The growth of post-modernism and its adherers in historical circles have caused quite a stir in dealing with the validity of many historical documents. Critical analysis of the subject of modernism and post-modernism can be simplified in one statement: What is our understanding of certainty?The modern critical analysis form is an ideal philosophy of industrialism, an ideology that adopts the correspondence theory. Facts are unbiased descriptions of past events that assist one in gaining knowledge. Since facts have consequences, modernists believe facts are not debatable. The core of modern critical analysis relies on facts to move towards a higher level of understanding (“Truth”).
The push for facts to achieve a higher level of knowledge teaches and supports the value of HISTORY (history in the upper-case). Historical analysis in the modern form describes history as it is made by the use of facts. The common goal for modern historians is to find HISTORY, truth, and moral rights by methodically deducing facts and past events. By such ways, the truthful understanding of the past makes history useful for us in the present.
In post-modern critical analysis, its philosophy lies in the critiquing the false in modernism. Truth/fact is merely a socially constructed ideal dependent on the context in which it is used connotative meanings. Post-modernists debunk the importance of fact due to limited personal perspectives. Since each person could have numerous perspectives on issues, the shear number would constitute the many facts once could have. Opposed to the modernist philosophy reflecting Western history, post-modernism follows an Eastern eclectic form of what history might be.
In relation to historical analysis, post-modernism raises the importance of context. Truth/fact is dependent on the time, place and the observer. Post-modernists see many historical documents as a narrative, stories in which their validity is questionable and thus it cannot be completely true. For the record, I am a modernist with some post-modernist ideals.
Modern critical analysis of history appears to be more fathomable than post-modernism. To look at the world around us objectively correlates events with reality, and gives meaning to why things happen and to prevent bad things from repeating in the future. Modernist thought gives reasoning for the events that take place. However, everything written as truth or fact should not be taken as so. Post-modernism opens the door for new ideas to flourish by way of erasing the subject/object dichotomy. The truth is no longer objective, but rather everything is subjective.
If one were to describe issues by staunchly following post-modern critical analysis, meanings would be lost or pointless. As a high school teacher, the post-modernist philosophy would be a hard to grasp concept for most students. History textbooks, which are mainly written in modernist form, sometimes over glorify what the author perceives to be important persons or events. The importance of persons and events should be balanced by opposing viewpoints and background information. For example, if the textbook used in the class puffed up the significance of the founding fathers, I would counteract what is said in the book by downplaying their importance, and noting their flaws.
For the high school level, the modernist history book works fine because it provides great lessons in morality. Students do not need to hear post-modernist views on history unless it involves the glorification of one minority over another. Only then does a student need a clearer understanding of contextual truth.Bibliography: