February 2: History

On p. 111, the textbook states,”To say that history is open to interpretation is not, however, to say that historical events mean anything at all; it is rather to say that history itself needs to be historicized-or that historical events need to be subjected to the same scrutiny as other ideological truth claims.” Do you agree or disagree that we should put that much effort into things that happened long ago? Do you think we should we be more focused on the present issues instead?

6 thoughts on “February 2: History

  1. I believe fully in the idea that to understand the present one must understand the past. Though no two events will never be the same, human nature remains shockingly similar. Understanding the emotions and the drive of people in the past will help one better understand the mindset and emotional range of the people of today. I agree with the authors of “The Theory Toolbox” when they say that we in the present can learn from historical events by interpreting the circumstances that surrounded them and take that knowledge to help us prevent such tragedies from happening again, their example was events like the holocaust (pg. 111). So no, no two events are alike and yes history happened a long time ago. But the people who lived in that time are a lot like the people of our time when you get to the core of it, and by learning about the people of the past and their lives through studying history you can learn more about the people of the present and then take that understanding and shape the world around us.

  2. I am of the opinion that history is of the utmost importance to understand the events of today. While interpretations are subject to change, and the recordings of historical events are not without bias, it is essential to understand how the past has affected our present. The old adage claims that “if one doesn’t learn from history, they are doomed to repeat it.” In order to prevent ‘”repeating the past’ requires thinking about how to use the past to alter present conditions and thinking about the future society we’d like to live in.” It is the other key part of the equation to effectively enact change in the future.

  3. I think focusing on present issues can have a more meaningful impact on our lives and the future lives of others. However, the past has shaped the current context and culture that we are subjected too. By understanding and examining the past that has led to the present will help to inform us in our decisions and how they can change the times we live in. An example being the industrial revolution labor riots across Europe that resulted in better working conditions and state run social programs. When digesting recorded history we must also keep in mind like the Toolbox mentions is that these histories are “made rather than found” and “narrated from the point of view” of someone’s personal ideology (110,109).

  4. I feel like it is important to have a good mix between understanding the past and the present. Without having a good knowledge of the past, its basically impossible to really understand the aspects of the present/future. I agree that we should put in a lot of effort trying to understand history and past events, however, i think that it is important not to let it affect how we see the present. For example, on page 111 the author states “Our only way to make sense of the past, to learn from the past, is through the engagement through multiple, often conflicting, historical narratives.” So basically without history, no one would really be able to appreciate/compare how far we’ve come or what still needs to be improved.

  5. As super repetitive as it sounds history only exists in an historical context. History isn’t just past events, it’s past events that have been observed, recorded, and interpreted. If new information regarding an historical figure or event is discovered, it follows that the historical record will change to reflect that despite that, in reality, the past has already happened so nothing really has changed except our pool of knowledge about the past. That’s a hard concept to talk about I just realized. Also, how we think about the past, no matter how objective people try to be, is influenced by current values which may, and probably do, differ from the values of the historical context being studied. It’s that dissonance that leads to judgements being passed on the past sometimes with social problems being dismissed with “oh it was a different time” ignoring that all values came from somewhere and lead to something and it’s probably worth figuring out where the shift happened in order to better understand what the he’ll is going on in the most general sense of the term.

  6. I think it is extremely important that we interpret not only historical events, but the culture and ideologies that surrounded them. It’s important to remember that history is written by the victor, and oftentimes it can seem as if one side was more clearly “right” than the other when in fact it was far more complicated. For example, I have always been interested in the buildup to World War 2. I think it’s very interesting to examine the emotions surrounding Germany before Adolf Hitler was allowed to rise to power. To us, it seems very obvious that Hitler was a clearly bad choice. However, it’s important to examine the attitudes of defeat and hopelessness that surrounded the German population at the time that allowed something so horrific to happen. As several other people have mentioned, history repeats itself. If we don’t understand the meaning beyond the actual events that are represented in books, we won’t be aware of the implications going on in our own lives and current events.

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