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Southwestern Oklahoma State University firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you, Professor Brown for commenting on my post. If there is a universal value (the "universality of an ideology") through which to interpret historical texts, behaviors, etc. it must be critical, accountable, use reason, and respect the freedom and dignity of the individual. I believe we try to evaluate and negotiate diverse practices in this way already in our interactions with varieties of cultural behaviors and ideologies with which we share the present. It is possible to be critical and open minded in our teaching and our research while adhering to moral guidelines. I agree with you the devil is in the details. So please indulge my attempt here to briefly summarize how to confront such devils. In the classroom, we can begin with a historical moment, an event, an activity, a document (your "decision" or "ideology"). For example: Leader: The (historical, ie, Medieval or other) Law states that a woman charged (with a crime) should be thrown into the water to see if she floats. Floating or not floating shall determine her guilt or innocence. On what premise did they (the historical agents) base this law? Student: On the basis that is what they believed. Leader: Who believed what? Student: The lawmakers believed floating shows her innocent or guilty. Leader: How could floating demonstrate guilt in a crime not related to floating or sinking? Student: God would reveal His decision through nature. Leader: On what basis would the Lawmakers construct such a procedure? Student: They believed in it. Leader: Is there anything more to this than belief? Student: It may have served their political purposes. But other than that, only belief. There is no evidence or real argument to what they are doing. But it is what they believed, so for them it was true. We cannot judge them. Leader: When you say "they", are you confident the accused shared these beliefs? Or might the accused have found these "tests" to have been flawed? Student: She might have but for the Lawmakers, it is what they believed and so it was for them, true (real, right, etc.). And they had the power! Leader: How do you mean this was "true for them"? Student: Because if they believed it, then her guilt was true for them. Leader: Is guilt and innocence so relative that she will be in fact guilty simply because they believe her guilty? Student: In their minds, yes. Leader: But in her mind? And, more importantly in your mind? Student: It doesn't matter what I believe about this. Leader: You are alive. You have opinions. You have influence in your own world. Do you believe any person's guilt or innocence can be reasonably tested in this way? Student: Probably not. Leader: Why not? Student: Because there is no real evidence. Leader: Do our modern systems of justice make similarly "belief based" decisions? Student: Not here, no. Leader: Are you sure about this? ...