Arthur N asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it?

Is this statement true, why or why not?

Also if it is true why does it seem that each generation needs to learn the lesson of the past over and over the hard way?


7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    According to Woodrow Wilson, things stand exactly so; "A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know what it is today. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about." Woodrow Wilson - which means we are generally doomed, due to the prevailing popular opinion that "history is bunk"- as says the (in?)famous Henry Ford- among students. Ignorance regarding the subject most probably stems from such (lame) reasons as "well, if I major in history, I won't be able to find a job, except maybe teaching."

    Ignorance of any subject is not a particularly promising recipe for success via future changes.

    To actually answer your question, however...

    To begin with, one must consider the concep of "free will" and whether or not it exists; if not, the we remain marooned in the Calvinist doctribnes of predestination (God already knows how your whole life will unravel, and he determines everything that will happen- you have no role in your future)- but if it dies, then history- complete with World War II and American Imperialism- has been the consequence of purely human choices.

    Essentially, human beings learn by "doing"; a project may seem like a "good idea'" until just before it is implemented- look at the Bolshevic Revolution in Russian history, for instance; the beginning of the domination of Marxism (and the eventual murder of millions by the few in order to propogate "the idea" of economic equality SEEMED justified to the participants- "the ends justify the means," right?- but is now universally condemned as one of the bloodiest events in history.

    Yet it was far from the "first time" something comparable had occured- people have been telling "white lies" for generations; (Hitler just happened to be the first to tragically exploit the idea that "tell people a lie often enough, and hey will come to believe it"); honestly, ignorance of history (perhaps in combination of widespread apathy/and/or lack of desire to use/lack of possession of/ critical analytical hinking skills (dependng on how cynical one wants to be) causes this phenomenon.

    Hope that helps, and Good Luck!

    Source(s): THE AMERICAN PAGEANT - Kennedy; an A in both A.P. European, A.P. U.S. History
  • Mark S
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Human beings have an advantage over a lot of creatures, because we have a more exact form of verbal communication and even a written communication that can survive our deaths.

    Why then do we repeat mistakes? There is a tendency in humans to consider themselves terminally unique, as if they will be the sole exception to some principle. Most people have to make their own mistakes. And there is also the tendency that we can go into, say, Iraq, and believe it will be different from going into Korea, but only in hindsight do we realize the similarity, because we are sure this will be more like the liberation of France in World War II instead.

  • 1 decade ago

    This statement means that those who are ignorant to history will repeat the mistakes others have made in history. For example the Iraq war has really hurt Iraq, if no one learns from this other countries could be invaded incorrectly and be cast into chaos

  • 4 years ago

    If you believe that individuals, a people, a society, a nation are the evolutionary successors to what came before (and I don't mean that in a Darwinian sense in the micro, at least), then the statement is undeniably true. Today, based on the past, we should all know that---torture, for example---is not a good thing. We should all know a lot of things that were tried in the past,and just didn't "work out". So, we should avoid those things. That, it seems to me, is an objective kind of thing. The reason that some of the time we "revisit" the errant ways of the past, is because we are subjective entities, not objective data collectors/computers. "Human frailty" has a lot to do with it, and "human frailty" is the one very large common denominator. No?

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  • 1 decade ago

    It certainly seems to be true. Historical conflicts arise over the same darn causes, generation after generation. Why does each generation have to learn the lessons of the past the hard way? That's a hard one to answer, my friend. I guess humans aren't as smart as we like to think we are.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    not intirely true. history never repeats itself, but it continues in a pattern. and if people want to succed then they need to break away from the pattern. the only way to do this would be to learn from past mistakes. that is what the saying is about, learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.

  • 1 decade ago

    I think it was Karl Marx who said, "History repeats itself; the first time as tragedy, the next time as farce."

    Henry Ford said, "History is basically bunk."

    Napoleon Buonaparte said, "History is a fable, agreed upon."

    I forget who wrote, "History is written by the winners."

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