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Nov10/May11 #9 "Discuss the roles of language and reason in history."

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I have chosen to do essay title number 9, which states: Discuss the role of language and reason in history. My main claim on this title is that when language is manipulated, it affects the individual's ability to reason. This is by the means of teaching (Canadian teacher will usually mainly teach the Canadian perspective on WWII, so other perspectives unknown) and by the means of propaganda (manipulative language controls the person's ability to reason, such as in North Korea, WWII in Germany, US and Canada). But I am having difficulty coming up with counter-claims without sounding redundant.I am also having difficulty thinking of a third claim I can make. I thought of communcations problems (Japanese person's views on Hiroshima, written in Japanese, translated into English will sometimes not mean the same thing), but it does not seem too strong.

Help?

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I think you can expand on the flaws of language. It's a medium or filter where thoughts and ideas are passed from one person to another. However, it's really hard to get the same, exact thought into the other person's mind because of ambiguity often. You're saying communications problems seems weak as an argument. I disagree. I think it's extremely potent. The words we choose have different connotations. Flatter and praise are synonyms, but they have different meanings to people as a whole, to people in different societies, and to individuals as well. Plus Descartes argued that rhetoric and figurative language distort original meaning. How does this all relate to history? You've pointed it out already. For history IAs, we evaluate our sources to uncover any hidden agendas or possible biases. A textbook from different parts of the world will have different perspectives. The main counter for your argument would be that history is history, and whatever happened happened. We can't change what happened just by teachings something different. And it's an interesting point. If you've read 1984, it's a very interesting point. And I believe that Stalin made his citizens believe that Russians had invented the radio and airplane. They believed it, but it's not like their belief changed reality. So the counter, on that ground, could deal with truth, if you want to go there.

Oh yeah. Try to use examples from your personal life. Try to be original but ground in reality. Power hungry dictator examples are usually trite :)

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I have chosen to do essay title number 9, which states: Discuss the role of language and reason in history. My main claim on this title is that when language is manipulated, it affects the individual's ability to reason. This is by the means of teaching (Canadian teacher will usually mainly teach the Canadian perspective on WWII, so other perspectives unknown) and by the means of propaganda (manipulative language controls the person's ability to reason, such as in North Korea, WWII in Germany, US and Canada). But I am having difficulty coming up with counter-claims without sounding redundant.I am also having difficulty thinking of a third claim I can make. I thought of communcations problems (Japanese person's views on Hiroshima, written in Japanese, translated into English will sometimes not mean the same thing), but it does not seem too strong.

Help?

Well you don't really have a counterclaim to what you've said because it's kinda true. If you manipulate language it does affect an individual's ability to reason. The only thing I can think of which would "counter" what you've said is that manipulating language doesn't always affect your ability to reason, just the product of your reasoning. Reason is along the lines of A. B. Therefore A then B. and that sort of thing. Whilst things like skewed views might make you weigh evidence in a particular light, for instance if you think the Canadians were saintly people who couldn't commit war crimes, came across some evidence of torture (completely making this up by the way!!!) and then moved on because your reason told you this was not possible based on propaganda and the way you've been taught... well that would be skewing your reasoning, because it might make you say A. B. But hang on a sec, not possibly A then B!!. However you can still reason logically from false premises, so even if you were fed false information by language, your actual ability to reason isn't necessarily impaired, only the outcome of your reason. So unless what you know has skewed the whole way you think about things, it could still be falsely manipulated language but your reasoning could still be logically A. B. Therefore A then B., if that makes sense.

As for a third claim, being honest I think you're approaching the question slightly wrongly. Firstly I think you've gone largely for "how language affects the way we reason in history", but the question is actually the role of language and reason in history. Not language affecting reason, but language and reason separately. Admittedly they do cross over which is an important point, but I'm 100% there's loads to be said about both separately! Remember TOK people are largely obsessed with "how we know what we know". They want to know how (aka the "role") language and reason help us find knowledge in history. That's what you should aim for.

Also, I couldn't see a second claim in what you said...?

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So you are suggesting that I have one claim with language and its role in history and one claim with reason and its role in history? I can see how that makes sense. As well, I worded the title afterwards into a question so that it would be easier to see where the essay was meant to go and I came up with the main claim: The use of language influences one’s ability to reason, thus changing their perspective on historical events. Maybe this makes more sense? So my claims would be that when evidence is gathered to write a textbook, that writer might see the evidence in a different way that we would and use their reasoning to make a judgment on the event. So when a student goes onto to read the textbook and it says that Canada was a lot stronger than the Germans at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and that's why they won, that's what the student will think. The Germans may have been equally as strong, but the way the book is written, it does not imply that. I actually do have a personally historical example for this, if it makes sense.

My second claim was about propaganda and going back to the whole dictator tells people something and they believe it without doubting or questioning or reasoning.

I think my arguments make sense, but my main claim does not.

Thanks again for the help.

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For my TOK essay I have chosen to do number 9, "the role of language and reason in history". I have it planned out and know what i am going to write about but am stuck >.<

how do i actually define language and reason in a philosophical way?

Please help

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First off, you have to make a plan, a very clear one, stating what you're going to put in each paragraph, especially the introduction. Some of my friends used definition from philosophy book then refrenced it, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Don't leave such a thing confuse you and make everything else seem so hard. :D

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That's a good way to go. What I would do is try to define them using examples, because sometimes a straight-up word definition can pose restrictions. It works well for some questions, not so well for others. There are many ways to tackle ToK, and anything can work if you put enough planning and thought into it.

Good luck. :D

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For my TOK essay I have chosen to do number 9, "the role of language and reason in history". I have it planned out and know what i am going to write about but am stuck :)

how do i actually define language and reason in a philosophical way?

Please help

If it helps, you can do the whole essay and never define them at all :D You won't be penalised for it, just launch into their roles rather than discussing them. It'll also maximise the amount you can write :D

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I have chosen this topic too. And I was wondering how we can actually take reason and language separately? I am a little confused. It seems as if the question here askes us to discuss how the language has a role on the history. But then I can't link it with reason. :P

help?

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I have chosen this topic too. And I was wondering how we can actually take reason and language separately? I am a little confused. It seems as if the question here askes us to discuss how the language has a role on the history. But then I can't link it with reason. :P

help?

I don't know if I've misread what you've said, but you're meant to be discussing

1. the role of language in history

2. the role of reason in history

Not the role of language where it combines with reason in history. I'm sure you can think of ways we use reason in history! :D Just think of propaganda, how we fill in the gaps in knowledge, how we interpret and identify biased sources, how we deal with artefacts and reconstruct things in archaeology etc. I'm sure language and reason may overlap in some respects, but if you're stuck because you think you have to discuss them combined, you don't have to! (:

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Question..

im doing my tok essay on this topic too

is it just me or does this look similar to the tok questions last year 'What similarities and differences are there between historical and scientific explanations?'

because i did this as a practice tok essaay at school and i discussed some of the knowledge issues related to language in historical explanations, but realized i didnt say a thing about reason. and i dont really get what propoganda has to do with reasoning . can you explain it again please?

Thank you!

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Propaganda affects reasoning and one's ideas - so instead of a neutral point of view of a situation; propaganda brings forth an idea that someone wants everyone else to think. As a result the general idea is that people's opinions are altered to the propaganda which change in course of history from what we know today.

You could look at Hitler, Spanish Civil War and many other historical events.

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When we're explaining how language is used in history can we give an example like this?

-for example in any war instead of using 'killed' people use 'neutralized'.this prevents people to panic.

the reason behind it would be to keep the society under control.

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When we're explaining how language is used in history can we give an example like this?

-for example in any war instead of using 'killed' people use 'neutralized'.this prevents people to panic.

the reason behind it would be to keep the society under control.

I think we are meant to focus on history as an area of knowing, not on how language and reason have affected the course of history as such. I found this post (http://www.toktalk.net/2009/12/20/linking-questions-history-and-ways-of-knowing/) very helpful, will probably be using it myself when I start writing this essay.

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question..

can I said that when we reasoning in history we are always be influence by our emotions?

for example during the invasion of Japan in Pearl Harbour, the Americans will think differently about the Japanese kamikaze. And the Japanese at their country will also think differently about their soldiers. They will think the Japanese had sacrifice themselves and it is an honour for their country. but the Americans will think another ways. tq

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I am trying to write my outline for this topic and i am stuck.

Could someone please give me what they think a brief outline for this topic might be? with examples on how language impacts history and then how reason impacts history?

Thank you so much. You will be a lifesaver.

Edited by Jessica0222

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When we're explaining how language is used in history can we give an example like this?

-for example in any war instead of using 'killed' people use 'neutralized'.this prevents people to panic.

the reason behind it would be to keep the society under control.

I think we are meant to focus on history as an area of knowing, not on how language and reason have affected the course of history as such. I found this post (http://www.toktalk.net/2009/12/20/linking-questions-history-and-ways-of-knowing/) very helpful, will probably be using it myself when I start writing this essay.

I agree, but I'm still not sure if I should write about history as a way of knowing or how history has been affected by language and reason. Theres definietly not enough room to talk about both so it appears necessary to pick one and stick with it. Anyone else have an opinon?

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Guest Frozen Camel

I have chosen to do essay title number 9, which states: Discuss the role of language and reason in history. My main claim on this title is that when language is manipulated, it affects the individual's ability to reason. This is by the means of teaching (Canadian teacher will usually mainly teach the Canadian perspective on WWII, so other perspectives unknown) and by the means of propaganda (manipulative language controls the person's ability to reason, such as in North Korea, WWII in Germany, US and Canada). But I am having difficulty coming up with counter-claims without sounding redundant.I am also having difficulty thinking of a third claim I can make. I thought of communcations problems (Japanese person's views on Hiroshima, written in Japanese, translated into English will sometimes not mean the same thing), but it does not seem too strong.

Help?

hey i chosed this title as well 8-)

yeah well language influences the way in which we think and conclude and this has to deal with the reason. way in which human kind reason, creates history and history is nothing else than series of past events ^_^ so pay attention when you want to emphasize that and be sure your claims are clearly stated. though in my opinion, people use ideology in order to influence the reason by using appropriate language. yeah, you can link that with other areas of knowledge such as paradigm or ethics. however be careful. I had to literaly POINT on every single paragraph when i was actually defending my work (1st draft). tok teachers really like to bug by repeating: nothing is assumed and bla bla bla bla things that make you feel sick about the schooling system itself. :P

good luck :P

btw, there is no need of using definitions in TOK essay, according to the last feedbacks that were sent by examiners :) personal opinion is the only thing that matters here :proud:

Edited by Marsupilami

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I think the point that's been made about assessing the role of language THEN reasoning is important. You shouldn't change the question or "statement" and put reasoning under language. Its the good point but should not be the direction your essay is going.

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It's really important to remember that, as someone said before me, we're supposed to focus on history as an area of knowledge. So this question is really asking, How do we use reason and language to know things about history? Or, how does the historian use reason and language? Remember, this is Theory of Knowledge, where the focus is on figuring out how we know what we know. You're supposed to make theoretical claims or arguments about the use of reason and language in history, and then support them with examples. The examples will involve specifics of history, but historical events should NOT be the focus of the essay.

I think that it's OK to talk about how language and reason work together. IB presented the TOK diagram and ways/areas of knowing as circular diagrams where everything is interconnected. They like to hear that stuff. But you probably should discuss reason and language separately, too. That's what I'm doing, since I feel like there's some situations in the study of history where they have to work together

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