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Thread: Is History important?

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    Lady of Smilies Nightshade's Avatar
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    Is History important?

    Now I want to say first off we need to keep this nonpolitical, I'm not sure how possible that actually is considering this idea came from a very political debate I was having with my flatmates but there you go.

    So The question is this do you think People really really have to know their History, who they are who they come from the details of their country and cultures history who as a collective group they were sinned against and sinned themselves ( the word sin has less of the connotations if I used any of the other possible words that tend to focus on one or the other group; oppression, subjugation, slavery, persecution... every culture and society across history has been a victim at one point or other and most if not all have also played roles in the sinning bracket of the equation.

    So is history endlessly repeating the same story over and over again? Can facing all the dirty nasty truth about who we are help us change to be better in the future as a global society? Can we ever have equality? Do we even really want true equality? Do we need someone to blame?



    Are we taught 'cherry picked History' , History is written by the Victors, I'm fairly certain Churchill said. Does it then remain that history is a story someone made it up and it is biased, even facts figures statistics cant tell you the real history because to 2 people standing experiencing the same external stimuli 2 different things happen, history is always unique and individual and thus shouldn't count? Or should we be taught all of us all the bad things that we have done and do and have had done to us as a kind of warning. The world's history is the world's judgment someone called Schiller said that in 1789, cant think why the name rings a bell but it does.

    Or do we obsess too much about the past, think too much about how we were hard done by 30, 50, 100, 200, 1000 years ago? Is it about time we moved on? Voltaire said that history is nothing but a tableau of crimes and misfortunes surely focusing on so much negativity is bad , we cant go forward if we are stuck in the past?

    So Like I said my flatmates and I have been discussing/arguing about this for the last 3 days more or less solidly, although we have skirted the topic before and we will probably keep debating for another good week or 2. Any minute someone will knock on a door and say right come here look what I have found and this illustrates my argument X Y Z but we do tend to focus on the politics placing the argument in light of current issues and events in ways that isn't suited for the litnet , but also kind of takes away from the plain idea of in theory is history a good or bad thing? Do we pay enough attention to it etc

    I don't have an answer to me all the arguments have merit and in the last day I can see I have begun to move away from my original stance, but it got me wondering what other people from a lot more diverse set of backgrounds think
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    Registered User Chilly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    So The question is this do you think People really really have to know their History, who they are who they come from the details of their country and cultures history who as a collective group they were sinned against and sinned themselves ( the word sin has less of the connotations if I used any of the other possible words that tend to focus on one or the other group; oppression, subjugation, slavery, persecution... every culture and society across history has been a victim at one point or other and most if not all have also played roles in the sinning bracket of the equation.

    So is history endlessly repeating the same story over and over again? Can facing all the dirty nasty truth about who we are help us change to be better in the future as a global society? Can we ever have equality? Do we even really want true equality? Do we need someone to blame?



    Are we taught 'cherry picked History' , History is written by the Victors, I'm fairly certain Churchill said. Does it then remain that history is a story someone made it up and it is biased, even facts figures statistics cant tell you the real history because to 2 people standing experiencing the same external stimuli 2 different things happen, history is always unique and individual and thus shouldn't count? Or should we be taught all of us all the bad things that we have done and do and have had done to us as a kind of warning. The world's history is the world's judgment someone called Schiller said that in 1789, cant think why the name rings a bell but it does.

    Or do we obsess too much about the past, think too much about how we were hard done by 30, 50, 100, 200, 1000 years ago? Is it about time we moved on? Voltaire said that history is nothing but a tableau of crimes and misfortunes surely focusing on so much negativity is bad , we cant go forward if we are stuck in the past?

    So Like I said my flatmates and I have been discussing/arguing about this for the last 3 days more or less solidly, although we have skirted the topic before and we will probably keep debating for another good week or 2. Any minute someone will knock on a door and say right come here look what I have found and this illustrates my argument X Y Z but we do tend to focus on the politics placing the argument in light of current issues and events in ways that isn't suited for the litnet , but also kind of takes away from the plain idea of in theory is history a good or bad thing? Do we pay enough attention to it etc
    I think that people should definitely know their history, but that's my biased opinion. I love history, to me it is an endless source of fascinating stories that teach us about everything. Every situation that a human can go through has happened a million times,. If we were able to watch and study these events, we would know what to do and wouldn't create the same mistakes, which would help the future.

    However, we can never actually go back in time and watch things ourselves, so we wouldn't be able to take out much while studying. Like you said, everything we know about the past is from biased points of views and we can never know what truly happened. So we wouldn't be able to actually use much of what we learned, because we don't know if its true.

    Nonetheless, everything has a kernel of truth and we could still learn and improve our lives. Its not like the biases affect the story too much.

    So i think that generally, learning history is quite useful because it helps us not make mistakes. Plus, if you don't know you're basic history we could call you ignorant.

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    Sometimes people do not want the history. An example would be the far flung impact and very long reach of German Nazism, which at its core was an extreme radical kind of ideal futurism. Genocide is not easy to digest, even for would be scholars like myself, but I do not look away. The United States is not entirely innocent on this score either, as there was an extermination campaign, sanctioned at times by government and military, against the indigenous nations that were gradually herded into reservations. There is also a nasty little theory about the king of Britain who abdicated for his American divorcee, but I suppose I pushed the envelope enough for one post--my main point being, everyone knows histories. The truth is more easily buried.
    Last edited by Jozanny; 05-04-2009 at 06:43 PM. Reason: spelling

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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Yes - as soon as you start doubting history, you start doubting the value of life. Without history, the individual, or even society does not matter. People's impact on the world is what, I would argue, keeps people really sane. If there is no history, there really is no connection of time - time would be completely lost, and therefore any ideas of creativity, or of being apart of anything deteriorate. Everything would become relative, to the point where one would live in a virtual aporia.

    Of course, though one must question what is meant by history. IF by history you mean history textbooks - that makes no difference - the written form of history doesn't really matter much. But without the significance of events, without the concept of what has led to identity, without essentially a coherent sense of culture, nothing would be permissible. So, something like Beowulf for instance, in my meaning, would imply a sort of history, whereas the tradition from Herodotus down, from the entry of text into the world really, doesn't matter much. The oral history though, the time rather than space based history, that is essential.
    Last edited by JBI; 05-04-2009 at 08:56 PM.

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    Thinking...thinking! dramasnot6's Avatar
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    I agree with a lot of what JBI has commented.
    I just read a wonderful theorist named Walter Benjamin (his piece "On the Concept of History" is especially relevant here) who argues that history's value lies in our redemption of the people of the past. Looking to the illusion of the future should not be the source of our inspiration to do anything and everything. And yes, the written form of history isn't even history at all (although I guess neither is our socially construction version of it as a part of our identities).
    The historical event has many functions outside of being written in a textbook. It provides us with a sense of struggle and change that ultimately leads us to seek progress (although,arguably, the term progress here is problematic because, as the expression goes "history does repeat itself" and absolute progress is impossible to achieve).
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    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    History is important but not all-important. And it's impossible to know for sure what happened, so for that reason if no other, it isn't all-important. For instance, it's inevitable that there is some distortion, due to forgetfulness, missing an important detail, or any other of a million reasons. History is important in education, but education covers some other topics as well. You know, I think actually pre-history can be more important in some ways. I mean, just to get an idea about what happened before we even wrote anything down.

    I guess it's just a decision as to what you think is important. History is part of education but knowing it doesn't make us do better things necessarily. I think people will decide what they will do, whether to do good things or rotten things, generally out of their desire, their development of character, and their knowledge or ignorance. By knowledge, I generally mean self-knowledge.
    Last edited by NikolaiI; 05-05-2009 at 01:17 AM.

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    Lady of Smilies Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Yes - as soon as you start doubting history, you start doubting the value of life. Without history, the individual, or even society does not matter. People's impact on the world is what, I would argue, keeps people really sane. If there is no history, there really is no connection of time - time would be completely lost, and therefore any ideas of creativity, or of being apart of anything deteriorate. Everything would become relative, to the point where one would live in a virtual aporia.

    Of course, though one must question what is meant by history. IF by history you mean history textbooks - that makes no difference - the written form of history doesn't really matter much. But without the significance of events, without the concept of what has led to identity, without essentially a coherent sense of culture, nothing would be permissible. So, something like Beowulf for instance, in my meaning, would imply a sort of history, whereas the tradition from Herodotus down, from the entry of text into the world really, doesn't matter much. The oral history though, the time rather than space based history, that is essential.
    So just to be sure I have this straight, you are saying that history is crucial to society, humanity even, because without the illusion or possibility of making an impact leaving a mark, life wold just fall to pieces? That is intresting.
    Quote Originally Posted by dramasnot6 View Post
    I agree with a lot of what JBI has commented.
    I just read a wonderful theorist named Walter Benjamin (his piece "On the Concept of History" is especially relevant here) who argues that history's value lies in our redemption of the people of the past. Looking to the illusion of the future should not be the source of our inspiration to do anything and everything. And yes, the written form of history isn't even history at all (although I guess neither is our socially construction version of it as a part of our identities).
    The historical event has many functions outside of being written in a textbook. It provides us with a sense of struggle and change that ultimately leads us to seek progress (although,arguably, the term progress here is problematic because, as the expression goes "history does repeat itself" and absolute progress is impossible to achieve).
    OK putting that on the reading list.
    Quote Originally Posted by Chilly View Post
    I think that people should definitely know their history, but that's my biased opinion. I love history, to me it is an endless source of fascinating stories that teach us about everything. Every situation that a human can go through has happened a million times,. If we were able to watch and study these events, we would know what to do and wouldn't create the same mistakes, which would help the future.

    However, we can never actually go back in time and watch things ourselves, so we wouldn't be able to take out much while studying. Like you said, everything we know about the past is from biased points of views and we can never know what truly happened. So we wouldn't be able to actually use much of what we learned, because we don't know if its true.

    Nonetheless, everything has a kernel of truth and we could still learn and improve our lives. Its not like the biases affect the story too much.

    So i think that generally, learning history is quite useful because it helps us not make mistakes. Plus, if you don't know you're basic history we could call you ignorant.
    Quote Originally Posted by NikolaiI View Post
    History is important but not all-important. And it's impossible to know for sure what happened, so for that reason if no other, it isn't all-important. For instance, it's inevitable that there is some distortion, due to forgetfulness, missing an important detail, or any other of a million reasons. History is important in education, but education covers some other topics as well. You know, I think actually pre-history can be more important in some ways. I mean, just to get an idea about what happened before we even wrote anything down.

    I guess it's just a decision as to what you think is important. History is part of education but knowing it doesn't make us do better things necessarily. I think people will decide what they will do, whether to do good things or rotten things, generally out of their desire, their development of character, and their knowledge or ignorance. By knowledge, I generally mean self-knowledge.
    Oh I see so like having a shared history gives us a shared starting point even if it is all a pack of lives it puts on a bit of a level with each other then we go from there sort of like a tool or resource weve gotto pul on?


    Quote Originally Posted by Jozanny View Post
    Sometimes people do not want the history. An example would be the far flung impact and very long reach of German Nazism, which at its core was an extreme radical kind of ideal futurism. Genocide is not easy to digest, even for would be scholars like myself, but I do not look away. The United States is not entirely innocent on this score either, as there was an extermination campaign, sanctioned at times by government and military, against the indigenous nations that were gradually herded into reservations. There is also a nasty little theory about the king of Britain who abdicated for his American divorcee, but I suppose I pushed the envelope enough for one post--my main point being, everyone knows histories. The truth is more easily buried.
    Ok Jozanny stepping away from the specific poltics in that post ( in so far as it is possible, of course. Like I was trying to explain to aguy who was looking for a book on Saterday you cant really get a complete socioand economic history that spans over 1,500 years without politics they are all too intertwined) Having said that So Politics shape histry and history shapes our politics. whihc you could link with the learning and redemtion from history idea. But I do want to say that Geoncide and ethnic cleansing are hardly new thinngs, and hthis is what my flat mate meant by cherry picked history we seem to only see the big new shiny events and forget the these things hjave been happening for thousands of years.

    Ok I have more to add but I wil get back to that later in the day when Ive got some more studying done
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    Well, okay, but what do you mean by history? The academic discipline which is a combination of journalism and anthropology? or JBI's cultural historic mythologies? There is a difference, and the tensions of the truths between them is problematic. Beowulf is not history, in my definition, but a founding mythology, much like Genesis, and others I know of but cannot cite. The study of the city of Lodz, in its entire historical aspect, is, or even the story behind the WW2 king who passed the crown to his brother, unwittingly gifting the world with Elizabeth II's dour duty before all else. How do we define history, even in the broad terms you're looking at?

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    I think many people who study History will tell you that the first thing you learn from History is that no one learns from History - people go on making the same mistakes over and over again.

    Nevertheless, I think everyone needs at least a passing aquaintance with the past of their country, better still how their country's past fits in with the past of other countries - without this knowledge, it would be very difficult to think with anything approaching a sense of perspective, surely the mark of an educated mind. The moves from knowing a few key highlights (Alfred burning the cakes, Charles hiding in an oak tree, for example) to a more extended version (Alfred's campaign against the Danes, the course of the English Civil War) to a considered overview (the implications of territorial expansion in Dark Ages Europe, the place of armed struggle in the extension of suffrage in seventeenth century England) to an historical philosphy (the rights of nationhood, the desirability of democracy) are considerable steps however and possibly not for every student - but that is true of any subject, Literature, Chemistry, music, whatever. (I apologise in advance for quoting examples from British History - it's the area with which I am most conversant - for some reason.....)

    As for History being written, I believe historians would argue that History proper is only the written form - pre-history is by extrapolation, oral history is regarded as unreliable. The value placed on oral history is comparatively recent and regarded as useful, as far as the historian is concerned, only if it can be backed up by documentary evidence. Historians love documents: documents that appear to contradict each other are grist to their mill! No historian who wishes to be taken seriously would consider making any statement without documentary evidence to validate his interpretation.

    'Interpretation' is a key word. As previous posters have rightly pointed out, it isn't possible to know exactly what happened in the past: think of ten people witnessing a car crash - you would get ten different accounts and all you could be certain of was that an accident had taken place. An historian takes the existing records and offers an interpretation of events - the honest academic makes it clear this is his interpretation; the less than ingenuous (or more arrogant) writer presents his version as fact. Maybe it takes a little experience to distinguish between the thoughtful exposition and the covert manipulation of the reader, as well as the conscious effort to remember that, learned or otherwise as a paper may seem, it is of necessity a partial account, innocent or otherwise - caveat lector.

    And Jozanny, whatever has Edward VIII (abdicated 1936, btw, just before the outbreak of WWII) done to upset you??

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasie View Post
    And Jozanny, whatever has Edward VIII (abdicated 1936, btw, just before the outbreak of WWII) done to upset you??
    I suppose I harbor a degree of indignation over my own gullibility! I believed the Mrs. Simpson love story for the longest time, and then I started watching Investigative Reports. I will not get into the specifics of the evidence, but I suppose your Winston took the truth with him to his grave, even if he was half-American.

    Very wise and insightful post kasie. Bravo!

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasie View Post
    I think many people who study History will tell you that the first thing you learn from History is that no one learns from History - people go on making the same mistakes over and over again.

    Nevertheless, I think everyone needs at least a passing aquaintance with the past of their country, better still how their country's past fits in with the past of other countries - without this knowledge, it would be very difficult to think with anything approaching a sense of perspective, surely the mark of an educated mind. The moves from knowing a few key highlights (Alfred burning the cakes, Charles hiding in an oak tree, for example) to a more extended version (Alfred's campaign against the Danes, the course of the English Civil War) to a considered overview (the implications of territorial expansion in Dark Ages Europe, the place of armed struggle in the extension of suffrage in seventeenth century England) to an historical philosphy (the rights of nationhood, the desirability of democracy) are considerable steps however and possibly not for every student - but that is true of any subject, Literature, Chemistry, music, whatever. (I apologise in advance for quoting examples from British History - it's the area with which I am most conversant - for some reason.....)

    As for History being written, I believe historians would argue that History proper is only the written form - pre-history is by extrapolation, oral history is regarded as unreliable. The value placed on oral history is comparatively recent and regarded as useful, as far as the historian is concerned, only if it can be backed up by documentary evidence. Historians love documents: documents that appear to contradict each other are grist to their mill! No historian who wishes to be taken seriously would consider making any statement without documentary evidence to validate his interpretation.

    'Interpretation' is a key word. As previous posters have rightly pointed out, it isn't possible to know exactly what happened in the past: think of ten people witnessing a car crash - you would get ten different accounts and all you could be certain of was that an accident had taken place. An historian takes the existing records and offers an interpretation of events - the honest academic makes it clear this is his interpretation; the less than ingenuous (or more arrogant) writer presents his version as fact. Maybe it takes a little experience to distinguish between the thoughtful exposition and the covert manipulation of the reader, as well as the conscious effort to remember that, learned or otherwise as a paper may seem, it is of necessity a partial account, innocent or otherwise - caveat lector.

    And Jozanny, whatever has Edward VIII (abdicated 1936, btw, just before the outbreak of WWII) done to upset you??
    As for historians, New Historicism dictates that old forms of historiography are just as unreliable as oral forms. The oral forms, it can be argued, are somehow more reliable as they function closer to the imagination of the people. Textual history is as assembled as oral history - the amount of crafty assumption and misrepresentation is staggering. Just read the contemporary documents about Japanese Internment during WW2 for example - the language, which was used up until the 70s, was clearly manufactured and containing little truth. The testimony after the event though, when the writing of history failed, did perhaps contain a more accurate picture, even if it wasn't textually verifiable.

    I recommend, for anyone interested in the difference between oral and written forms of communication, The Bias of Communication by Harold Innis - it's a challenging book, but one that shows how textual criticism - which includes movies, and recorded sound - ultimately is flimsier in establishing a sense of identity or worth amongst people. I'm with Innis, honestly, which is hard to admit, since I'm a studier of texts, that the Oral Tradition, and Oral Based societies are far better than Written based ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    As for historians, New Historicism dictates that old forms of historiography are just as unreliable as oral forms. The oral forms, it can be argued, are somehow more reliable as they function closer to the imagination of the people. Textual history is as assembled as oral history - the amount of crafty assumption and misrepresentation is staggering. Just read the contemporary documents about Japanese Internment during WW2 for example - the language, which was used up until the 70s, was clearly manufactured and containing little truth. The testimony after the event though, when the writing of history failed, did perhaps contain a more accurate picture, even if it wasn't textually verifiable........
    I wonder why I feel somewhat uncomfortable with this view of History? Could it be that old certainties are being replaced with new certainties? Or is it the impression that it could be equally manipulative and selective in less than scrupulous or objective hands, that the reader still needs to treat these accounts with just as much caution as textual accounts? Comparisons will still be a requirement for a rounded picture of an event.

    I can't help the conclusion that oral accounts are still going to be as partial and biased, whatever New Historians believe, as the old textual sources. I think they will still need to be treated with a degree of scepticism as to the intention of the deposition. Jozanny mentioned the Abdication of 1936 which is a case in point - it so occupied the attention of the British people in the latter part of the year that other more significant events slid past them comparatively unremarked. It was regarded as the Great Love Story, as she says and that was how the story was remembered and how it could have been remembered if Oral history was all that remained of the event. But the documentary evidence remains, not only in the archived papers of the principal players but in newspaper reports of the time - how the King had put himself into an untenable position by insisting on a marriage to a divorcee, impossible for him as Head of the Church of England, a Church which did not at the time recognise re-marriage of divorced persons in church (rather than marriage to an American, Jozanny! ) - but the majority of people overlooked this aspect and asked about it after the event, remembered only the Romance. It is only in recent years when papers have been available for study that the point of view has been realigned, not 'corrected' but given a more rounded perspective. This is perhaps why I feel inclined to cling to the Old Historicism, the habit of evaluating evidence that does not rely entirely on fallible memory.
    Last edited by kasie; 05-07-2009 at 07:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasie View Post
    I wonder why I feel somewhat uncomfortable with this view of History? Could it be that old certainties are being replaced with new certainties? Or is it the impression that it could be equally manipulative and selective in less than scrupulous or objective hands, that the reader still needs to treat these accounts with just as much caution as textual accounts? Comparisons will still be a requirement for a rounded picture of an event.

    I can't help the conclusion that oral accounts are still going to be as partial and biased, whatever New Historians believe, as the old textual sources. I think they will still need to be treated with a degree of scepticism as to the intention of the deposition. Jozanny mentioned the Abdication of 1936 which is a case in point - it so occupied the attention of the British people in the latter part of the year that other more significant events slid past them comparatively unremarked. It was regarded as the Great Love Story, as she says and that was how the story was remembered and how it could have been remembered if Oral history was all that remained of the event. But the documentary evidence remains, not only in the archived papers of the principal players but in newspaper reports of the time - how the King had put himself into an untenable position by insisting on a marriage to a divorcee, impossible for him as Head of the Church of England, a Church which did not at the time recognise re-marriage of divorced persons in church (rather than marriage to an American, Jozanny! ) - but the majority of people overlooked this aspect and asked about it after the event, remembered only the Romance. It is only in recent years when papers have been available for study that the point of view has been realigned, not 'corrected' but given a more rounded perspective. This is perhaps why I feel inclined to cling to the Old Historicism, the habit of evaluating evidence that does not rely entirely on fallible memory.
    You cannot construct an accurate history, because histories are constructed on inaccurate evidence. The further back you go, the more inaccurate. What you thought happened almost certainly didn't happen like that, and that only creates a piece of an image, and completely ignores now forgotten viewpoints.

    The oral accounts, as you say, aren't perhaps exact accounts of events, but they are just as close as the written ones, in fact, they are closer, since they get the human aspect of it, rather than just the numbers that can be generated. The Oral accounts are more real than the constructed written ones, simply because they are personal, and are transmitted and understood at a personal level.
    Last edited by JBI; 05-07-2009 at 10:18 AM.

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    I have been thinking that perhaps I did not make it clear that I was thinking of written sources in terms of what I believe historians call Prime Sources - State Papers, letters, Orders of the Day, that sort of thing, with perhaps verbatim records of parliamentary debates as presented in publications like Hansard, or minutes of meetings. I cannot imagine any historian of the future ignoring this kind of material. I would agree that Secondary sources, an account of events written by a third party, must have a modicum of bias or selection, however objective the writer strives to be.

    Oral history would give an invaluable perspective on how it felt to be present at events, and is undoubtedly useful for a hitherto somewhat neglected area of historical research, the impact of events on the bystanders or lesser players. Perhaps this is what you mean when you say they are 'more real' but I still perceive this information as passing through another kind of partial and selective filter that limits its use for historians of the future. With modern means of recording accounts however, this will be a rich area of research for future historians, one with wider scope than more limited (in terms of volume) past sources of this nature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Now I want to say first off we need to keep this nonpolitical, I'm not sure how possible that actually is considering this idea came from a very political debate I was having with my flatmates but there you go.
    History is one thing, Politics is another. History is about memory. Politics is about something else.


    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post

    So The question is this do you think People really really have to know their History, who they are who they come from the details of their country and cultures history who as a collective group they were sinned against and sinned themselves ( the word sin has less of the connotations if I used any of the other possible words that tend to focus on one or the other group; oppression, subjugation, slavery, persecution... every culture and society across history has been a victim at one point or other and most if not all have also played roles in the sinning bracket of the equation.

    So is history endlessly repeating the same story over and over again? Can facing all the dirty nasty truth about who we are help us change to be better in the future as a global society? Can we ever have equality? Do we even really want true equality? Do we need someone to blame?
    It's important to people (human beings) to know History of: 1 mankind; 2. their own.

    Reason: identity. (Among other things.) Perhaps country isn't so important as family origin, but it'll vary from person to person. In the United States, for instance, people seem to have certain pride of their origins. In Brasil, black people don't easily have an artistic production as they should, because there's too little "black power" in Brasil. Same with indians: in the States, there seems to be more pride in identities.

    I see things like this.

    I wouldn't be myself if I knew nothing of my ancestors. I know the names of my father (easy ..) my grandfather (easy too), my great-grandfather, his father, and the father of this last one, who was born in Italy. I know the city he's from. Now, well, I'm not Italian, but I had to find some things out. I don't intend to go to Italy to live there, but I had to know this. -- People are different from each other. *I* HAD to know this. There may be someone who won't live by knowing theirs! ...


    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post

    Are we taught 'cherry picked History' , History is written by the Victors, I'm fairly certain Churchill said. Does it then remain that history is a story someone made it up and it is biased, even facts figures statistics cant tell you the real history because to 2 people standing experiencing the same external stimuli 2 different things happen, history is always unique and individual and thus shouldn't count? Or should we be taught all of us all the bad things that we have done and do and have had done to us as a kind of warning. The world's history is the world's judgment someone called Schiller said that in 1789, cant think why the name rings a bell but it does.

    Or do we obsess too much about the past, think too much about how we were hard done by 30, 50, 100, 200, 1000 years ago? Is it about time we moved on? Voltaire said that history is nothing but a tableau of crimes and misfortunes surely focusing on so much negativity is bad , we cant go forward if we are stuck in the past?
    History isn't only written. History is about documents too. There's law, there's art, there's public papers, marriage stuff, birth registration, burial stones ... So, there's some literature about History, all right (Tristam) but there's some documents as well (a stone written "HICIACETDRVSTANS...", "Here lies Drustans", which can still be found in England. So, not all History is literature ...

    History isn't only bad things. There are the good parts. For instance ... Guttenberg made a machine to allow bibles to be more popular. Galileo found four moons around Jupiter. Men stepped on the moon.


    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post

    So Like I said my flatmates and I have been discussing/arguing about this for the last 3 days more or less solidly, although we have skirted the topic before and we will probably keep debating for another good week or 2. Any minute someone will knock on a door and say right come here look what I have found and this illustrates my argument X Y Z but we do tend to focus on the politics placing the argument in light of current issues and events in ways that isn't suited for the litnet , but also kind of takes away from the plain idea of in theory is history a good or bad thing? Do we pay enough attention to it etc

    I don't have an answer to me all the arguments have merit and in the last day I can see I have begun to move away from my original stance, but it got me wondering what other people from a lot more diverse set of backgrounds think
    If you only see bad things, no, you don't pay enough attention to it.



    lq~

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