Search This Blog

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of History

Here are a few words to suggest how I see history.

The word 'history' meant knowledge. It means that now, but its meaning has been greatly broadened. Then, as we know, knowledge is broad. A 'histor' was a learned man, a knower, a seer, a person of good wit. More recently we have called 'knowledge learned by inquiry,' history. Now we know history largely as a written account of ones inquiries. There are also those who know history as a historia, a history, a story. It could be fictitious, a partially true excuse, or a big lie.

I take the above into my understanding of history. Using history as a noun I take it to mean 'knowledge useful in the development of wisdom.' I usually expect it to be presented as a narrative. I also take 'history' as a synonym for 'the search for knowledge useful to me.' I use it as the name for the tool and method for finding that knowledge.

'To enquire' or 'to inquire' I use to mean 'to question.' 'To question' is the process of formulating questions and of finding answers. If you go to history without a question, you may be only entertained or diverted. To get an answer you must have a question, even if it be the question of another.

So, to me history is an activity, it is a doing.

Most dictionaries you may consult will 'say' something like 'history is a narrative of past events.' So, if I tell you how I made coffee this morning of how I got Susie to sleep with me last night, that's history. If you don't pay the money you owe, you might be history. You can learn from your history or from the history of another. A history may very well be an explanation of developments. Each historical narrative is an interpretation of happenings.

Speaking a bit of the history of history you may find it useful to realize that much history has been the work of rulers and philosophers. You might call a ruler a leader, and a philosopher a scientist. These are persons who have questions of power. They read and write history to extend and enhance their power. A teacher of history may be paid to help you to develop and enhance your power.

No comments:

Post a Comment