Thursday, November 11, 2010

History is a ripping good yarn

  1. If x has a great plot, then it is probably not the case that either (a) x was produced by no authors or (b) x was produced by a largely unstructured committee of authors.
  2. Human history has a great plot.
  3. Human history is produced by God or by no authors or by a largely unstructured committee of authors (= all of us).
  4. Human history is neither produced by no authors nor a by largely unstructured committee of authors. (1 and 2, non-deductive)
  5. Human history is produced by God. (3 and 4)
Evidence for (2) is just how good plotwise history books are even when accurate. If one disputes that human history has a great plot as a whole, one might take some smaller portion of human history, but nonetheless one big enough that an analogue of (4) holds for it (so, not a part of human history dominated by a single figure like Napoleon).

[Edited for clarity.]


Bill Martin said...

Fascinating. I am unfamiliar with an "argument from history." Is this a first? Inductively plausible, seems to me, and rhetorically strong, but does it depend on an aesthetic judgement ("greatness"), or is "greatness" to be understood in terms of perfection, as in "a maximally great Being?" Wondering if P1 is stronger or weaker because of that ambiguity.

Alexander R Pruss said...

It does depend on an aesthetic judgment. Nothing wrong with that.

awatkins69 said...

Ah but it may not be God; it may be the the devil!