Reasons to Study History

Below are reasons why it is important to study History in the order of most compelling to least compelling:

1) Paul Russell believes that cultures in the present are heavily influenced by historical events. As a result, studying history allows humans to understand the origins of current traditions within society. He makes this claim based on observations of Britain and WWI.

The point that Russell makes is the most compelling to me. I agree with him that present-day occurrences and activities in society are heavily influenced by our past and in order to understand this, we need to understand the past. I think this is the most important reason as to why we should study History. It allows us to understand the circumstances under which our society  has shaped and provides context as to why we do the things that we do.

2) R G Collingwood, a historian and philosopher, believes that history is valuable on an individual level. It can be used to teach individuals about their personality, how that is unique and their human nature. History is the best way to do so as the only way to know one can do something is if they try, therefore, we must look at what one has done to see what they can do.

3) Austin Thierry, a French historian believes that the study of history can contribute to selflessness and steadfastness which in turn would put our modern day troubles and concerns into perspective. As a result, society may be provided with a sense of ‘security’, ‘confidence’ and positivity in humanity as a result of understanding our achievements.

4) Understanding history allows humans to invalidate assumptions of the present and put present-day society into perspective. In early modern England, the average marriage lasted between 17 to 20 years and ended in most cases due to high death rates in youth. This could be used to explain the cause of high divorce rates now, where modern divorce acts as a substitute for death.

5) History enables the understanding of a society’s roots, which in turn provides self knowledge.

6) Carl Gustavson believes that the study of history can be used to look into the future of mankind.

7) The historian G R Elton believes that the purpose of studying history is as a mean of intellectual training with which to improve our rational skills along the search for truth.

 I agree with Gustavson that there historical events, such as wars, have repeated in the past. However, I do not think that history is recorded in a detailed and scientific enough way to produce reliable predictions of the future. In addition, many variables influence the occurence of an event, because history does not take a scientific account in controlling variables and testing different trials to prove a hypothesis, history is not a reliable source for predicting the future.

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