QUESTION TEXT: People often admonish us to learn the…
QUESTION TYPE: Role in Argument
CONCLUSION: People are wrong to tell us we should learn the lessons of history.
REASONING: It’s very hard to figure out the lessons of history, and hard to apply them, because the future will never present an identical situation.
ANALYSIS: The word “but” in the first sentence should be a big tip off. The author disagrees with the claim in the first sentence. It’s very hard to learn from history, and harder still to apply its lessons.
Really, how useful is it to know, for example: “Don’t let Hitler annex the Sudetenland”? That precise situation will never happen again. The right move back then might be the wrong move now.
- There’s no problem (question) to be solved. The sentence just presents a claim: we should learn from history. The argument argues against the claim.
- Not at all. The argument’s conclusion is that this claim is wrong. We shouldn’t try to learn the lessons of history.
- This goes too far. The argument gives reasons why the claim is false: it’s very hard to learn the lessons of history, and harder still to apply them.
- CORRECT. The author strongly disagrees with the idea that we should learn the lessons of history. It’s nearly impossible to do, and the lessons don’t seem very useful.
- Huh? The argument’s conclusion is that it’s really, really hard to learn or use history’s lessons. The argument disagrees with the claim in the first sentence.
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