History and Reason

Claim : Historical facts should help understand the past, not judge (subjectively evaluate) it. The way events have unfolded in our shared Universe is a singularity, it calls for no mortal judgement! The prediction of a future, however, can be true/right if it happens and false/wrong if it doesn’t. Thus, it is the natural (and perhaps only) ground for our tools of subjective evaluations. Informed evaluations however, must follow some reasoning process (Lord Bayes’ probably says : There must be Reasons to choose your reason!). The Reasons for one’s choice of reasoning procedure are informed historical facts … and this is exactly what it means to understand the past, that is the ability to reason with them.

Implications : The following statements would then be void:
1. We, as humanity, should not have done that.
2. We, as some society, should not have done that.
3. I should not have done that.

Consistency Question (CQ) : People have most certainly always made judgements about the past. They surely can’t be wrong, how do we understand this ‘historical fact’?
– Its highly likely that people have judged the past to sub-consciously build their prior beliefs and hence make better guesses for the future. They either see activities repeated the same way as they were in the past and induce their consequences, or take high prior statements as facts and deduce their consequences. Then they evaluate the desirability of the Consequences of the predicted consequence, and with the same (observer-centric) subjective lens evaluate their past.

Understanding CQ : The conscious understanding of historical facts must consist of ability to reason about it given past historical events and reason from it about future events. In other words, we should be able to see historical facts fitting in a consistent or ‘reasonable’ causal relationship with other facts, where the word ‘reasonable’ can be unpacked by invoking other historical facts.

Praful Gagrani

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