What is the importance of studying history?  

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The “importance" of anything is dependent on the circumstance – the “importance” of sugar depends on whether you are baking cookies or Zweiback; the “importance” of auto brakes depends on whether you are stopping or parked, etc.  So the “importance" of history is that the events of the past, large and small, have formed the present.  In order to use the present to shape the future (as far as we are capable of influencing the shape of the future), we need to see the forms, the structure, the actions that are universal in human nature and in the laws of physics/mathematics, and that are available to us to give a favorable substance to the future.  Studying history brings those forms and actions to our awareness, and they can then act as tools to give the future its shape.  For example, Athenian democracy and its actions that caused the Athenians to survive the Persian attacks serve as examples and models for subsequent democracy experiments, such as in the United States and in France.  Communism in Russia served to give shape to Communism in China.  The studying of history does not confine itself to memorizing dates, but to discerning patterns, following the logical consequences of actions, and weighing the elements of past events -- Leaders? Geography?  Technology? etc. – to predict, or at least influence, future outcomes.  Studying wars, for example, may not be as important as studying the failure of Peace Treaties.  What happened to the League of Nations, for example, and how can the United Nations avoid a similar fate?  If the colonies could form the United States, and Europe could form the European Union, what forces would bring the South American nations together?  Studying history, the past, is the act of learning how to deal with the present to shape a desirable Future.

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