Monday, November 10, 2014

Examples of historical investigation and inferences

An interpretation of the passage in Sojourner Truth, when she hangs her basket from a tree because of the snakes, might be a good example to discuss and analyze historical understanding in terms of the knowledge acquisition. How does the partial understanding drive the questions we ask and the exploration of the sources?

Historical inference itself is then reasoning over such knowledge, to the best explanation, where the fitness function is biased toward the use of local sources over universals. This is true because the temporal delineation between the applicability of the long timed entities is an argument from ignorance: it did not change because we know of no such change.

However that bias function or scoring function is complex, because there are issues such as degree of agency. Taking the example of Sidney Rigdon: In his appreciation for revelation and visions he seems truncated if these are mapped onto manic depression or the horseback riding accident---a Robert Owen explanation rather than a Alexander Campbell explanation. In Rigdon's self-estimation as the key contribution to the merging of the Baptist churches in Pittsburgh in 1824, his agency is oversold, by himself, neglecting at minimum the influences of the Christian Baptist or Walter Scott. Thus, the scoring function needs to balance external vs internal motivations and possibilities. People are inspired, but not dominated or determined---that is a difficult heuristic. 

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