In what ways could it be said that interpretations in History are more effected by the different Ways of Knowing (language, reason, emotion, perception) than knowledge in Mathematics is? History is the study of the past. Mathematics is the study of concepts such as quantity, structure, space and change. Therefore, since the two areas of knowledge differ, the acquisition of knowledge in these areas will also differ.
For example, the methods used to gather historical information/data cannot be used in mathematics: one will not try and find historical objects such as archaeologists do in order to acquire knowledge in mathematics because the result has no link to the knowledge area of mathematics. It is therefore clear that acquiring knowledge in the knowledge area of history will be different from acquiring knowledge in mathematics. The Ways of Knowing (language, reason, emotion, perception) are instrumental aspects in trying to acquire information in any Area of Knowledge.
The way that these Ways of Knowing affect the acquisition of knowledge in the different Areas of Knowledge varies because the methods for acquiring data in the knowledge areas vary. This difference is particularly noticeable in the acquisition of knowledge in history and mathematics. This essay will investigate how the Ways of Knowing affect the acquisition of knowledge in both history and mathematics and in what ways history is more affected than mathematics. This difference will lie in the variation between what history is concerned with and what math involves.
Studying the past always involves reference to primary and secondary sources used to prove the existence of certain events and information. Sometimes, historical information can be proven wrong as it is inaccurate based on the events that actually occurred. But mathematics involves a more systematic approach because there is only one right answer and it is very easy to prove whether one is right or wrong. Knowledge in mathematics can be justified by the use of proofs, which are constructed by mathematicians through logical reasoning.
Although proofs can be obtained in history, some are subjective as they could be based on primary sources such as an interview with a person who was involved in a certain event in the past, and others are difficult to obtain because they occurred in the past. History has a link with the Ways of Knowing which cannot be ignored because it is very evident. Firstly, exploring emotion, the people in the past had certain feelings because they expressed joy, sorrow, anger as well as fear. These emotions can have multiple meanings because they were manipulated and interpreted by historians.
The way that historians have manipulated these emotions has affected the importance of certain events in human history. For example, a famous historian Huizinga said that “people in the Middle Ages are wild, cruel, prone to violent outbreaks and abandoned to the joy of the moment” (The Perception of History as a Science). The actions of the people of the Middle Ages could have been determined by their emotions and the way the historians have interpreted this information has had a significant impact on the importance of certain events in the Middle Ages. Language in history can be explored through Beowulf, part of old English literature.
Beowulf was composed in an Anglic dialect, at a time when the English spoken today did not exist. Those who spoke English in those times never claimed that the Anglic dialect was a version of the Standard English spoken today and hence it was a huge shame for them because they could not interpret their own language. In addition, the interpretation of Beowulf was done differently when composed in the Anglic dialect and when translated to Standard English, showing that history can be interpreted differently based on the language that was used then. Reason in history is mainly explored through why certain events occurred.
However, along with perception, the real account of events and emotions experienced cannot be accounted for because even some primary sources can be subjective or biased as they could be written from someone’s perspective and hence this brings an uncertainty to the existence of certain historical events that have not been proven through logical reasoning. Mathematics also has a considerable link with the Ways of Knowing. Firstly, I am going to observe the link between mathematics and emotion. Emotion is largely linked to mathematics because of the feelings involved with mathematicians or problem-solvers when acquiring mathematical knowledge.
For example, a personal experience is that I have experienced joy and delight at solving a problem and hence acquiring mathematical knowledge. Such an experience can only change an approach one has to acquiring mathematical knowledge when solving a problem again. Mathematics can also produce heated arguments in a discussion of mathematical concepts. In addition, continuous work with mathematical problems can develop a sense of familiarity with the problem-solver as there are patterns that the problem-solver is able to notice.