History is Our Fiction


When I studied history in college I was taught to view history as a series of ongoing arguments and not a list of things which truly happen or a list of key dates to memorize so I could win in the next Trivial Pursuit. This is more true, I think, than we give it credit. I accept the philosophy and encourage others to accept it as well.

This is not a Grand Narrative, but rather, an enforcement for critical thinking. Critical Thinking is, in itself the origin of skepticism. Skepticism argues to reject everything first. This is partly true, but what is more important is to view things critically. Dissect it with a fine surgical knife.

If history were taught in regular school like it is in college then, I feel, more people would find it just as fascinating as I do.

After George W. Bush left the White House with two wars still going on and a bankrupt nation he argued that he believed history would prove he did not right thing. He’s not totally wrong. Many still feel much of what Bush during his presidency were acts of evil or were wrong. Others disagree. But ultimately, the argument will be ongoing for as long as there are human beings who take interest in what happened in the past. A generation might decide George W. Bush was one of best presidents. Or another generation might argue he was one of worse. It really depends on the argument. The argument being made is often a reflection of how historians react to the current world they reside.

But history is not a line of chronological events. History is not long line of progress. History does not tell us we are headed in one direction or another. It does not give order to the chaos that is humanity. History offers instead a warning. History offers more examples. Examples we should try to learn from. An argument we should take a moment to listen and see what critical analysis we might from from it.

But if thought is to become the possession of many, not the privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back — fear lest their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should prove harmful, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have supposed themselves to be. ~ Bertrand Russell (Principles of Social Reconstruction)


Originally published at www.jordanaubryrobison.com on March 24, 2014.

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