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Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ (George Santayana). Do...

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mimi07 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 17, 2010 at 11:08 PM via web

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Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ (George Santayana). Do you agree with this statement?

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ (George Santayana). Do you agree with this statement?

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sormer | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 17, 2010 at 11:14 PM (Answer #2)

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Yes, i do agree with this statement, alot of mistakes have been made in the past, remembering those mistakes and correcting them helps to shape the future. Remembrance helps to examine and change habitual patterns of behavior, so as to have a positive impact on the present and future.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 17, 2010 at 11:29 PM (Answer #3)

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The study of history is often times the study of patterns, so yes, I do agree.  One example that leaps to mind is the British experience during the American Revolution and the American experience during Vietnam.  There are striking similarities between the two events strategically and tactically, it's just that in the Vietnam example, we were the British.  We ignored the lessons of the past in terms of empires trying to control distant colonies with strong desires for independence, and history essentially repeated itself.

Human behavior and human nature does not change radically over time, so studying human history can be an accurate predictor of future behavior as well.

 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 18, 2010 at 2:58 AM (Answer #4)

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I would have to agree with it as a student of History.  It seems that the quote is one of those elements that most students of History have to sort of accept as helping to constitute a fundamental part of reality.  It is similar to how teachers have to accept the premises of films like "Dead Poets Society."  It becomes such a part of individual identity that one has little choice but to accept it as truth.  Indeed, the study of the past, especially with misjudgments and errors that have been committed, can shed some light on how to progress in the future and the present.  I think that being able to analyze mistakes done in the past and being able to fully grasp how individuals function in this setting in other time periods can help to provide a base of learning and a model for future understanding.

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted May 18, 2010 at 3:09 AM (Answer #5)

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There can be no question of disagreeing because the statement exudes universal wisdom. To not remember the past is to forget experience that had gone by and also to forget lesson to be had therefrom. History is said to repeat itself because we do not remember the experiences as well as the lessons of the past.

Time is a continuum. So is history. Past, Present and Future are all imagined segments of the continuum. We may remember T.S.Eliot's famous line in 'Four Quartets'--'Time past and time present are both contained in time future'. We are supposed to remember our past and learn lessons from it. History shows patterns of repetitions, the same errors being repeated and the same disasters re-run. The word 'condemned' seems to me to be the most crucial indicator of the destiny of mankind trapped in the black-hole of forgetfulness.

 

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lfawley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted May 18, 2010 at 4:49 AM (Answer #6)

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I completely agree with this statement. Just take a look at the history of the United States. We are a country that is founded on the concept of freedom, yet we created ourselves by abridging the freedom of an entire group of people who were already living here. When Columbus first arrived, he sent out search parties (he detailed this in his letters back to Spain) to see if he could find a king or kingdoms. He saw nothing but small hamlets and many people, but he describes them as being nothing of note. They were, from the start almost, regarded as savages (this is a prime example of cultural arrogance) and enslaved. We repeated this same process once again with slavery of African Americans. During WWII we were apalled by Hitler and the way he treated the Jews. However, we were doing something similar to the Black population on our own soil. Perhaps we were not actively sending them to their deaths, but we were isolating them bu keeping them in poverty in a similar fashion to the way in which we isolated the Native Americans on their reservations. We continue to repeat this process through wage based slavery of the lower classes in our society today. We have not learned from our history, and our current social divide and the economic struggles it engenders are living proof of this fact.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 18, 2010 at 5:34 AM (Answer #7)

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I will disagree.  I think that those who do remember the past are condemned to repeat it in slightly different ways nonetheless.

The reason for this is that there are so many different ways to "remember" the past.  For example, one of the first answers mentioned Vietnam and the Revolutionary War and said that the US should have learned that you can't win a war like that.

However, what if you instead "remember" the lesson of WWII when you think about Vietnam.  The lesson of WWII is that you do not let a dangerous regime spread.  Instead, you fight it at all costs.  In that case, it was right to fight communism instead of trying to appease it.  If that is the case, then what we should have done in Vietnam would be to have fought harder.

At any rate, it's not as if the past is sending us one message that is easy to read.  So knowing history can give us hints, but it cannot prevent us from making the same mistakes as have been made in the past.

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usbummer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 24, 2010 at 5:38 PM (Answer #8)

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I'm not sure it matters much as far as the question of repeating it is concerned. Each new generation has a different set of circumstances which change entirely the question's equation. A different approach to  a repeating event might result in a different ending (or maybe not). It seems each new generation must try its own solutions to past lessons - learned on not.

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ako6777 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted June 7, 2010 at 12:01 PM (Answer #9)

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I agree with this statement.  Look at how many families perpetuate violence, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancies. It is not necessarily that they don't know the past as they have not learned from the past.  It we really sat down and looked at how things have gone wrong for us we can prevent them from happening again.  It may take some effort on the individual's part but it is worth it.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 21, 2011 at 2:14 PM (Answer #10)

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I agree and disagree. This is true in history and in our daily lives, to some extent. The idea is that if we forget the mistakes we make, we will make them again. Unfortunately, we do repeat the same mistakes over and over again. History is a repetition of the same disasters. We make the same mistakes in our own lives.

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