Wednesday, February 11, 2015

History

As a child, I thought history was all about dates, and I had no particular affinity towards it. But in the last ten years, I've been increasingly drawn to history, and this has been mainly due to good books that I've read on the subject. It helped that I took online courses on Archaeology, History of Architecture and A brief history of humankind.

But why should we study history? Dr Yuval Noah Harari, who was the instructor of the course "A Brief History of Humankind," puts it beautifully:

People often ask, what is the purpose of studying history? They sometimes imagine that we study history in order to predict the future, or in order to learn from past mistakes. In my view, we should study history not in order to learn from the past, but in order to be free of it.
 
Each of us is born into a particular world, governed by a particular system of norms and values, and a particular economic and political order. Since we are born into it, we take the surrounding reality to be natural and inevitable, and we tend to think that the way people today live their lives is the only possible way. We seldom realize that the world we know is the accidental outcome of chance historical events, which condition not only our technology, politics and economics but even the way we think and dream. This is how the past grips us by the back of the head, and turn our eyes towards a single possible future. We have felt the grip of the past from the moment we were born, so we don’t even notice it. The study of history aims to loosen this grip, and to enable us to turn our head around more freely, to think in new ways, and to see many more possible futures.

The more I think about it, the truer the above sentences seem to me. And it is true that by reading more history, I'm gaining perspective on several subjects.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can you please suggest some good books on history of world War I and 2? For a change, Google didn't help me much :(

Bhavana said...

Wow! So well said!

Anonymous said...

It is so true, but very few think this way. They are caught up in the past -isms. Both left ideologues and right wing conservatives wrap around their neck the 'marxian' and 'Sanatan Dharm' ropes and hang themselves....they don't see that events change in time, and with that our existence itself metamorphs. If we do not let this change take its normal course, we get stuck our self deeply in mud without any way out....

Anonymous said...

It is so true, but very few think this way. They are caught up in the past -isms. Both left ideologues and right wing conservatives wrap around their neck the 'marxian' and 'Sanatan Dharm' ropes and hang themselves....they don't see that events change in time, and with that our existence itself metamorphs. If we do not let this change take its normal course, we get stuck our self deeply without any way out....

- -