Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “In Defence of Objectivity” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “In Defence of Objectivity” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Passages with Solved Precis

Different epochs need different virtues; or perhaps it would be truer to say that the composition of the alloy from which human life is forged varies in each stage of civilization. It is reasonable to describe our age, the age of science taking that world not in the narrow connotation which it bears today but in the Latin sense of ‘knowledge’: an age which in all departments of life, social and political as well as physical, increasingly tries to base itself on knowledge. If so the virtue which it needs most is truth. Without that it can no more hope to endure than a bridge whose construction disobeys the laws of mechanics. And this platitude brings me to my subject.

Here you will demand that I should define truth. Not being a philosopher, I shall not attempt such a task. What puzzled Pilate, baffles me and anyhow I am not dealing with truth in the sense in which he used the word. I mean by it that veracity which does its best to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth; where it is uncertain confesses to uncertainty, where it lacks knowledge does not pretend to it; which is candid and frank, takes no unfair advantage in arguments, is careful not to misrepresent an opponent or to ignore the strength of his case and the weakness of its own.

Is truth in the sense the virtue as well as the need of our times? In the field of physical science the answer is yes. There we have conquered the temptation to let our passions or desires distort reality and ask only to see things as they are. But when we pass from microbes to men, things are very different. In scientific we misrepresentation or suppression of facts is rare. No one could say as much of writing on political or social questions; here we find ourselves in a different world ruled apparently by different principles where the law of veracity may be admitted but is habitually broken. Indeed of recent years it has not been admitted even in the two largest countries in Europe-Germany and Russia. In Russia we have a secular version of the mediaeval church. The citizen may criticize details but lie must keep his mouth shut about the higher policy. The Communist postpones liberty of thought to a scheme of human happiness’. No doubt interference with free speech is not the same as falsification of facts. Liberty is not truth; and its denial is not identical with falsehood. But in effect liberty is essential to truth and liberty is refused in order to set propaganda free.

I do not know enough of serious studies on political and social questions to say how far what I have called the principle of veracity prevails in them. I imagine that in general it does so though I can think of some academic writers on politics who could not honestly claim to comply with the oath administered to witnesses in the law court; and I have heard respectable people say that history is uninteresting if it is impartial, as if truth were dull. But passing outside academic circles, we are apt to find ourselves in a waste land, where truth, if recognized as a possible ideal, is not a major preoccupation. On controversial issues we do not expect to hear from all politicians or all journalists an impartial statement which conceals nothing and does justice to opponents.

To say this is not to fall into a defect common and dangerous in democratic societies-that of denigrating their governors. Politicians and journalists are made of as good clay as other men, but their occupation exposes them far more to a weakness to which all men are liable. Consider the class called intellectuals, whose name suggests that in them we find the intellect dominant and the ‘virtue’ of the intellect fully developed. Consider the New Statesman, organ and product of that class. Consider a typical representative of the class. Shaw, the fallen angel of the age, who could have told the truth and has not. Or consider Wells, who was thought or at least thinks himself, a representative of the scientific spirit, but who has no trace of the patience and objectivity which make it a bundle of emotions and prejudices, an admirable gadfly, a disastrous guide. All these are intellectuals in the sense that they have intellects and use them, but they do not use them for the prime purpose for which intellect exists—to discover the truth. Yet these were held by the generation and not only by the half educated in it, to represent progressive and enlightened thought.

I do not think anyone will question the justice of these criticisms. In personal relations veracity is, if not the universal practice, as any rate an accepted rule of conduct; we are noticed if others break it, ashamed if we do so ourselves. But in controversy on social and political problems our standards are very different; there are-politicians and publicists who take a licence in this field which they would never allow themselves in personal relations; though if we must depart from the truth, it is less disastrous tc do so in private than in public life. For-apart from any moral question inveracity in political and social controversy is such an obstacle to progress; it prevents our ascertaining the facts; it hinders common action. A man does not help the country to find the right road by throwing dust in people’s eyes; and in the process some dust is apt to find its way into his own. It is hard enough to find the anyhow; it is not made easier if a large number of people are trying to conceal it There are many obstacles to political and social progress; but a chief one is what I have called inveracity. We hear a good deal today about the need of improving the physical’ health of the nation. Let us, to this admirable campaign, add one for improving the health of its intelligence and see what we can do extirpate a major disease of it and so acquire healthy minds.

Have we any special conditions or institutions which may breed or foster indifference to truth and which we could remove or alter? I think that we have such institutions, but I am not clear how we could alter them. Dibelius, an acute critic, stresses ‘the element of falseness and unreality’ in our parliamentary system; the sham fighting in it; the tendency to dress a personal or party combat in the cloak of great principles; to make promises which can never be carried out; to attack a policy or measure, normally on its merits in fact because the other party puts it forward and indeed the doctrine that the duty of His Majesty’s opposition is to oppose, if practically useful, intellectually dishonest. We should allow some weight to this criticism.

The party system has a double effect. It encourages and almost demands that each party should misrepresent the other. But the mere fact of debate is a check on misrepresentation. If it goes too far, it exposes itself and discredits its authors. The dictator on the other hand can lie almost without limit; he lies to a silent people; no voice is raised in protests or criticism; he is free to delude his nation and in the end may delude himself. Politicians would not probably agree with Socrates that the uncriticized life is not worth living, but parliamentary government saves them from that life, and they—and we—are better for it.


In Defence of Objectivity

Different virtues being the monopoly of different ages, Our age ostensibly the age of science, is characterised by the virtue of truth. The author implies by truth a quality comprising honesty, frankness, dispassionate analysis of others’ points of view and broad based comprehension of all aspects of an issue. He claims that in the field of Physical science the temptation to be over swayed by subjective considerations to the extent of misrepresenting facts and figures has been overcome, but when it comes to writing on political or social questions, there is different story to be told. In Russia dictatorial sway, another form of medieval church, denies liberty to the common man on the pretext that suppression of liberty is in the interest of furthering human happiness. Similarly academic writers resort to inveracity on the ground that history is nothing but monotonous if it is objective. As regards controversial issue the less said the better. Politicians and journalists in particular rarely do justice to the viewpoints of their adversaries. Bernard Shaw, a staunch spokesman of his class, has’ failed to tell the truth. H.G. Wells who viewed himself as a typical representative of the scientific spirit never displayed dispassionate approach or objective analysis which go to make science what it is. Nevertheless, these intellectuals are represented as having enlightened both their ages and posterity. It is strange that although veracity is accepted as a guiding principle in personal relations, it is totally discarded in the case of controversial political as well as social problems. What is not noticed or sufficiently understood is that inveracity serves as near insurmountable obstruction in progress of society on social as well as political planes. The author while lauding the campaign to improve the physical health of the nation suggests that to this task should be added the necessity of improving the health of its intelligence. There are certain institutions responsible for encouraging indifference to veracity. Parliamentary system whatever its virtues, is steeped in falsehood with policies being represented as principles, false promises never seeing the light of the day and criticism for the sake of criticism as its salient features. Fortunately, in parliamentary system things cannot be carried too far. The fact that every issue is to be debated on the floor of the House serves as a brake to fantastic claims and counterclaims. In dictatorship, however, even that advantage is non-existent.


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