Language like reason is one of the most important ways of knowing to mankind. Human beings have benefited greatly through language by means of communicating and understanding each other as we read history. Could language as a way of knowing bring us the most suitable type of language? What is language without reason? I treat these as my knowledge issues and will try to bring my aspect and conclusion on the situation. Distinguishing between a terrorist or a freedom fighter can be biased, that biasness is the type of reason that affected you there and then.
Language in history
Some might say History is the study of the past.
The role of language in history is fairly abundant. Many linguists believe that language have a common ancestry, but we still do not know whether language has come from one source, but students of history know from the ancient Greek historian Herodotus that Phrygian is the first coherent language in the history of mankind. It is believed that early humans probably had a communication system similar to animals to contact each other and used body language and calls of various types, but speech did not develop until the human brain evolved enough to enable us to convey ideas to each other.
History is not a record of everything that has happened in the past, history is merely catches the main gist of what supposedly happened in the past. So we can wonder, Could language bring out the most accurate form of history? We can deduce that, if suitable and open minded recorders were the ones that cement history for us, then why should we wonder. But without language as a way of knowing, problems arise and perception would play a dominant role, as being a multifarious way of knowing, many conclusion could deduce on a claim. But without language, reason would not erupt into a form that would proportionally justify perception in the given case above, debates, arguments, justifications, treaties, deals and agreements would not take place as the way we perceive it today. So it would be foolish to think that history would be relevant without language and reason, reasoning is always present and helps us understand in a coherent fashion. Though, problems are that language, alone, can be confusing and can easily be edited in our views, propaganda during the Russian revolution lead people to a perception, that perception manifested into reason and thought/expressions of the socio-economic classes during then were heard.
History has may sources but as the past does not exist, it is difficult to accurately find out about history. For example, if we have evidence such as Stonehenge or the Rosetta stone are parts of our history and we can know to some extent about those periods in our history. But objectivity and accuracy in understanding history are to my mind the real questions which are to be looked at seriously. Historians distinguish primary and secondary sources of information. A primary source is written by a person who was there at the time, while the secondary source is a second hand account of the event. For example, what Socrates wrote and Plato were writing as primary sources, while others who developed on their ideas.
Biases can be created by even eyewitness accounts as a person can exaggerate or use weak language to explain the incident, he may also have a social bias and describe history in a manner that he likes.
In Greek times or when Aztec warriors ruled, we know little about how Greek slaves or peasants lived or how tribal societies carried out their daily lives, even though we have written history about those times. History can be deliberately changed when primary sources are manipulated by interest groups, this brings me to another knowledge issue, Can we trust History? The Russians and Chinese history has been changed by the state and the primary sources of changed. By changing they have used the new history created by them as propaganda to rule their people.
I believe that history is just a monument. A monument of many things, the holocaust was a monument of the horrors that mustn’t be repeated again. History is a secondary source (established data), it is not easy to say that all hundred percent of history is true, it is not my call.
History also creates hindsight bias as events in our own life when seen later makes us question about the mistake we made. To a certain extent, this also distorts history. Bias and language can be a subject bias, confirmation bias or a national bias.
Can language describe historical events in a language that is neutral?
To better understand language, many theories have been developed like, the definition theory, denotation theory and Image theory. These theories segment our way of communicating into partitions, each representing a certain situation that is directly proportional to language. Briefly, the definition theory is based on finding the meaning of words from a dictionary. A problem to this type of language is that some words are very difficult to define properly and are highly multifarious. On the other hand, the Denotation theory tells us how to separate words that have meaning and words that have no meaning. Last – but not least the image theory explains that any word is a mental image in our mind that stands in the mind. Language is complex. It shows us our social reality and no two languages can show the same social reality, that is what the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis states.
Languages create different trends in our social reality. In the age of technology and how it is rapidly growing, it becomes a bit overwhelming. Language creates barriers but also creates entries. When I read about news in magazines, in news paper or TV, the same issue can be shown in many different ways. Politics especially, I as a teenager and a member of the future generation of this world; reading politics of the Middle East, the Kashmir problem or the Afghan war can mean many things when read in English or Urdu. It all ends up to your social reality and your reason with a clear view on society itself. Language causes confusion and this confusion conveys specific thoughts, these thought s are planted on the different views in the world today. These views, even with so much knowledge and theories, leads to hatred and misunderstandings, thus leading to wars and bloodshed or could lead to a world that would represent something that would be found in “The Beatles” lyrics. Language provides accuracy in life, definitions of words and phrases like “war on terror”, “fanatics”, “collateral damage” means differently to the different social reality (rule governed by language) and are contested in various forms and has been, previously in the future.
To an extent history has affected me in some ways, views on society today and the changing trends of mentioned above I also agree that language and reason plays a big role in the history we know today.
Reason and history as a way of knowing
Reason is segmented into one of the four ways of knowing for a very good reason. We know that reason is a difficult word to define, because it is based on various premises, basis on which various conclusions are drawn. Reason is like a knife, which has two edges and both sides can cut equally well as both knife edges are sharp. We also know that reason cannot be used in every situation, especially in our private lives, where emotion also plays an important a role, which cannot be defined by reason alone. Sometimes reason can be balanced with emotion and sometimes it cannot be balanced.
There are three kinds of reasoning:
deductive reasoning is based on syllogism which states two premises (logical arguments) and a conclusion is then drawn. But we know all truth is not valid, if the argument is true or false, the conclusion can be true or false and may not be valid. Therefore, this argument is built on incorrect logic and the syllogism is false. We can conclude that arriving at the right conclusion our argument is dependent on the truth or falsity of the premises (logic) it contains. Deductive logic must be handled with care to arrive at the correct conclusion.
Inductive logic is the opposite of deductive logic and is based on from the particular to the general. Inductive reasoning can be explained by an example: I am born from my mother. We can conclude that human beings are born from females, because all statistical evidence leads us to this conclusion. This example can be called inductive inference (conclusion). All languages are based on inductive generalizations, for example, teacher, dog or table can be classified into general classes and then labeled. From languages we inherit history of human thought about how the world is organized. Most sciences use inductive reasoning to formulate laws and theories. For example, if carbon-dioxide causes green house effect, therefore carbon-dioxide emitted by any form will lead to ozone reduction in the atmosphere. Scientists use this type of logic to explain reasoning and reach conclusions.
Informal reasoning is based “after this, therefore accounted of this”, it means that because one thing B follows another thing A, then A must be a cause of B. For example, more murders are committed in hot weather; it means that weather is the only factor that affects increase in murder. Informal reasoning is based on co-relation in two things and can be correct or incorrect if the premise is valid.
While the three types of reasoning cannot answer all questions relating to knowledge, they do provide us a basis on which we can understand our world and ourselves better but one way of reasoning is not sufficient to define all things in a logical manner. Our reasoning is also affected by circular reasoning, false analogy, loaded questions and many other biases. Bad reasoning is based on four main reasons:
Reason gives man the greatest ability to understand and predicts things related to him with certainty. This gives that specific kind of coherency that exists in the world today. We see, thus we reason – Timothy Rath. History is rooted with reason, it regards human nature and the human intellect that goes hand in hand.
What really shapes History are the winners. The people in charge. They get to have their stories told, they get to decide what goes to the public and what doesnt. Imagine if Germany had won the second world war. Our view of the holocaust would be much different wouldn’t it? Maybe the general populace may not have even been told of their existance. And if we take a look at Stalin and his attempts to remove people from history (altering photos, deleting records of existance), we can see that the people up there have the power to feed us whatever they want. And that was back then, when there was no photoshop. Just imagine the technology they have in their hands today. And that is why there are countries that are so suspicious of others learning of their past, that they do anything to keep them quiet, going as far as to kill them.
As a more recent example, does anyone know of Andijon? I wouldnt be surprised if you didn’t, partially because it is in Uzbekistan and to be honest i didn’t know that was a country until i got off a plane one day and ended up living there. To be fair, i was about 11 and my knowledge of the geography was kind of limited. Anyways, the Andijon massacres (sometime in 2006) have been described by the UN to be “possibly the greatest massacre since Tienanmen square”. So why haven’t you heard of it? Because the government of Uzbekistan are brilliant at keeping people out and censoring things. Even killed a journalist that fled to another country after writing an article criticizing