History as we rewrite it …

Where does the true worth of a man lie? In his (creative) accomplishment? In his moral integrity?

I find it very paradoxical that a lot of how we judge a man in his own time has a lot to do with our perception of him, whereas in posterity he is judged by the value of his work, and all his personal characteristics go into the making of his legend.

When I was in sixth grade, I happened to have a history teacher who took a real delight in teaching his subject, and never had to refer to the text book. We were confused, however, when he started criticizing Mohd Bin T. as a short sighted idiot and a tyrant when our text books described his as a misunderstood visionary. The diffrence, as it turned out, lied in the text books, which had apparently been changed within a span of 20 years to please the Muslim community, or may be just the Chairman of the syllabus committee was a die-hard Mughal fan. In any case, the perspective of a whole generation was changed to suit the minority-politics of the day.

Let me digress still more.

One of the most interesting book I read was a complete history of India which my cousin won as a prize. It was written by two Russian guys, and it had a very interesting perspective to share about the Indian Struggle for Freedom. By then, I had read many accounts of the same, so I had the experience and the patience to compare and contrast. It convinced me that History is as much a science as Physics is as long as the process of coming up with new theories is concerned, and since then I have regarded History a subject deserving real scholars, because History, far from being a collection of factual data and their unbiased explanation, is a completely individualistic reconstruction and interpretation of past events subject to fluctuating personal tastes.


Incorrigible Introvert

I wouldn't pretend I have a worthy tale to tell, I have only the ramifications of a twisted mind to sell.
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2 Responses to History as we rewrite it …

  1. History is not a strict science like Physics, because it is not falsifiable in the strict sense of the term. Given a theory in History, you cannot in general construct an infinite family of experiments, such that if any one of them fail, the theory is wrong.

    P.S. String theory isn’t much of a theory either, and for precisely the same reasons.

  2. Yes, History is not a strict science like Physics, and that is why I kept the comparison limited to the process of coming up with new theories, which can take a lot of creativity and individuality.

    I made the comparison with Physics, because both History and Physics are about the reconstruction of reality from the given data. In physics we have a working Universe and we have to guess the rules, in History we have a working past and we have to guess how it happened.

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