#3026. 歴史における How と Why[historiography][history][causation][language_change][methodology][prediction_of_language_change]


 歴史言語学は言語変化を扱う分野だが,なぜ言語は変化するのかという原因 (causation) を探究するという営みについては様々な立場がある.本ブログでも言語変化 (language_change) の「原因」「要因」「駆動力」を様々に論じてきたが,「なぜ」に対する答えはそもそも存在するのだろうかという疑念が常につきまとっている.仮に与えられた答えらしきものは,言語変化の「なぜ」 (Why?) に対する答えではなく,「どのように」 (How?) に対する答えにすぎないのではないか,と.言語変化の How と Why については,「#2123. 言語変化の切り口」 ([2015-02-18-1]) と「#2255. 言語変化の原因を追究する価値について」 ([2015-06-30-1]) で別々の問いであるかのように扱ってきたが,この2つの問いはどのような関係にあるのだろうか.
 連日参照している Harari (265--66) は,歴史学の立場からこの問題を論じており,Why に対する How の重要性を説いている.

What is the difference between describing 'how' and explaining 'why'? To describe 'how' means to reconstruct the series of specific events that led from one point to another. To explain 'why' means to find causal connections that account for the occurrence of this particular series of events to the exclusion of all others.
   Some scholars do indeed provide deterministic explanations of events such as the rise of Christianity. They attempt to reduce human history to the workings of biological, ecological or economic forces. They argue that there was something about the geography, genetics or economy of the Roman Mediterranean that made the rise of a monotheist religion inevitable. Yet most historians tend to be sceptical of such deterministic theories. This is one of the distinguishing marks of history as an academic discipline --- the better you know a particular historical period, the harder it becomes to explain why things happened one way and not another. Those who have only a superficial knowledge of a certain period tend to focus only on the possibility that was eventually realised. They offer a just-so story to explain with hindsight why that outcome was inevitable. Those more deeply informed about the period are much more cognisant of the roads not taken.

 では,歴史の Why ではなく How に踏みとどまざるを得ない歴史学とは何のためにあるのか.Harari (48) は解放感のある次のような言葉で言い切る.

So why study history? Unlike physics or economics, history is not a means for making accurate predictions. We study history not to know the future but to widen our horizons, to understand that our present situation is neither natural nor inevitable, and that we consequently have many more possibilities before us than we imagine. For example, studying how Europeans came to dominate Africans enables us to realise that there is nothing natural or inevitable about the racial hierarchy, and that the world might well be arranged differently.

 言語の予測可能性については,「#843. 言語変化の予言の根拠」 ([2011-08-18-1]),「#844. 言語変化を予想することは危険か否か」 ([2011-08-19-1]),「#1019. 言語変化の予測について再考」 ([2012-02-10-1]),「#2154. 言語変化の予測不可能性」 ([2015-03-21-1]),「#2273. 言語変化の予測可能性について再々考」 ([2015-07-18-1]) をはじめとする (prediction_of_language_change) の記事を参照されたい.

 ・ Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. 2011. London: Harvill Secker, 2014.

Referrer (Inside): [2017-12-13-1]

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