on the value of history

I like Schopenhauer. I think he put a lot of thought in his work. He was wrong on occasion for example on his view of women but in general, I like to think he was a great thinker and that he needs more recognition than he got during his life and probably even after his demise. He built a monument that should be admired, devoured and understood.

In World as will and representation Vol 3 on the subject of history, he writes

What reason is to the individual, history is to the human race. By virtue of reason, man is not, like the brute, limited to the narrow perceptible present, but also knows the incomparably more extended past, with which it is linked, and out of which it has proceeded, and only thus, has he a proper understanding of the present itself, and can even draw inferences as to the future.

[..] Only through history does a nation become completely conscious of itself. Accordingly history is to be regarded as the rational consciousness of the human race, and is to the race what the reflected and connected consciousness is to the individual who is conditioned by reason, a consciousness through the want of which the brute is confined to the narrow perceptible present.

Therefore every gap in history is like a gap in the re-collective self-consciousness of a person, and in the presence of a monument of ancient times which has outlived the knowledge of itself, as for example the Pyramids, or temples and palaces in Yucatan, we stand as senseless and stupid as the brute in the presence of the action of man, in which it is implicated in his service , or as a man before something written in an old cipher of his own, the key to which he has forgotten.

History is to be regarded as the reason, or reflected self consciousness, of the human race and takes the place of an immediate self consciousness common to the whole race, so that by virtue of it does the human race come to be a whole, come to be a humanity.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

19 thoughts on “on the value of history

  1. Such an appropriate person to reflect on in these trying times when reason seems to have been cast aside and madness is overtaking populations of peoples. Have a nice week my friend.


    • makagutu says:

      Have a pleasant week too.
      History tells us at different epochs men, mostly men, have led others to war and plunder for the same reasons. We seem to never learn.


  2. ladysighs says:

    Just saying “Hi” since you’ve been away a couple days. 🙂
    No, didn’t read this post. 😦 Probably need to read Vol 1 and Vol 2 before attempting. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. john zande says:

    He writes superbly, which makes me wonder if he was also a good orator.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. An interesting post, thanks for sharing it with us all 🙂


  5. Excellent post, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. themodernidiot says:

    From fellow blogger Bob:
    Children in America who attend some sort of religious school, even before going to secular school, may learn some limited sort of ancient history. Ancient in that it concerns purported people and events from millennia ago. Limited in that some number of those people and events, however instructional and enlightening, may be of some historical […]
    Why We Should Teach and Learn Ancient History First
    education, China, history, Bible, U.S., India, Native America, religion, I Ching


  7. Scottie says:

    I love history, it was my favorite subject in school and one I got the greatest marks on… However what worries me is that the recorded history is often written by the victors of wars, the most wealthy and those who have a reason to distort what we now have recorded. I think that is why it is so important for scientists to study all of the past, to find what is true and what is just made up to make some look better. I think the saying that those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it is so very true, look at the current election in the USA. Thanks and hugs


    • makagutu says:

      I love history too.
      I think it is Mencken who says history would be richer if it were written by the actors themselves, for example, we would be richer knowing what was it that drove Xerxes if he could have left us with his story.
      But I understand your pov, that history is written by the victors and many times they don’t tell the whole story.
      Unfortunately I don’t think

      I think the saying that those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it is so very true, look at the current election in the USA

      is true. The converse is most likely to be the more true. Those who learn from history are more bound to repeat it. For example you’d think after the losses suffered in Vietnam, the US army would learn not to invade other states, well, I think you and I see a different thing.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Scottie says:

        I see what you mean. Maybe both can be true. I wonder if I should have said those who don’t UNDERSTAND history …. would that have made more sense? I think that it depends on the person’s goals, if they want to repeat a thing that happened they will work toward that, but if they are simply not aware that what they are doing will lead to something..What do you think? Thanks and hugs


  8. Charlie King says:

    That was just beautiful and exactly what I needed to hear today to support what I was thinking would be the best way for us to reach a perfect morality without religion.


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