March 16, 2005

“does history repeat itself?”

History repeats itself or "does history repeat itself?" It is an argument and a question which comes under the realm of philosophy of history and philosophy of knowledge.
There can be a very long answer to this query. The reason is that it relates to field of knowledge and brings into preview the achievements of other sciences also.
A qualified answer to this query is that it is not true that history repeats itself. History is a study of "continuity and change". History is a function to two variables which are space and time. The time is a variable which is never fixed and continue to change and therefore, never two events, regardless of their similarity, are replication of each other. Second variable space is of a wider definition in history. It does not refer only to a geographical space. It takes into its valuation the whole milieu in which a particular event had taken place at particular point of time. With change in time, the dimension of space as it is considered in history also changes. Therefore, while studying history, it is argued that it is difficult to have scientific evaluation in history because history does not deal with fixed facts. The subject matter of history is always in flux. Well that is another discussion. In order to substantiate the above answer I would like to give an example. A child is born. Then the child grows into a small five year old who has acquired recognizable features and habbits. Latter this child grows and becomes a teenager. The facial contour changes further. After some time, the child becomes a full grown adult. Gradually that adult grows and becomes an old person. It is the same child but there are countless changes which had taken place in his or her case. If you do not have this perception, you would not able to appreciate the fact that the old man was the same child. But that old man is also a fact in itself. Both these statements are true. The Old man is a fact distinctive from the child. The old man is a continuity of the same child. However, he is not repetition.
Further, it is history, which has yet not enunciated any law or right rules which are mainly the feature of natural sciences which are basically filed of study of fixed facts. History is the oldest subject after philosophy which has yet to acquire its youth. It is said that every one read history, any one can make history but there are few who can understand history and write history.

As far as the generalization and final wisdom is concerned, history will give such rules in coming future. For the present, it is mental ability and maturity of perception of a reader that decides what the reader would learn from history. A Politician would like it use as a propaganda material. A film producer may find a sensational story out of it. A mature leader would find direction and justification for his struggle. A nation may find the cement to keep its people united. The humanity receives its perception from history. But as far as such types of generalization are concerned, they are debatable issues till the final judgement is given on the issue of passing generalizations in history.
Special Note:

This is an article which
was once published on history section. Why did they remove it, I do not
know. Irene, the H-Host first acknowledged them and found them great but after
they had removed the article I was not able to log in again and they neither
responded to my mails.

I also intend to thank who had republished it on July 11, 2004 at their post and helped to preserve this writeup.

I place my thanks to them here.

Sumir Sharma

Today, March 16, 2005

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