What is History for?

Discussion in 'Historiography' started by von Poop, Aug 30, 2014.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Some of us struggled through Elton, Carr etc. at Uni 'study of history' courses, some of us have doubtless drawn our own conclusions from other studies and interests.

    Why do you think history matters?
    Perhaps I should really ask; Why do you think military history matters?
    Does it have to 'matter'? It's an interest in and of itself for many, surely.

    Funny old piece in the Philosophers Mail got me back onto this old chestnut.
    High expectations or what!

    Philosopher's Mail - What is History for?
  2. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    I just love these slightly off the wall posts of yours!

    History is because we can remember things and/or write them down.

    How about "Learn from the past in order to understand the present and plan for the future". Pity politicians and their/our enemies don't seem to understand this very simple concept.
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    My take is that noone learns from history, the human race always makes it's own mistakes & repeats them.

    For some history is a hobby, an passionate interest or a way of making a living.

    Does history matter, nope not at all.
    The future is all that matters.
    Wills likes this.
  4. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day van poop.adaministrator,yesterday.05:23pm.re:what is history for?a legacy for future generations,to believe it or not,thank you for posting regards bernard85
  5. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I believe every thing has 'a history'; History is a conveniently packaged category like any other Subject - so it has no purpose really other than to be another reference tool for those interested in trying to fathom aspects about the human condition and the world around us.

    I don't think History teaches us anything either, (to me that always sounds like it's by some passive process of osmosis) : people have to be open to learning and occasionally be willing or able to apply that knowledge.

    I also think that those who unthinkingly preach that mantra - learning from the past will help us avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future - are invariably paying little attention to events in the present; that some 'lessons' gleaned from our past can actually be less than beneficial for some in the present and in the future.
  6. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic


    I take your point except that we all seem to learn by experience (i.e. 'History') except politicians. We already have high up EU politicians saying words to the effect that Russia is already at War with the rest of Europe. It's idiotic brinksmanship and mental impression and 'mission creep' like that that turns a Cold War into a hot one.
  7. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    History is how we understand just how we got where we are.
    We need to sudy History to understand who we are and what mistakes we have made and how not to make tham again (but we seems to keep doing this!)
    Military History is important for the Military as they study strategy, tactics, decision making, command and control techniques, logistics etc to build experience and train themselves.
    For the rest of us... well we just love it don't we..... and there's now't wrong with that either!.
  8. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I don't think we all learn by experience, not just politicians who exempt themselves, but yes, it's one method available to all.

    As for Putin, does he not already act and talk like the West is at war with Russia... He manages so well to identify criticism of his policies with criticism of Russia - he's always played to his home crowd who count, not to us who don't: he's done that and sold the T-shirt. Our lot talk a lot of hot air amongst themselves and then pretend to let us in on the real story. A few of us aren't buying it as the one to watch though.
  9. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    That's my view too (coming in here hesitantly as I've put my foot in it a few times, being one of the few female members and no expert compared with many on here.)
    I lived through WW2 as a child and it affected me deeply, my Dad served in the RNVR and thankfully returned.
    Most of my reading is to research the history of the events leading up to the war. Trying to understand how and why nations behaved as they did. It wasn't just a sudden explosion of fighting, it was worldwide, and a consequence of previous political movements.
    I hope to find out that most people were just swept along by events, and not intrinsically bad.
    The Cooler King and Rich Payne like this.
  10. Brian Smith

    Brian Smith Junior Member

    The past - provides something for us to argue about. Brian
    dbf likes this.
  11. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Military history is important because:

    1. It involves the deaths of millions of men, especially in our own century. We owe it to them to remember them and to study their experiences, simply as a matter of respect. If a disease or natural catastrophe had killed as many people as the Second World War, then that too would be worthy of study.
    2. War has played a vital role in the lives of nations throughout history. Contrary to certain mushy views, war (unfortunately) can and does settle things.
    3. War remains important in the world today, and as any glance at the papers or TV shows both the public and many policymakers remain shockingly ignorant of the subject. That ignorance is busily building new highways to disaster at this very moment.
    4. War is dramatic and full of human interest. It makes for great stories, stories that deserve to be told. Some of the best writers I have read are military historians, and simply as writing the best of their work can stand comparison with that of the best modern novelists.

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