Thus, we conclude and interpret truth to be all these information that is presented by historians. Although we do not know who is Hiter, yet based on certain ways of knowing such as language and reason, we know that he is bad and he wants to wage a war. However, there are some drawbacks on using language as a way of knowing to understand the past. Language, by nature, is highly ambiguous and most historians have their own style of writing and tend to write in a single perspective that they are in favor of or are subjected to.
There is no doubt that a British historian would report on events in favor of Britain while a Russian historian would report in favor of Russia. In the Anglo-Russian war, newspaper reports from the two countries differed as to which country was responsible for the outbreak of this war that lasted from 1807-1812. Hence, this shows that the views that historians often present to us in textbooks are often subjective to personal opinion. Being presented with two differing perspectives on the war, it becomes hard to distinguish and interpret which report is the truth as well as which country was the trigger for the war.
With that subjective information, we can only conclude and understand that there was a war between Britain and Russia from 1807 to1812. Furthermore, using reason as a way of knowing to interpret the truth also has its limitations despite the fact that many rationalists might believe that it is the way to get to the truth and reality. In today’s society, there are so many ways of reasoning and it often leads to people believing that their reasons are valid. Yet, more often than not, people do not reason accurately, resulting in a fallacy. Subconsciously, historians commit the Ad ignorantiam fallacy without themselves knowing it.
For example, in Nazi textbooks, it claims that Hitler was the best ruler and brought economic prosperity to Germany. Yet, the Jews living in Germany would beg to differ. However, despite these differing claims, no one can go back in time to find out the truth and this is why Ad ignorantium mostly applies to the issue of reasoning in history. In addition, deductive and inductive reasoning can be doubted too. Using the previous example of Hitler, the conclusion that we derived about him may not be the truth after all. Firstly, our premises in deductive reasoning are assumed. How sure are we that all wars are bad? Who can define what is “bad”?
Secondly, this applies to inductive reasoning too. Singapore, for example, introduced conscription for defense purposes and certainly not to wage a war. Hence, with this anomaly, it makes the entire claim that “rulers that introduce conscription want to wage a war” wrong and thus the induction that “Hitler introduced conscription, it means that he wanted to wage a war” becomes wrong too. As such, we are able to see that both ways of knowing, language and reason, have their own drawbacks and only aids us to gain an understanding of the past but the information that is presented may be falsified and deemed unjustified truth.
Despite limits in language and reason, they are still no doubt fundamental in providing us with knowledge about the past. After all, historians still utilize language and reason as ways of knowing to write historical records. Although two different perspectives are being presented, there is a chance that both views might be correct depending on the country itself. Imagine that I failed an exam and I blamed it on the teacher for teaching the wrong thing to me, causing me to answer the questions wrongly and this happens to be true.
However, the teacher would definitely not admit his fault and claim that the reason why I failed the exam was because I did not study hard enough and this happens to be true too. Hence, from this example, it is evident that both parties can be telling the truth and therefore, the information that historians present to us, although different, would indeed aid us in our understanding of the past and our interpretation of the truth. On the other hand, the doubts that arise from reason are quite abstract in nature but in the real world, to doubt and abandon logic, the whole structure of knowledge would collapse.
Hence, these forms of reasoning are a norm and what society conforms to and hence, truth becomes what the majority perceives it to be. All in all, language and reason would indefinitely aid us in our understanding of the past and perhaps, an interpretation of the truth about the past. From this discussion, we can see that language and reason play a significant role in analyzing the past and presenting an interpretation of the truth. Much of the evidence produced are so greatly crafted and portrayed with such logical reasoning and accurate language that one feels that it must be true even though it is hard to believe due to high subjectivity.
Yet, on the other hand, examples of fallacies in reasoning and propaganda in language are said to be misleading us from the truth. Nonetheless, it is up to our perception and beliefs to interpret what really happened in the past as every individual has their own mental maps and perceive things differently.
(1588 words) 1Virginia Woolf , New York Times, 18th August 2012 , web , date accessed: 18th August 2012 , http://www. nytimes. com/books/first/n/nicolson-woolf. html.