Historical Right, Historical Responsibility and Historians

Pai Chihwei
Research Associate, Buddhist Institute of True Enlightenment
Electrical Engineering, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology

Tsai Lichen
Research Fellow, Buddhist Institute of True Enlightenment
MBA, Tunghai University


Although it is extremely important, the scope of the historian is a topic that very few people explore in historiography. Using historical right as the characteristic of the historian, this article defines the scope of the historian. Among many different opinions about the content of historical right, this article thinks the right to select and interpret parts of facts to manifest their knowledge and value is the historical right of the historian.

The reason why the historian has the historical right is that the historical facts are too huge to record all of them, and a historian has to write about the essential parts selected from countless facts. The author of this article expresses a different view on the topic about “the historian, who manages official documents to assist in the governing of a country” and thinks the historical right defined by the author is completely different from the official historian’s governing power, which will hinder the execution of historical right. With this view, this article clearly defines the connotation of historical right and clarifies the real characteristic of the historian.

Historical responsibility comes with the corresponding historical right. With the historical right, a historian should bear the responsibility for the history which he manifests. The historical responsibility is not given to a historian by anyone; it is a definite phenomenon generated by the continuous operation of the “grandly unified” causality rule in the dharma-realm. The execution of historical right by a historian is in fact to write the rules in his mind; it is the historical right of a historian.

Generally there are three layers of meaning for the grandly unified historical responsibility: The first is the minor precepts of conduct; the second is the unique causality rule of grand unification; the highest layer is the ultimate origin of causality rule—the eighth vijnana Tathagatagarbha. All three layers of the historical responsibility should not be violated when a historian executes his historical right.

According to the characteristic of historical right, this article finds both journalists and media workers are historians in conformity to the characteristic of historical right. Furthermore, everyone and even all sentient beings of ten dharma-realms are historians too. It is because every sentient being of ten dharma-realms is the subject of history; everyone has the historical right to write the rules with one’s bodily, verbal and mental deeds, and has no choice but to bear the due historical responsibility; therefore the ten dharma-realms are built. Among the ten dharma-realms, the sages and saints of the four noble dharma-paths are true historians, whereas the sentient beings of the six ordinary karma-paths are false historians. This is a reduced scope of the historian.

Keywords: historian, historical right, historical responsibility, writing the rules, seven noble precepts, five supernatural powers, five insights, grand unification, distortion of the facts, Confucian ethical code, Tathagatagarbha, double standard, balance of power, journalist, media, theory of public opinion


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