Discussion in 'Politics' started by Jon, Apr 2, 2017.
Yeah, going around condemning people in the 19th century for not abiding by 21st century morality is a pretty pointless exercise.
Hey pal, our education system isn't that bad.
The problem is you just combined "narrative" and "facts" as if they were the same. They are not. Facts are the tidbits of information, narrative is the story that holds those tidbits in context. My argument is that the tidbits of information hold no dependable information (what I am calling "truth") unless they are understood in context.
Moreover, your definition of history is somewhat off-center, as you are actually defining historiography (then again, the two terms are becoming synonyms anyway). I point this out because as you have written it, a person (let's call him Bob the Historian) doing what you have written is not developing a history, but developing a narrative of their understanding of history. And that is why understanding history as narrative is so important. To try and pull "facts" from Bob the Historian's work is to erroneously ignore Bob's arguments and biases. Thus, Joe the Second Historian creates a simulacrum with little to no referentialism and then, reasserts history in his image.
All of that, however, is secondhand to what I was originally arguing, which is that truth (dependable knowledge) is found in the story, not in the facts. Facts are easily twisted and manipulated to fit whatever is needed. And, inherently, we already know this as is evidenced by phrases commonly heard. "Sure, but what is the whole story." "I'd like to hear your explanation of the facts" ("of the facts" often being unsaid, or replaced by a synonym). "Tell me what happened." etc. Those are all requests not for "the facts" but for the story giving context and thus, the "truth" (as identified above) to facts.
To take this one step further, context is even important in mathematics, at least to some degree, meaning that facts only cannot evidence truth. What do I mean? 1 + 1 = 2 is true only context of a base 3 or more system. In binary coding, 1 + 1 = 10. It is the context in which the fact of 1 and 1 is understood that controls the truth of the fact. The same is true when we assign variables to a letter. It is only in the context of that argument that the fact that X = 3 is true. In the context of the next argument, X very well may not equal 3.
That is the point I was making concerning "truth" in facts vs. "truth" in narrative (again, as I have defined "truth" above).
To bring this back around to what this thread is about, it is the very reason I believe non-Muslims can not read the Koran and state, "Islam believes..." because 99.9 percent of the time, we are pulling out a "fact" despite the overarching narrative that interprets that fact in a manner different from how we are promoting it. Case in point: Kill the Infidel. It is a fact the Koran has this statement. The context, however, is when the Infidel invades Muslim land. The Muslim is to war without reprieve and kill the Infidel until 1, the Infidel has been pushed from their lands, or 2. The Infidel sues for peace. Furthermore, there are methods of interpretation (hermeneutics) applied to the reading of the text that we are also lacking.
tl;dr - "facts" can be whored for any argument. The originating narrative is the control for understand and interpreting the "facts." (And yes, that is another epistemological minefield).
The understanding that a person had of an event is just another element of factual information. Person X understood the event to be this way, so they took Action X. Person Y, however, understood the event to be this other way, so they too Action Y. The objective truth of the matter might be Z, however, and entirely independent of either Persons X or Y's understanding of it.
There is only one Truth, and that is the truth of Perfect Information. That is, understanding all facts of a situation as well as all competing understandings of that situation from all viewpoints. If you know all of that, you can claim to know the truth.
False. Historiography is the study of the history of history. Or further explained, it is the study of how historians use the facts to create the narrative.
(see Princeton Library 's definition)
(I also suggest Carl Becker's article, "What is Historiography" in the American Historical Review if you can find it)
History proper is the facts and what happened. It is the historian's responsibilty to avoid assigning blame.
For examples of Historians:
Fact: The Japanese Bombed pearl harbor.
Fact: Because the Japanese bombed pearl harbor, The United States declared war on the Japanese.
Fact: The United States ended the war with nuclear attacks on Japan.
Fact: Islamic Extremists performed 9/11. (Screw jet fuel melt steel beams theorists)
Fact: After Islamic extremists performed 9/11, the USA invaded Afghanistan.
These are the historical facts and narrative of what happened. I will concede the point that narrative can be used in separate ways, but my use of the term here is simply "what happened."
Examining how historians gathered these facts and told what happened is historiography. Going further,
The instant we begin making statements such as:
Statement: The United States was wrong to use nuclear weapons.
Statement: The United states should not have invaded Afghanistan.
We move beyond history and into the realm of philosophy because we are dealing with ethics.
Regarding context, I fully agree with you. It is the same in the Christian faith. Context of the religious text and studies is vital to begin making any statement regarding them.
That said, it is a sin for a historian to state any person believes something unless they can provide evidence of said person stating that they believe such. And even then, you have to be careful.
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I would agree with you up until claming that you need to have the understandings of all competing views or understandings of a situation to have truth. Truth, in my studies, is universal and independent of human experience.
For example, a toddler believes a vacuum to a monster. I know it is not a monster and it is a vacuum. For me to have the truth that it is a vacuum, I am not required to know that the baby thinks it is a monster.
You are if you claim to know the truth of the baby's motivations for vomiting whenever the vacuum comes into the room.
In a more meaningful example, it's not enough to know that the US nuked Japan. You also need to know why, and that includes what the US believed to be true at the time they made that decision.
Agreed to an extent, but you're changing the scenario. You do not -need- to know why something happened to know that it happened.
While we might -want- to know why the baby vomits or why the USA nuked Japan, it does not change our knowledge that those things happened.
Making claims on motivations is utimately a futile endeavor because you can never truly know another person's mind or reasons for their decision. Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is a brilliant classical novel that examines such things from the mind of a murderer.
We can only find correlations. And correlation does not equal causation.
Yep, and when you sit down and gather narratives and material that has record the even, you are studying the study of history and developing your history from it. Hence, why I said that history and historiography are becoming synonyms. While the rest of your definition is nice in a technical vacuum, the way historians are actually working is much more messy, which is why those lines are getting crossed.
You keep mentioning blame. Perhaps, you're confusing me with another post here, but I have not mentioned blame at all. It has nothing to do with what I am discussing.
And yet, these "facts" are not "truths." The first sentence is timeless. You have written it with the belief that I will attribute a World War II context to the statement. But what if I am thinking 18th century or 19th century? Again, there is no truth without context, and the narrative comes in the context.
To your second statement, you have asserted not a fact, but an opinion. Although the bombing of Pearl Harbor was used as the casus belli, there are many historians that look to Japan's growing empire and threat to the Southern Hemisphere as the reason for declaring war. Hence, in context, the bombing of Pearl harbor is one of the reasons for war, but you must go much further back in history to determine "the reason" which is an ethical determination. Furthermore, doing so puts the historian in danger of inverted causality, and is the reason searching for "causes" to an effect is futile in my opinion. There are two other ways to do so depending on what historical event you are looking at, one of which follows a modified Longue durée (for an excellent example of this method, see Pierre Briant's Histore De L'Empire Perse [I believe it is also in English]. The other method is the one I recently used in my dissertation [We can PM about it if you want, but putting it here might identify me a little too easily if someone every cared to search]).
In that case, there is no argument between us, as "These are the historical facts and narrative of what happened." Is my entire point—you can not use just "facts" to determine anything, as the truth (that which really happened) is found in the narrative.
And that historiography is simple a history of historians. History and historiography are not two separate entities, they are two parts of a continuum, and further removed a person is from the actual event, the more he or she must write a historiography, as they are reporting on others' writing of history and thus, implicitly or explicitly, their ability to gather and work through various stories of the event.
It is the reason behind the postmodern historian's belief that a history book tells the reader more about the author's thoughts of history than it does of the history itself. (For a couple of good readings in this area, see F. R. Ankersmit or Linda Hutcheon, both of whom modified postmodern historiography into a viable methodology using scientific method and referentialism while constantly questioning the same in order to negate bias that often hides behind supposed "objectivity."
Again, I think you're arguing with someone else here, because I'm not at all discussing those things.
While that may be, it is also far from the norm, actually, as history is often put forth as a study of the past to inform the present, which is fraught with ethical assumptions that are often wrong. For instance, check out the movement in historical studies to deny the "No Irish Need Apply" issues of the early 1900s. At one point in the early 2000s, you were laughed at if you even contested "No Irish Need Apply" signs existed. It suddenly got reversed, however, when a 14 year old girl did a google search and found several images and newspapers from the period that had them clearly printed.
Good thoughts. Enjoyable conversing with you.
Looking back over past few pages I did attribute a few claims to you wrongly. My apologies.
~Didn't realise there was another page, forget this post.~
Nothing to add broadly, but I read an interesting summary of the historiography of NINA here .
Separate names with a comma.