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Default History's obsession with maniacs

October 15th, 2013, 12:38
I've posted here and there that I simply cannot understand gorification and recognition of people who's really only deed was do as may atrocities as possible through the past.
And I've stumbled upon a certain article on huffingtonpost:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/1…n_4079674.html

Am I a total idiot not understanding the need to give a holiday to such man, or is the problem in the society itself? Usually the problem should be in me. But in this case, I honestly can't even imagine how can you glorify a common child laborer. Who didn't stop just at making slaves from (your if you lived back then!) kids.

Oh he had charisma. He was charming probably and upped his sweettalk and sucking up skills. But he was practically stealing from, mutilating and torturing human beings. And the society takes that as something positive?
Please help me understand this. Or perhaps, this can't be understood or the society loves it's pure ignorance.

All I know is that I don't want to hear, read or see anything about that man ever again. Unless it's about his crimes.

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October 15th, 2013, 13:31
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/columbus_day

I guess, being simple minds, we are simply given to create and drawn to iconic "figures" that embody a certain period or historical turning point. Real historians of course look beyond that, but it's simpler to learn "Columbus" as the answer to "Who discovered America?" rather than "What do you mean? The first humans probably arrived >15000 years ago. From Europe, Vikings probably arrived in north america around the year 1000 AD. Columbus discoveries however mark the beginning of the modern colonial era, however his main discoveries were just the Carribean islands, and he never reached North America…. etc."
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October 15th, 2013, 13:38
Since I have to view all human beings as equal - I don't really agree with any kind of glorification or condemnation.

To condemn a human being - there would have to be certainty and understanding of the potential alternatives. As in, if someone develops into a murderer - we would have to establish with certainty that there was an alternative - given the physical/genetic makeup as well as the upbringing and the environment.

Since I don't believe it's possible to gain that level of insight about any human being - I don't believe in glorifying or condemning people.

I can support an action and I can speak against an action - but I can't glorify or condemn anyone.
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October 16th, 2013, 11:14
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Since I have to view all human beings as equal.
OK, trying to understand this 'equal', because from birth:
- No two people have the same personality
- No two people have the same mental capabilities
- No two people have the same physical capabilities
- No two people have the same emotional capabilities

And so on … so from basic criteria, NO human beings are equal. Because of what makes them individuals. From the very early stages you will see expressed personalities, charisma, and other traits that have nothing to do with 'nurture', and definitely have an impact on interactions with others and the outcomes of others.

So I am interested in the context around what you mean?

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October 16th, 2013, 12:05
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
OK, trying to understand this 'equal', because from birth:
- No two people have the same personality
- No two people have the same mental capabilities
- No two people have the same physical capabilities
- No two people have the same emotional capabilities

And so on so from basic criteria, NO human beings are equal. Because of what makes them individuals. From the very early stages you will see expressed personalities, charisma, and other traits that have nothing to do with 'nurture', and definitely have an impact on interactions with others and the outcomes of others.

So I am interested in the context around what you mean?
I'm not talking about being identical - as I'd have to be quite an idiot to propose something so stupid. I'm talking about value vs potential.

But it's simple.

Unless you have a surefire way to establish the world society "value" (combined benefit as well as the combined harm) a single human being is responsible for from the beginning of life to the end of life - taking into account every single option available to that person - there's no way to reasonably condemn or glorify a human being as a whole.

Because it's impossible - the only logical conclusion is that you have to assume that human beings are equal in that way. That doesn't mean they actually ARE equal - it just means you acknowledge your own lack of insight, based on our natural limited ability to know everything about a human being for certain.

Essentially, we can't know the value vs potential of anyone - not even ourselves. So my approach is to not talk about value - because I realise I can't do that with any kind of certainty at all.
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October 16th, 2013, 12:43
OK, got what you are saying.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Unless you have a surefire way to establish the world society "value" (combined benefit as well as the combined harm) a single human being is responsible for from the beginning of life to the end of life - taking into account every single option available to that person - there's no way to reasonably condemn or glorify a human being as a whole.
But then wouldn't that apply to *everything*? I mean, since we cannot with absolute certainty establish everything about the an orange and a elephant and their world impact and value, are we to assume them equal?

I know it is an absurdist example, but the one you posit reminds me a bit too much of the people who say that 'research studies sometimes contradict … so science can't be trusted'. It is an assumption that in the absence of a totality of knowledge we assume zero knowledge … which to me seems bizarre.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Because it's impossible - the only logical conclusion is that you have to assume that human beings are equal in that way. That doesn't mean they actually ARE equal - it just means you acknowledge your own lack of insight, based on our natural limited ability to know everything about a human being for certain.
Again I go back to physical sciences - there are many astronomical and nano-scale things we cannot measure … but what we CAN measure is the reaction of things around the thing we want to measure. And by doing so we actually learn much about the thing we cannot measure or perhaps even see. It is the social science equivalent of getting the 'what' but never knowing the 'why' or 'how'. For some that is enough, for others it is meaningless.

So while we cannot know a totality about any one person, we can reasonably state that the same historical speech given by 1000 of different people in the original circumstances would have resulted in hundreds of different outcomes.

And if we can agree on that fairly basic concept, then we must reject your null hypothesis. In other words, while we cannot prove the nature of an individual, it is easy to prove that they cannot be assumed to be equal - because of the 'what' that we can observe. Not that THAT is enough to fully celebrate or demonize someone …

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October 16th, 2013, 12:53
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
But then wouldn't that apply to *everything*? I mean, since we cannot with absolute certainty establish everything about the an orange and a elephant and their world impact and value, are we to assume them equal?
The reason we have to assume them equal is that the alternative is that one is worth more and the other less. To do that, you have to be able to quantify their value in a meaningful way - and you can't do that.

Yes, and why would you need to establish the value of an elephant and an orange?

That's really my basic question. Why do we feel the need to condemn or glorify that which we don't truly understand?

I know it is an absurdist example, but the one you posit reminds me a bit too much of the people who say that 'research studies sometimes contradict … so science can't be trusted'. It is an assumption that in the absence of a totality of knowledge we assume zero knowledge … which to me seems bizarre.
You can "trust" science because our pragmatic reality requires us to function in the society we have established for ourselves. But you don't have to go around condemning or glorifying science. You can just accept that you don't really know for certain - and that you're open to science not being objective truth.

I can do that without much trouble.

Again I go back to physical sciences - there are many astronomical and nano-scale things we cannot measure … but what we CAN measure is the reaction of things around the thing we want to measure. And by doing so we actually learn much about the thing we cannot measure or perhaps even see. It is the social science equivalent of getting the 'what' but never knowing the 'why' or 'how'. For some that is enough, for others it is meaningless.
We believe we can measure something according to our own systems and our own limited perception (unless you know that our perception is flawless).

Again, by all means measure and assume if you feel you have to - but don't confuse that with objective truth.

About human beings. If you feel comfortable condemning someone or glorifying someone - whilst being fully aware that you can't actually know their value - then we just differ on that. I find that to be an ignorant and highly dangerous position.

I could never support that.

So while we cannot know a totality about any one person, we can reasonably state that the same historical speech given by 1000 of different people in the original circumstances would have resulted in hundreds of different outcomes.
I'm not sure what you're getting at here.

And if we can agree on that fairly basic concept, then we must reject your null hypothesis. In other words, while we cannot prove the nature of an individual, it is easy to prove that they cannot be assumed to be equal - because of the 'what' that we can observe. Not that THAT is enough to fully celebrate or demonize someone …
It doesn't matter if we can reasonably establish a difference in value - if we can't quantify it in a reasonable way.

You could take someone like Hitler - and you could point out the travesty he brought with him. But you don't know the alternatives or potential of him as a person from birth to death - and you can't say for certain that his actions didn't lead to actions that might have helped world society as a whole.

For instance, if you want to blame WW2 on one person - then you also have to make that one person responsible for everything that happened because of WW2 - which includes a massive amount of "progress" during the years and after - and which is still evolving today.
Last edited by DArtagnan; October 16th, 2013 at 13:10.
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