation nowadays through 24/7 news, the internet, youtube, and widespread print journalism. Even so, it's difficult for accurate news to come out of many regions of the world even now.
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Post by bookowlie » 13 Jun 2018, 19:56

alisonedgee wrote:
05 Jun 2018, 21:21
I would. Personally, whatever the content is, be it film/books/tv/ w/e, if you're going to use real things be accurate. It really bothers be knowing that there are pointless inaccuracies in things. If you're going to have characters visit a place, a real, well know landmark, fgs do the research to make it realistic. If you're not willing to put in the effort then just say 'a street' or 'a gallery' you know.

its a little pet peeve i guess.
I agree. I think the author did a pretty good job here. For example, the Uffizi Gallery is an actual art gallery in Florence. What bothers me is when a TV show or book makes up a fictional town in a real state. The TV show The Middle is set in Orson, a fictional town, in Indiana. This annoys me, for some reason.
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Post by briellejee » 14 Jun 2018, 01:39

cristinaro wrote:
13 Jun 2018, 00:55
briellejee wrote:
06 Jun 2018, 03:13
I think I would. I am really fond of these controversies lying around. It's like an adventure with Google rather than a map though. But still, it really made me wonder what else is hidden behind the glamour and prestige of these well-known, historically relevant and life-changing artists and their works?
I've often wondered why I am also curious to know more about the life of a certain artist. I guess it is because his life is a reflection of his genius and is always somehow reflected in his work. I only wish brilliant artists were praised during their life rather than after their death.
I agree that artists should be praised while they're alive. They're dead now. How would they know that they actually made a difference in the world?

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Post by briellejee » 14 Jun 2018, 01:45

cristinaro wrote:
13 Jun 2018, 01:20
briellejee wrote:
07 Jun 2018, 04:13
Bettercallyourbookie wrote:
06 Jun 2018, 21:00


I so agree! I wonder what historical events were purposefully changed to save face for particularly powerful people. What events actually transpired? And what effect did that have on events after the fact? How much of what we know as "history" is actually true?
But how sad it would be if we uncover the secrets and realize that they are not as life-changing as they were? The truth really does come with a price. I dont know if you have watched Coco, but their legendary musician was fraud and it was heartbreaking to the ones that looked up to him.
I think the truth is important no matter the price. What makes me very sad is that I have to helplessly witness the change of historical truth only for the benefit of a small group of people. Think of all the victims of WWII. There were people who were still looking for the officer that tortured them in the concentration camps many years after everything finished. They needed the truth to be revealed. They couldn't move on while thinking their tormentor continued to live a peaceful life or be a respected member of the community somewhere in the world.
I think truth here is not as general as it seems to be because it applies differently in certain situations. Your view of the victims of WWII wanting to know the truth is different than the people who looked up to other people. Those victims want the truth for the sole purpose of moving on, because something happened to them, while in my case above, a simple girl/boy wasn't even looking for the truth, it was just discovered or realized.

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Post by Kendra M Parker » 14 Jun 2018, 05:51

cristinaro wrote:
12 Jun 2018, 09:28
Kendra M Parker wrote:
05 Jun 2018, 07:52
Your comment reminds me of the book that was popular a little while ago called Lies My Teacher Told Me. History is written by the “winners” or those in charge. When you go back to look at original sources from the “losing” side, it is interesting to see how often things look very different from that other side. Both sides use propaganda throughout history and part of a historian's job is to sort out the propaganda from the truth.
As long as the historian himself preserves his objectivity, I think we can have a version of history as close to facts and the truth as possible. What I am afraid of is that moment when truth is rewritten to fit a certain political or ideological purpose and all members of society become silent witnesses.
That is a fear of mine as well. Public policy determining the truth of history is a scary time. It sadly becomes far too easy when people pass on their obligation to think for themselves and do their own research.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 15 Jun 2018, 10:04

kjarch1228 wrote:
11 Jun 2018, 23:36
I think there are many things that we regard as historical fact that may be inaccurate. Don't get me wrong, I no conspiracy theorist but I do believe that much has been lost or changed over time. When you really think about it, history is just something someone, or multiple someones, experienced once and recorded for future generations. Being the imperfect beings that we are those accounts are most definitely subject to inaccuracies whether intentional or not.

I'm interested to know how much of this book is based on historical fact. Of course, I know of the Medicis and da Vinci but I don't know how much of the storyline was made up. I'm planning on doing a little research to find out.
It is so hard to know how much of history is true. I do like to research things that are not a matter of opinion and would be recorded. For instances whether or not someone was married or had a child. That would be a matter of public record so is reasonably trustworthy.

Lots of information Is a matter of perception. So even if it is true as far as the recorder knows it to be, it is still tainted to by so many personal things.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 15 Jun 2018, 10:25

In the context of a novel that is deemed to be fiction, historical accuracy is not essential for my enjoyment of the story. However, if the history seems to be central to the story or gets really interesting or extensive, I do like to look up the facts surrounding the fiction. I find the research more enjoyable if the author tried to be historically accurate. I am a HUGE fan of Philippa Gregory. Every time I read one of her books I look up the characters to see if they were really purported to have done what Gregory chronicles. Her historical accuracy is wonderful. What amazes me is the extent to which the more interesting events are true. All of the secret marriages and affairs. It's all very scandalous and exciting. The truth of all of that makes the book that much more enjoyable.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 15 Jun 2018, 10:33

cristinaro wrote:
13 Jun 2018, 01:33
NRoach wrote:
07 Jun 2018, 12:36
All history is, really, is a series of anecdotes told or written down and passed on to us. That means that basically every single source is unreliable in some way.

That's why it's so important to cross reference pretty much everything when studying the past.
I am scared of the thought of history as an anecdote, but I guess you're technically right. I am thinking of a crime and 5 witnesses of the same scene. No 2 witnesses will tell you the same thing about what happened. However, there is still historical evidence that could be used to support historical authenticity. Besides, like you said, cross referencing is extremely important.
I loved studying psychology in college so took a few extra classes. One of the things we discussed is eye witness testimony. It is ridiculously inaccurate. But think about how little we actually notice (things that would be left out of someone's historical account because it was never given any attention). If I walk past someone in the hall at work and say "hey, how are you," I bet if you asked me 5 minutes later to describe them and what they were wearing, did they have on glasses, how did they have their hair that day, etc...I couldn't give an accurate or thorough description. It's one of the pitfalls to accurately recording history. It's not like we are carrying around video cams to record everything in case it might turn out to be important. Ok, some people are obsessed with Facebook Live but us normal folks don't do that.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 15 Jun 2018, 10:36

Ana-Maria-Diana wrote:
09 Jun 2018, 13:52
Of course I will google every name and place, historical or artistic fact. I think, searching for information you do not know for sure it is a beautiful process that enhances the capacity of understanding the book at its whole.
I love this explanation of why you think it is worthwhile to research the facts. You can also get a more comprehensive view of what is going on. You may learn things the author doesn't detail that can really set a scene or give background information to provide deeper understanding. It's also a way to learn something! When I read historical novels I find my research into the facts is a great conversation starter. I love talking to my husband about the Tudors. They were so scandalous and exciting to learn about. I don't want to talk about war. Just people who had a bunch of wives and temper issues.

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Post by kfwilson6 » 15 Jun 2018, 10:42

bookowlie wrote:
13 Jun 2018, 09:04
Emilyflint wrote:
10 Jun 2018, 12:40
Unfortunetly, a lot of history has to be taken with a grain of salt. It is all up to the person who is actually writing the history down. Also, whether is was sanctioned by the king, queen, or other ruling party. You better believe that they would have or had soneone go over it and smooth over details that they didnt like.
So true. At least, we have more documentation nowadays through 24/7 news, the internet, youtube, and widespread print journalism. Even so, it's difficult for accurate news to come out of many regions of the world even now.
Technology does make recording history so much easier. Only "important" people and events were recorded when they had to be done with a quill and papyrus. And can you image having to do it the Flintstone way by chiseling into a rock??? I wouldn't want to bother with recording anything I wouldn't personally need to reference if it were that much trouble.

To Emilyflint's point, how honest would someone be in recording history if they knew that certain recordings could get them killed? They wouldn't dare say anything against a monarch or dictator that would then be seen by that person. It would be destroyed anyway.

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Post by Acwoolet » 15 Jun 2018, 11:19

I will definitely be researching the historical aspects of the book. I know history isn’t necessarily accurate because a lot of it was word of mouth or written from memory. It would be amazing to be able to find original sources.

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Post by holsam_87 » 16 Jun 2018, 02:04

cristinaro wrote:
01 Jun 2018, 16:34
Visiting the Uffizi Gallery, Angela tackles the issue of whether the missing painting belongs to Leonardo da Vinci or not. As she learns the real story of the painting, she ponders on the relativism of historical truth: “It makes you wonder how many other things we consider true about the past are shadowed in misconceptions and cover-ups.”

What are your views on the matter? Would you be tempted to google some historical names and places in the novel to distinguish between fact and fiction?
I would love to google the names and places. It gives me a chance to learn more about Art from the Renaissance.
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Post by Dael Reader » 18 Jun 2018, 15:07

I did Google a few things from this book to see what was legit and what wasn't. I write juvenile non-fiction for a living, so I know how difficult it can be to sift through sources to find out what's true, what's not, and what is purely speculative. Generally, I don't like books that rewrite/reimagine historic events or take real people and make up stories about them. I think of it is fictionalized history rather than historical fiction, and I don't like it. It some cases, it perpetuates ideas that might be completely wrong. That's a disservice to history. If an author does this in a book, I like to see sometime of disclaimer at the beginning or end that tells readers what parts are fact and what parts are fiction. It's only fair.

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Post by alisonedgee » 19 Jun 2018, 10:09

bookowlie wrote:
13 Jun 2018, 19:56
alisonedgee wrote:
05 Jun 2018, 21:21
I would. Personally, whatever the content is, be it film/books/tv/ w/e, if you're going to use real things be accurate. It really bothers be knowing that there are pointless inaccuracies in things. If you're going to have characters visit a place, a real, well know landmark, fgs do the research to make it realistic. If you're not willing to put in the effort then just say 'a street' or 'a gallery' you know.

its a little pet peeve i guess.
I agree. I think the author did a pretty good job here. For example, the Uffizi Gallery is an actual art gallery in Florence. What bothers me is when a TV show or book makes up a fictional town in a real state. The TV show The Middle is set in Orson, a fictional town, in Indiana. This annoys me, for some reason.
I see how it can be annoying, but i suppose if the entire town is fictional then the writers have free licence to create without the boundaries of having to adhere to reality.

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Post by KRay93 » 19 Jun 2018, 18:34

"History is written by the victors" is a popular phrase that can be applied in this scenario. Everything we read in the history books follows a certain ideological line, more so in the texts designed for school education. Of course, this does not mean that everything that is in them is a lie, but that some things were rearranged to serve certain interests. Anyway, with the passage of time, the records of these events have become more and more accessible thanks to inventions such as the printing press or even the internet itself nowadays, all of which serves to gradually erase that thin line between truth and lie. However, we can also thank this uncertainty factor for so many fascinating fiction books that resolved to speculate on it.

As for the book in question, well, no. I did not get into the story that much as to want to verify the likelihood of the elements presented as "real".

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