Monday, November 19, 2007

Learning from the Past?

"While it is true that certain historical examples of goodness may be brought to bear for the moral education of children and the elevation of their minds in order to impress them with what is morally admirable, it is also true that the destinies of nations and states--with their interests, situations, and complexities--are a different field of knowledge. Rulers, statesmen, and nations are told that they ought to learn from the experience of history. Yet what experience and history teaches us is this, that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, nor acted in accordance with the lessons to be derived from it. Each era has such particular circumstances, such individual situations, that decisions can only be made from within the era itself. In the press of world events, there is no help to be had from general principles, nor from the memory of similar conditions in former times--for a pale memory has no force against the vitality and freedom of the present." [GWF Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History, Pg. 7-8]


x said...

Is this contrary to conventional wisdom which tells us "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"?

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