• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the roles of language and reason in history

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Discuss the roles of language and reason in history History is often considered as a synonym for truth and certainty. But history is such an area of knowledge that poses a number of deterrents in our quest for knowledge as the knowers cannot discover the past forthwith. This so called remembering the past is no easy nut-it is a complex web rendered difficult to disentangle given that the historical event takes place in the past; it is gone and irrecoverable!. Thus to write a history a historian has to resort to his reason, and obviously the said historian will write the historical accounts in his native language only. Thus language and reason stand as pillars for creating the foundations of history. Reasoning is closely connected with emotion, sense perception and language. In fact language is at the very core of reasoning. Language is a vast unmapped territory fascinating our intelligence and casting spells on our reason. According to ?Max Mueller, there can be no language without reason, and no reason without language?2. Through this essay I would like to elucidate the roles of language and reason in history. My essay will also inquire into if language and reason as ways of knowing can pervert a historical account from the path of truth? If a historian endeavours to explore the past, his step surely is to find out all the possible facts. ...read more.


So can language be considered as a cornerstone for the historians? As a child, I was mesmerized by wars. I read the most bewitching account of war in Homer?s Iliad where he talks about the legendary Trojan War. Was it a war or only a myth? Nothing can be said as Homer derived the epic poem from primeval sources. In the epic, Helen is limned as the most beautiful woman on earth while Achilles as the grandest warrior. Now what can we say as to the authenticity of Homer?s claims? Were the characters for real or it was his national bias to portray them as Hellenic legends? I read the Greek epic through translation only. Did the translator write the exact replication of Homer?s words, or he amalgamated the facts with his presumptions, giving them a hyperbolized touch? Is the epic not twice removed from reality then? Language is not as simple or straightforward as it is considered. Sometimes it becomes very difficult to pin down the meaning of the words with complete precision. Language is neither innocent nor magical, and can be used to manipulate the way we see things. Language can also be used to influence and persuade people. It can sometimes be illusory if the historian uses weasel words or words laden with emotions. Language is power. If it can be used to educate or enlighten people; it can also be used to fuel the flames of hatred. ...read more.


If once we start believing that the French are arrogant and the English cold, we will notice a number of examples that can confirm our prejudice. There is in fact no way we can justify our beliefs even on the basis of experience. In my opinion a historical account based on reason cannot be considered true as reasoning is a complex process and reasoning modes are not universal. Most of the tenets of rationalism have evolved from Greek culture or Confucianism-without any convergence of a single set of common rules. Thus reason is nothing but our faith and faith differs from person to person. My reason says that it was Hector and not Achilles who was the greatest warrior as the former fought for his country while the latter for his pride. But will all agree with me? To conclude I would like to say that although language and reason are very conducive to a historian in his quest for knowledge, they cannot be fully relied on. The historian being a man of flesh and blood may be prone to the venom of pride, prejudice, laziness and ignorance. Truth is stranger than fiction, and the historian may befuddle us through his biased language and imaginative thinking. Before coming under the sway of enticing history we must use our senses and put the historical account to the test of evidence and truth, always keeping in mind that history is nothing but a fable agreed upon. (Napoleon Bonaparte) ( of 5) ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. Discuss the roles of language and reason in history

    If there is no language, there can't be any history at all. Because history is all about the descriptions of things that already happened. But every one has his or her own way of describing and telling things. Have you ever herd two different people telling the same story in two different ways?

  2. TOK History Essay

    Referring to this, Mason largely bases his link of mathematics and language on the reflection of the experience of acquiring mathematical knowledge. Mason states the mathematical experience can often be misinterpreted which means that language is a major barrier in the reflection of experiences.

  1. Discuss the roles of language and reason in history.

    I will be arguing that language and reason do have definitive roles in history. If we are to look at how WW2 may be taught in Germany, we have to perhaps look at Germany's stance on the event now. Indeed a survey in Sarah Ann Gordon's Book Hitler, Germans and

  2. What power does language have

    from what he reads is how he is going to live and pray. One of the most controversial and modern day issues surrounds the status of women in Islam, and the many different perspectives in the Muslim World as to what role gender plays in a persons worth in terms of position, potential, status, and constitution.

  1. Discuss the roles of language and reason in history

    Since teachers use the content from textbooks to teach, the content from textbooks are a form of correct and reliable resource. Furthermore, this deduction is confirmed when we pen down these information that we learnt from the textbooks in an examination and the marker gives it a ?tick?, indicating that

  2. TOK: What are the effects of biased language and unsound reasoning on history?

    For example Mien Kampf is the biography of Adolf Hitler written by Lands- berg Am Lech. The book shows Hitler?s struggle to power. The biographer has given colour to Hitler?s escapades to the best of his capacity using his reason.

  1. Discuss the roles of language and reason in history

    Also, reason is another important factor in making history. Reasoning and rational thinking of man made treaties and wars, and this is what makes history. Therefore, we can see that both language and reasoning play such important and vital roles in history, as without language, how are we to note down history and if there were no reasoning, would there even be history?

  2. Emotions and reason. In this account, we will research what the different schools ...

    It is our emotions. He gave the example that when you help someone, it is your emotions not your reason that tells you to help him. Romanticists believed that one had to be in touch with his emotions in order to improve society, thus rejecting Rationalism and Enlightenment.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work