November 2014

Silencing the Past

The first thing that struck me, even just as I was reading the preface, was Trouillot’s eloquent narrative (I’m not sure if that’s the right word) style. There’s a natural flow and a certain amount of grace in his writing that extremely captivating. I find that he’s a lot easier to follow than Hobbes, Plato or even Rousseau, but perhaps that’s simply because this was written in 1996.

According to Trouillot, “at best, history is a story about power, a story about those who won” (Trouillot 5), and his ultimate goal is to expose the “many ways in which the production of historical narratives involves the uneven contribution of competing groups and individuals who have unequal access to the means for such production” (Trouillot xix). While I completely agree with Trouillot’s argument, I wonder if it’s applicable in a more modern context. For example, although Darren Wilson (the police officer who shot Michael Brown) not being sentenced for murder came as a huge loss for any minority (and arguably anyone) in the United States, Darren Wilson will not be the one writing this piece of history; instead, it will be written by the protestors, the demonstrators, the underdogs.

Leviathan and Self Worth

One of the interesting things I found in Leviathan was the discussion on the Power, Worth, Dignity, Honour, and Worthiness of man (in ch. 10). In paragraph 16, Hobbes makes the claim that the worthiness of man is essentially determined by others. While I completely agree with Hobbes,  I wonder how many other people would. Growing up, we’re often told that it doesn’t matter what other people think of us as long as we’re happy with ourselves, and that we shouldn’t let other people determine our self worth. To me, this notion is completely unrealistic, and I think Hobbes presents a harsh yet honest concept on the value of a person. How often has someone gotten a particular job simply because they think that they are qualified? Never. The person is only able to get the job because the hirer sees potential value in hiring them. However, I also think Hobbes’ argument can lead to other problems as well. For example, his idea could be presented as a justification for slavery or the Holocaust.