2
   

Things we will never know?

 
 
dawoel
 
Reply Mon 6 Jul, 2009 07:20 am
Another curiosity post...Those who know a thing or two about history, can you give me examples of facts that we will never know? Or may never know?
  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 4,336 • Replies: 32
No top replies

 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jul, 2009 08:17 am
@dawoel,
Historians are always making discoveries of new sources, or data, that shed light on past events; at times, these will either confirm the current account or will require modification and revision of it.

For example, the greater availability of economic data through the transference of original sources to the internet coupled with the ability to use computers to assemble and analyze large amounts of data, has provided---and will continue to do so---the basis for reassessment of our understanding of both the Medieval as well as the Victorian period (the mortality rates of different "social classes). The new studies of genetics is just beginning to make itself useful to historians (Jefferson's illegitimate children; the identification of mummies). The discovery of new documents also changes (or confirms) our historical knowledge; the release of Presidential Papers or of government archives from Communist Poland are two recent examples. Also consider how the translation of the Rosetta Stone opened up our knowledge of Ancient Egypt.

While I am not sure what is meant by "unknown facts," it seems likely that much of the prehistory of mankind will always be a matter of conjecture because of the lack of evidence of any kind. As Aristotle wrote, you cannot have a science of non-being.

As we discover new data, or improve our ability to understand it in different ways, we cannot with certainly delineate (outside of pre-history) areas that are unknowable, or "facts" we cannot in principle uncover.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jul, 2009 09:48 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;75323 wrote:
Historians are always making discoveries of new sources, or data, that shed light on past events; at times, these will either confirm the current account or will require modification and revision of it.

For example, the greater availability of economic data through the transference of original sources to the internet coupled with the ability to use computers to assemble and analyze large amounts of data, has provided---and will continue to do so---the basis for reassessment of our understanding of both the Medieval as well as the Victorian period (the mortality rates of different "social classes). The new studies of genetics is just beginning to make itself useful to historians (Jefferson's illegitimate children; the identification of mummies). The discovery of new documents also changes (or confirms) our historical knowledge; the release of Presidential Papers or of government archives from Communist Poland are two recent examples. Also consider how the translation of the Rosetta Stone opened up our knowledge of Ancient Egypt.

While I am not sure what is meant by "unknown facts," it seems likely that much of the prehistory of mankind will always be a matter of conjecture because of the lack of evidence of any kind. As Aristotle wrote, you cannot have a science of non-being.

As we discover new data, or improve our ability to understand it in different ways, we cannot with certainly delineate (outside of pre-history) areas that are unknowable, or "facts" we cannot in principle uncover.


We cannot be absolutely certain about anything, but I would doubt whether we will ever know whether Caesar sneezed just before he crossed the Rubicon. Do you?
0 Replies
 
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jul, 2009 09:52 am
@dawoel,
dawoel;75304 wrote:
Another curiosity post...Those who know a thing or two about history, can you give me examples of facts that we will never know? Or may never know?


Well ... I guess it depends upon what you mean by know.

In any case, history is something that you formulate in your mind based upon some input from some perspectives (a book, hearsay, eye witness account, video, audio recordings, etc.). Depending upon how much you trust your sources (including your own mind), you may know more or less.

As for me, knowing humans (of whom I am one), I always maintain some air of skepticism. Smile

Rich
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jul, 2009 10:12 am
@richrf,
richrf;75361 wrote:
Well ... I guess it depends upon what you mean by know.

In any case, history is something that you formulate in your mind based upon some input from some perspectives (a book, hearsay, eye witness account, video, audio recordings, etc.). Depending upon how much you trust your sources (including your own mind), you may know more or less.

As for me, knowing humans (of whom I am one), I always maintain some air of skepticism. Smile

Rich


Would that "air" mean you don't know that an atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, or that George W. Bush was the president of the United States before Obama?
0 Replies
 
Alan McDougall
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 04:22 am
@dawoel,
Did Hitler really commit suicide?
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 01:41 pm
@dawoel,
More things we will never know; than things we do know about history, I presume.
The goal of history is to explain the present and avoid repeating the errors of the past not to have complete knowledge (sort of a form of collective memory).
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Jan, 2010 01:47 pm
@richrf,
richrf;75361 wrote:
Well ... I guess it depends upon what you mean by know.

In any case, history is something that you formulate in your mind based upon some input from some perspectives (a book, hearsay, eye witness account, video, audio recordings, etc.). Depending upon how much you trust your sources (including your own mind), you may know more or less.

As for me, knowing humans (of whom I am one), I always maintain some air of skepticism. Smile

Rich


"Know" means, justified true belief, as far as I know. Although I think that you are right. We can never be certain that we do have true justified belief. But that, of course, does not mean that we do not have true justified belief, and therefore, that we do know.
0 Replies
 
Ross phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 01:24 pm
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;116039 wrote:
Did Hitler really commit suicide?



I believe that the soviets kept fragments of Hitlers skull hidden for many years after discovering it . It did evidence a bullet wound however whether this was done by himself or not im not sure can be proven.
Also, i have reason to believe that in Spetember of last year they discovered that the fragment of skull was from a female. I guess that just adds another twist in the tale to the evil enigma that was Hitler.
The likelyhood is that Hitler did commit suicide, in his final days he was described as being Mad with a nervous twitch and beginning the planning of a pictoresque new town in Berlin , despite the fact it had by 1945 been destroyed. However i guess you are correct , we will never be 100% sure of how Hitler died, all we can agree on is that it was a shame it didnt happen earlier.
Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 02:10 pm
@Ross phil,
Ross;135500 wrote:
I believe that the soviets kept fragments of Hitlers skull hidden for many years after discovering it . It did evidence a bullet wound however whether this was done by himself or not im not sure can be proven.
Also, i have reason to believe that in Spetember of last year they discovered that the fragment of skull was from a female. I guess that just adds another twist in the tale to the evil enigma that was Hitler.
The likelyhood is that Hitler did commit suicide, in his final days he was described as being Mad with a nervous twitch and beginning the planning of a pictoresque new town in Berlin , despite the fact it had by 1945 been destroyed. However i guess you are correct , we will never be 100% sure of how Hitler died, all we can agree on is that it was a shame it didnt happen earlier.


Given what would have happened to Hitler if he had been caught at that time, committing suicide was the only reasonable thing he could have done at that point.

As for it being too bad that he had not died earlier, quite a few Germans tried to assassinate him earlier, but Hitler was lucky about such things (or God was on his side, which is what I am told was claimed at the time).
Ross phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:39 pm
@Pyrrho,
Yes i have read about some of the failed assasinations actually. Did make me wonder, they seemed far too consistantly fortunate for Hitler. I remember one was a bomb to go off near the end of his speech however he had to cut it short to travel back to Berlin. Things like this occured so much that it poses the question was Hitler meant to survive, however that would be a whole different debate eh ? Smile
0 Replies
 
Alan McDougall
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 06:46 pm
@Ross phil,
Ross;135500 wrote:
I believe that the soviets kept fragments of Hitlers skull hidden for many years after discovering it . It did evidence a bullet wound however whether this was done by himself or not im not sure can be proven.
Also, i have reason to believe that in Spetember of last year they discovered that the fragment of skull was from a female. I guess that just adds another twist in the tale to the evil enigma that was Hitler.
The likelyhood is that Hitler did commit suicide, in his final days he was described as being Mad with a nervous twitch and beginning the planning of a pictoresque new town in Berlin , despite the fact it had by 1945 been destroyed. However i guess you are correct , we will never be 100% sure of how Hitler died, all we can agree on is that it was a shame it didnt happen earlier.


During the very last days in his bunker Hitler was suffering badly from Parkinson's disease,

He looked 70 although he was only 56 when he died. Hid doctor indulged his every wim
0 Replies
 
mike90t09
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Mar, 2010 01:55 am
@dawoel,
I know this may be totally ridiculous but what about how certain movies like to bring up conspiracies about history like Indiana Jones or National Treasure.

It just makes me wonder if that stuff really exist or not. I don't know if we will ever find out, but of course those conspiracies could all be made up for entertainment purposes.
0 Replies
 
YEM
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 11:31 pm
@dawoel,
Think of history such as the early colonization of the United States. The colony of Roanoke more or less vanished off the face of the earth. No traces were left behind to indicate the fate of any of its inhabitants. Still to this day, we do not know the true history.

It does seem to make sense though that the history was at some point known, and I suppose lost. The inhabitants themselves would have certainly been aware of their fate, whether they moved to a different area, were slaughtered by Native Americans (or taken by aliens? =P ) they would have been completely aware.

So in my eyes, all history is at some point known, but could eventually be lost forever without proper documentation.



If you are using 'know' in a present tense and meaning that the information could be readily available through books or the internet, then I would have to agree that some history will always be unknown to us presently. But I don't think that any history has ever been 'unknown' to everyone to exist.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Mar, 2010 11:39 pm
@YEM,
YEM;140807 wrote:
Think of history such as the early colonization of the United States. The colony of Roanoke more or less vanished off the face of the earth. No traces were left behind to indicate the fate of any of its inhabitants. Still to this day, we do not know the true history.

It does seem to make sense though that the history was at some point known, and I suppose lost. The inhabitants themselves would have certainly been aware of their fate, whether they moved to a different area, were slaughtered by Native Americans (or taken by aliens? =P ) they would have been completely aware.

So in my eyes, all history is at some point known, but could eventually be lost forever without proper documentation.


If you are using 'know' in a present tense and meaning that the information could be readily available through books or the internet, then I would have to agree that some history will always be unknown to us presently. But I don't think that any history has ever been 'unknown' to everyone to exist.


I am not sure what you have in mind by "history" (maybe just historiography, in which case you are, of course, right). But you can't mean that some events that happened in the past are not known to have happened.
PappasNick
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 12:14 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;140811 wrote:
But you can't mean that some events that happened in the past are not known to have happened.


In one's personal history, for instance, events may have happened the import of which remain unknown for many years. Does one, in the mean time, know the events happened?
wayne
 
  1  
Reply Fri 26 Mar, 2010 12:26 pm
@dawoel,
Brings to mind a conversation I had about the situation between Sandra Bullock and hubby. How much of what we think we know is spin? Maybe they just didn't get along anymore, Sandra is americas sweetheart and bad Boy Jesse broke her heart. Lots of publicity in that, good all around. Is Oreilly really a no spin kinda guy?
0 Replies
 
StochasticBeauty
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Mar, 2010 09:05 pm
@Ross phil,
Ross;135500 wrote:
I believe that the soviets kept fragments of Hitlers skull hidden for many years after discovering it . It did evidence a bullet wound however whether this was done by himself or not im not sure can be proven.
Also, i have reason to believe that in Spetember of last year they discovered that the fragment of skull was from a female. I guess that just adds another twist in the tale to the evil enigma that was Hitler.
The likelyhood is that Hitler did commit suicide, in his final days he was described as being Mad with a nervous twitch and beginning the planning of a pictoresque new town in Berlin , despite the fact it had by 1945 been destroyed. However i guess you are correct , we will never be 100% sure of how Hitler died, all we can agree on is that it was a shame it didnt happen earlier.


additionally, It's thought that he had a degenerative neurological disease.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 28 Mar, 2010 11:29 pm
@PappasNick,
PappasNick;144116 wrote:
In one's personal history, for instance, events may have happened the import of which remain unknown for many years. Does one, in the mean time, know the events happened?


I don't know what you are asking. Are you asking whether if I know that some event happened, but I don't know what its significance is, do I know it has happened? The answer is, of course, yes. Why would you think any different?
PappasNick
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Mar, 2010 01:04 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;145437 wrote:
I don't know what you are asking. Are you asking whether if I know that some event happened, but I don't know what its significance is, do I know it has happened? The answer is, of course, yes. Why would you think any different?


Suppose you know that you engaged in a discourse with someone. But you are unaware that this discourse had a profound effect on your interlocutor. You know, of course, you had the discourse (assuming you remember), yet you are unaware of the larger event, the impact on the other. From the other's perspective, this larger event is what happened. If you learn about this impact on the other, you, too, will realize what has happened, what event happened. But not until you are informed. So you both do and do not know what event happened until that point, if such a point ever comes.
 

Related Topics

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, EVERYONE! - Discussion by OmSigDAVID
WIND AND WATER - Discussion by Setanta
Who ordered the construction of the Berlin Wall? - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
True version of Vlad Dracula, 15'th century - Discussion by gungasnake
ONE SMALL STEP . . . - Discussion by Setanta
History of Gun Control - Discussion by gungasnake
Where did our notion of a 'scholar' come from? - Discussion by TuringEquivalent
 
  1. Forums
  2. » Things we will never know?
Copyright © 2023 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.04 seconds on 01/26/2023 at 10:12:42