"History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illuminates reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life, and brings us tidings of antiquity." Cicero 1
"What experience and history teach is this-that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it." G. W. F. Hegel 1
"History does nothing, possesses no enormous wealth, fights no battles. It is rather man, the real, living man, who does everything, possesses, fights. It is not History, as if she were a person apart, who uses men as a means to work out her purposes, but history itself is nothing but the activity of men pursuing their purposes." Karl Marx 1
During the 18th and 19th Centuries, history and what it means underwent a major transformation. As we read in the Romanticism chapter, von Herder described history as a dynamic process. He also went on to add that each historical epoch had its own characteristics.
While today, we might see this insight and say, "duh!", others would disagree. Rush Limbaugh, famous conservative radio show talk, has said that history is simple: facts are facts, in essence, indisputable. However, most historians would say that history is about how you interpret those facts.
For instance, there was a terrorist attack on America on Sept. 11, 2001 (by saying the event was a terrorist attack is including my interpretation of the event). How would someone interpret this event? Do you deal with just the facts only? How do you deal with the facts when they are being seriously questioned - even if some of the questioners are using dubious physics and logic? And do we have all of the facts?
If you interpret this event, from what angle do you do this? Do you agree with George Bush that we were attacked by "enemies of freedom" in "a world where freedom itself is under attack"? 2 That we were attacked for no reason than pure hatred?
Or do you interpret the terrorist attack as the end result of American foreign policy in the Middle East - our inability to solve the Palestinian problem, our support of Arab dictators in exchange for cheap oil? That we were attacked b/c the U.S. abused its power and spread poverty throughout the affected countries?
Or do you interpret the attacks as something different: the forces of modernity (America) vs. medievalism (radical brand of Islam)? That this attack has little or nothing to do with either thesis listed before but has more to do with a battle of civilizations in a fight for supremacy of the world?
The Question: In essence, when you examine history, do you use the facts only or do you use the facts to make an interpretation of what has happened?
Use the 9/11/01 example if you like, or come up with one of your own.
200 words minimum, due Monday 11/9/09.