TOK: #20 – Why Study History?

7 reasons ranked from most to least compelling:

  1. History teaches us about what humans have done in the past, and thus about us about the nature of humans, more specifically about what we can do and who we are.
  2. The study of history is a search for truth about the past, allowing for the improvement of man through the skills and reasoning required.
  3. History allows us to understand the present and why it is the way it is.
  4. Through studying humans’ behavior in the past, we are able to know more about how actions in the past could impact/lead to events in the future.
  5. History contextualizes the modern day society.
  6. History is part of a society’s memory and gives society more purpose.
  7. By studying history and understanding what people had gone through in the past, people’s sense of patriotism towards their own country would be strengthened.

Top Choice:

It is important to understand human nature because by doing so, we are able to better understand the reasoning behind our actions and also predict what may happen in the future. This can also allow us to improve upon ourselves and learn from past mistakes. Collingwood implies that not only does history teach us about the past, but it also teaches us about the present and future, and more importantly about ourselves. Self-knowledge is important because without understanding ourselves, it would be difficult to make any progression in society and learn from the past.

Bottom Choice:

In our modern day society, patriotism may not be as necessary or important as it used to be. History may also not necessarily lead to patriotism depending on the moral values of the individual – if they don’t agree with the actions people of their country had done in the past, they may not become more patriotic towards their own country. Patriotism may also in fact have negative consequences, such as encouraging unjustified distrust or hatred towards other countries.


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