Discuss the Roles of Language and Reason in History

Topics: Logic, Reasoning, Reason Pages: 5 (1710 words) Published: May 30, 2013
TOK- Essay
Question 9 “Discuss the roles of language and reasoning in history” 1451 words
Nadia Lotze
000 865-015
Mr Skeoch

History is the past written by the present. The very nature of this statement creates the predicament of historical knowledge. The historians of the present are under constant pressure of rapidly changing society; therefore what we discover from the past is dependent on our perceptions that are forever changing. History and historical explanations are deduced and manipulated by the two ways of knowing, language and reasoning. The role of language in history is very important, because history is written, presented and illustrated to people through language. Reasoning is also an important factor in history; through reasoning historian create a historical record and decipher as logically possible a conclusion. In this essay, the roles and the importance of language and reasoning in history will be explored and to what extent they both help and hinder the pursuit of historical knowledge. The role of reasoning allows us to deduce a “logical” explanation, in this case from historical fact and to decipher an explanation and if possible a conclusion of past events through means of a rational approach. When unravelling truth in areas of knowledge such as in history it is said that this process should be governed by ‘the thought that reason rules the world’ (Hegel). This is very important because to try and reason facts and evidence into historical knowledge and objective perspective must be taken. Thus, reasoning creates a historical record and only through reasoning can we try to gain a valid conclusion of a certain event. Through both deductive and inductive reasoning, history considers the evidence and facts and rationally deduces a truthful conclusion of the events. Reasoning is needed in the search for historical knowledge because it is the most reliable out of the four ways of knowing and only through reasoning we can try to gain a valid conclusion of a certain event. However, a pure logical reasoning is not always fully successful because reasoning is very much influenced through other ways of knowing such as emotion, perception and language. For example I'm sure we all remember believing in Santa and this is because in our child like minds we logically understood why he existed. We were told not only by our parents but by society about his existence, we’ve seen him in my local shopping mall and every Christmas I remember received a phone call from him, not noticing my father was never around the same time, I never questioned it. This is because through reasoning all the facts I was faced with the conclusion that he existed only seemed logical at the time. Consequently reasoning is also influenced by how much we know and how much we are told, so who controls the facts? This is why it is very important to remember that, “History is the past seen through the eyes of the present and we in the present are changing therefore what we make out of the past changes” History is written by the winners,

"Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past” (George Orwell, 1984). *** Humankind’s reasoning and logical understanding of the past changes as we approach the future because our understanding of the world changes as we are constantly faced with new perspectives and discoveries. The importance of language is that it determines thought; language controls thought and thought controls language. Knowledge and the attempt to understand truth depends on language and without it the important truths that lie in life cannot be passed on or even disputed or reasoned within history. This raises the question if the truth or even if history would actually exist without language? The construction of words provides us with certain control on the emotion, perception and reasoning wished to be associated and conveyed with a piece of historical information. Consequently, the...
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