Philosopher George Santayana is known for his famous statement that states that those who forget about history are doomed to repeat it. However, that is just one of the many reasons why it is so important for us to learn as much about history as we can. While history is not really cyclical, it is nevertheless important. Without understanding where we’ve come from, we cannot understand where we are, and we most definitely cannot understand where we might be going. Even debates that are prevalent in American politics today go back to the founding generation and the disputes between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson that occurred while both served in President George Washington’s cabinet. If you stop and really take the time to think about it you can realize that the majority of our society today can be traced back to our history hundreds or even thousands of years ago.
What Questions Does History Attempt to Answer?
Studying for a masters of history online can be a great way to learn about the past and how it impacts the present. Historians can provide a context for past events and show how the past unfolded. Every historian has a perspective, and these professionals ask questions of the past. The who, what, and when of history is generally known with quite a bit of certainty, especially for more recent events. Instead of looking at the known parameters, historians usually concern themselves with the questions of why events happen as they do and how historical processes manifest themselves. There is definitely no better way to learn about the past than to study it.
Historians Can Show How Humans Behave Badly
History is primarily a study of humanity, and historians are usually placed under the umbrella of the humanities by those who like to classify academic disciplines. Humans in the past have frequently behaved in pretty pitiful ways. Events like the Crusades, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and the World Wars have seen deaths that have reached into the hundreds of thousands or even into the millions. Great atrocities have been carried out. When historians ask the how and why questions regarding these horrible epochs in world history, they are attempting to help people in the present avoid similar mistakes. While history is not cyclical, it does exhibit patterns in human behavior. This is also something that can really help psychologists be successful in analyzing society behaviors as well as personal behaviors. It really is amazing how much we can learn about people today by studying people of our past.
History Helps Us Understand Why Society Progresses
In addition to looking at the negative events from the past in an attempt to avoid reliving them, historians also look into great triumphs. Scientific discoveries have greatly impacted the world that we live in, and the practice of the scientific method requires some understanding of the past. Humans have traditionally built upon the knowledge that has been accumulated over time, and some remembrance of past knowledge is necessary for new discoveries. By learning about the past we can find even better ways to progress in the future.
While many people might feel that history is just a litany of names and dates that are generally disconnected, a closer look at the subject shows that our current standard of living is inexorably tied to the people and events from many years ago. Connecting these people and events to the present is one major way that the study of history can enrich our lives. There is also nothing better than being able to hear great and inspiring stories about the incredible people of our past.
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