Notion of Indisputable Truth in History


The notion that there is no indisputable truth in history has been the central issue in history studies today.   This issue brings along the debate of what truth is and how we might/might not get access to it.[1] The two sides Catherine Keenan introduces in her work “In the right corner” are the objective historians; the conservatives who argue the commonsense proposition that history aims to uncover the truth about the past, and the postmodernist historians who present the idea that there is no such thing as the objective truth.[2] Post modernists even though they usually concede that we can know certain facts about the past, argue that once we weave those facts into a story; into a history, we enter the realm of subjectivity, and this is the consequence of the fact that each historian chooses their facts differently.[3]

Post modernism is the most radical and significant challenge to the common view of what a historian does. Post modernist ideas completely reject the notion of truth saying that we have no way of accessing reality except through language and language is incapable of doing this as it comprises gaps, symbols, metaphors and evasions of which even writers themselves are unaware of[4]. As most of historical information possessed by historians is text the issue of distortion can never be eliminated as there are inherent problems such as bias, propaganda, gaps in evidence and the context of the writer in each source a historian makes use of which makes the elimination of distortions impossible. Even if a historian is capable of uncovering all the distortions of a text their own texts would be distorted in the same way[5].

Postmodernist historians argue that what historians really write is nothing more than fiction. As they argue that we can neither uncover nor explain what is universally and exactly true. They argue that truth is relative because the truth we uphold is the truth...