What is the necessity for learning things about the past?

Question:

What is the necessity for learning things about the past?

Studying History:

Almost since civilization began, people became obsessed with the idea of recording past events. Although early records were more lists of the accomplishments of rulers than anything else, over time, the recording of history became an important act.

Answer and Explanation:

There are several good reasons. One that is popular is that if people do not understand the mistakes of the past, they will repeat them. This is true to a point, although it is important to remember that the circumstances of the past are not always the same as the circumstances in the present, meaning that the outcomes will not always be exactly the same.

Another reason to learn about the past, in fact, probably the most important one, is that it helps one understand why the present looks the way it does. If one wants to know why a political party acts the way it does, or why certain towns favor some economic activities and not others, understanding history will reveal the reasons. This helps people in the present make informed decisions about what to do in the future.

One last reason that learning about the past is important is that it helps understand why people acted the way they did in the past. If one wants to understand why the Civil War began in the United States in 1861, understanding the values, actions, and decisions of people in the 1840s or 1850s will help reveal the answer. In this regard, it is important to get a variety of perspectives in understanding events as well as possible. It would be natural for a writer during the Civil War to present their opinions based on their position at the time. A Confederate writer will have a dramatically different view from a Union writer's.

Regarding all these reasons, a good approach to history is to look for as many different views as possible, and through this getting a better picture of the events.


Learn more about this topic:

Historiography: Definition, Importance & Examples
Historiography: Definition, Importance & Examples

from History 301: Historiography & Historical Methods

Chapter 1 / Lesson 2
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