Does history repeat itself?

Pedro

Forum Staff
Mar 2008
17,151
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
Whether it is La Comédie humaine of Balzac or the Human Comedy of Saroyan I have to agree with you. Although I think a shift of any magnitude would be sufficient to break the cycle. Were you thinking of the last chapters of Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces?
Any how-- welcome to the History Forum and I'll try not to be such a name dropper in future posts.
 
Apr 2008
12
Ah yes, the hero's quest!

As to whether we can break the cycle, I suspect that H.G. Wells had it about right when he said:
"Human history . . . becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."
 

Pedro

Forum Staff
Mar 2008
17,151
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
Ah yes, the hero's quest!

As to whether we can break the cycle, I suspect that H.G. Wells had it about right when he said:
"Human history . . . becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."
As a long time observer of American education (and a brother with a Doctorate in education who insists on erasing my ignorance) I sadly believe that catastrophe has won; not only the race, but also the silver and bronze along with the gold.
 
Apr 2008
12
Very troubling thought, but I fear you're right. A complete sweep, at least for now.

Unfortunately, history offers little cause for comfort. The trenches of World War One made a mockery of any notion of the benevolence of technology or the inevitability of human progress. And those were the best-educated combatants in history. I think that at some deep level the Western psyche is still recovering from that one. At the very least the body count of the 20th Century has made it a bit trickier to deny the vast absurdity of mankind.

Indian metaphysics speaks of the degeneration of time, that humanity is in a long cycle of decline. I like to hope otherwise. Certainly the first toothache would send me running back to my time machine and frantically pressing "2008." (But please, don't land me in Baghdad.) Besides, without glasses I'd be the village idiot begging for food.

And life as a Roman galley slave or Polish Jew? No thanks.

But now the costs of our mistakes are much much higher. (Is it getting warm around here or is it just me?)
 

Pedro

Forum Staff
Mar 2008
17,151
On a mountain top in Costa Rica. yeah...I win!!
Very troubling thought, but I fear you're right. A complete sweep, at least for now.

Unfortunately, history offers little cause for comfort. The trenches of World War One made a mockery of any notion of the benevolence of technology or the inevitability of human progress. And those were the best-educated combatants in history. I think that at some deep level the Western psyche is still recovering from that one. At the very least the body count of the 20th Century has made it a bit trickier to deny the vast absurdity of mankind.

Indian metaphysics speaks of the degeneration of time, that humanity is in a long cycle of decline. I like to hope otherwise. Certainly the first toothache would send me running back to my time machine and frantically pressing "2008." (But please, don't land me in Baghdad.) Besides, without glasses I'd be the village idiot begging for food.

And life as a Roman galley slave or Polish Jew? No thanks.

But now the costs of our mistakes are much much higher. (Is it getting warm around here or is it just me?)
As things now stand American education is dominated by political considerations in the sense that loyalty is more essential than personality in a teacher; even university professors are subject to espionage and their activity to censorship. Education is also dominated by economic considerations for the present system is really a vested interest in the hands of text book publishers and a public more interested in proselytizing than in education. Ask a parent (or grandparent the problem is not new) what is their philosophy of education and the answer will be some form of “Learning should be Fun”. Fun children grow up to be fun adults. I love to invite fun adults to the party but I don’t hire them. A Doctor of Education recently told me that he had read a study that concluded that the present generation is the first generation to be dumber than the preceding generation. We are probably the first nation in history to celebrate its dummbing down. Exhibit: TV show called ‘Are you smarter than a fifth grader?’ You certainly aren’t if you even participate in such a show. I went into a convenience store and bought 19 dollars and 90 cents worth of goods. I handed the clerk a twenty dollar bill. He raised his hands as if to push me away. “I can’t change that!” he said with a slight panic in his voice. “All I need is a dime.” I said. Then the light went on. “Oh. Yeah. Right,” he said in incomplete sentences. My observation is that serious children are happy children. Need I point out that ‘happy’ and ‘fun’ are not the same thing? Probably.To get back to the question ‘Does history repeat itself’. I can’t say for sure. But history seems to be forgetting the words. To upgrade old Santayana, ‘Those who don’t study the past won’t know if they are repeating it or not.’