Friday, March 16, 2012

‘History is no more than a study of human folly.’ Is this a fair comment?

There is a famous proverb, ‘Let bygones be bygones’ which essentially means: forget the past; do not worry about it anymore.  Moreover, since the outcome of our past actions cannot be changed however hard we try at present, forgetting them has no alternative. On the other hand, focusing on future events can enable us to influence their outcomes. Therefore, remembering the past events and musing over them at present might not only seem to be unimportant but also ridiculous. Since, history too does the same, that is, rejuvenating the bygones, its study too seems to be futile. However, this is only one side of the story. What if a person forgets his mistakes of the past and repeats them? Again, what about the pleasant memories of the past which can be constructive rather than destructive?

History is more worthy than it seems to be, as a subject of study and it is in no way a mere study of human folly but that of aggregate human activities which hold special importance to the generations that follow. In other words, it is the collection of the events and real stories which can provide the knowledge to the descendants from both the good and bad deeds committed by the deceased. Therefore, history is clearly worth studying given its various useful implications in our daily life.

First of all, history explains our origins. The systematic study of the human activities in a chronological order provides us the basis to know about our ancestors and, more specifically, how we evolved into the present state. That study can be very useful to analyze our present. For example, discrimination on the basis of caste started not long ago in the Hindu society. For some hundred years, people believed whatever their ancestors said and continued the tradition of discrimination on the ground of caste. However, the careful study of history revealed that the caste system was developed on the ground of occupation and since people can now adopt any occupation they want the caste system became almost irrelevant to many people. Therefore, the study of history enables us to know about our past and take better decisions at present.

Second importance of history is that it studies the events of the pasts and draws lessons from them. This can have significant implication in anticipating the consequence of our present action. For example, signing the unfair treaties like ‘The Versailes Treaty’ can fuel up retaliation against the humiliation. Many such useful analogies can be found in the history which can help the politicians to predict the likely future outcome of their current action. Hence, history provides a basis for prediction.

History provides experiments, often called natural experiment, to the social science disciplines. In the social science disciplines like the economics, psychology, etc. performing an experiment is much unlikely and might not even yield accurate result since human behavior changes when they realize that they are being studied. Therefore, experimentation is difficult, if not impossible, in social sciences; however, history can fill this void for these highly dynamic disciplines. For example, history provides all the data necessary to study the business cycles: the prosperity, recession and recovery. Thus, it helps the economists to explain the causes of each recession and how to formulate policy so as to reach recovery as soon as possible.Similarly, it enables such disciplines to study and forecast the future trend of human civilization.

While history shows us plenty of examples of human folly such as wars, superstitions, and so on, it also shows many instances of human intelligence. The pursuit of wisdom long ago by the prominent classical philosophers Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etcetera is one such example. Although some of their views are proven to have flaws now, they laid the foundation for the modern philosophy and literature. Therefore, claiming that history is the mere study of human folly is just like saying there’s only one side in a coin.

However, even if the history studied only the human follies, then too it would have a lot of wise implications. For example, such a study would point out where the people are most likely to go wrong and what would be the probable consequence. That would help us avoid such loopholes in our own endeavour to successfully reach our destination.

Therefore, in any case the importance of history cannot be disregarded. Its study has the key to explaining how humans behave and interact in different situations. History documents not only the matters that portray human foolishness but also due intelligence. Otherwise, we would not have been able to draw upon our great philosophical thinkers, prominent scientists, scholars, and creative artists. That would have probably left us devoid of culture, the wealth of information we have at present and many other things. Therefore, history is clearly a broad subject with wide areas of use and application.

3 comments:

  1. which one is the thesis statement?

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  2. In this essay, the statement, "However, this is only one side of the story." in the first paragraph is the thesis statement.

    Two rhetorical questions are presented after the thesis statement to show that 'The study of history is not concerned only with the human follies.'

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  3. I suggest u to include essays related with United Nation also..It will be useful

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