Why is history important to know?What do you think would happen if history was never written.and we knew nothing about the past

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is important for a culture to know where it's been if it is to make sound decisions as to where it's going.  For example, when one looks at the conditions in Europe that made the Holocaust possible, it becomes apparent that the horrors were more than just the mark of a sociopathic egomaniac (Hitler).  Although he was the leader who orchestrated the murder of six million Jews and five million others, such a thing might not have been possible if there hadn't already been a racial prejudice toward Jews extending back through history.  There was plenty of animosity toward Jews for Hitler to capitalize on, and his ideas were actually not even his own, but based on those of an Austrian named Karl Lueger and his Christian Social Party. 

So what does this mean for us?  One thing it suggests is that society as a whole, and we as individuals need to be very careful about condoning, or sitting silently by when racial prejudice rears its ugly head.  We must also be aware of what our government is doing, and raise our voices when it oversteps its bounds.  One of the first things the Nazi party did in consolidating power was to require the "registration" of Jews; law-abiding citizens complied, many of them perhaps hoping that their cooperation and loyalty would be rewarded--which, of course it was not.  We need to recognize when someone is discouraging us from thinking independently and/or questioning our patriotism when we don't agree with something or someone.  However, we cannot learn these lessons if we don't remember the history behind them, i.e. "those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it."

mimerajver eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All the above posts cast interesting and truthful views as to the importance of history. 

I'd like to add that a knowledge of history informs the present. Regardless of whether we can learn from past mistakes, since man is said to be the only animal who stumbles twice on the same stone, history helps us understand the world in which we live "as is."

If we take an active interest in evolution, many of the things we take for granted will acquire a new meaning. Some people contend that, as history is past -or so they think- it is also dead.

It would be wise to conceive of history both synchronically and diachronically. A synchronic view tells us of what was happening in the world at the same time. This shows us the diffences and similarities among cultures at every step of their development. A diachronic view shows us the links in the chains of events that have led mankind to its present state.

We generally like to know about our family history. In the big picture, History as a discipline explains the whys and wherefores of that extended family we call  the human race. 

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the importance of learning from past mistakes, but I would argue that the real importance of history lies in the skills and habits of mind that are part of historical practice. Learning obscure facts about long-dead people is not history. It is the study of the past. History involves thinking critically, and, most importantly, evaluating the actions of past people in their context. This involves a set of critical thinking skills that are not necessarily present in other disciplines.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to, once again, support pohnpei's answer. Knowing history is important because it teaches one how not to repeat the mistakes which have been made in the past.

Outside of that, as with literature, history is important so that one can understand the time period the piece is written in. Some students may not understand a piece of literature unless they know the historical setting it was placed in.

shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To really understand another nation and another culture, you have to know something about their history. Look at how little we understand about Middle Eastern cultures--the average American knows nothing about the history of Iraq or  or Iran, yet we are in constant conflict in the Middle East. If we understood these cultures better we would probably have better relationships with them.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We would be more likely to make mistakes.  I think that we do actually learn something from our mistakes.  Maybe we don't learn those lessons well enough at times, but I think that we do learn.  If we knew nothing about the past, we could keep on making the same mistakes over and over again.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler promised "change."  The Germans did, indeed, get change.  In the 2008 Democratic Campaign was based upon the word change. What might have happened if people had knowledge of the previous usage of this word?

shunya803 | Student

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myramira | Student
Why is history important to know?

What do you think would happen if history was never written.and we knew nothing about the past

We will be totally lost if we know nothing about our past. History is one of the most important things we should know more about. The knowledge of what has happened in the past will be our guide in the future. As what we always say, we learn from the past experiences of our ancestors. Through it, we could be able to better know of ourselves and to become a successful person. Not just being educated but cultured and nurtured of our norms and traditions. Through history, we also learn to appreciate all significant people, events and places we had in the past and continue to treasure them in our lives up to the next generation.

astrosonuthird | Student

can a person become succesfull if he don't study history.


I think YES!!!!!!!

astrosonuthird | Student

you are right!

lucianoeusebio | Student
Why is history important to know?

What do you think would happen if history was never written.and we knew nothing about the past

it will be a computer without RAM, we need memory to be able to revise our knowledge on something but without memory it something else, we will be blank in our mind and souls

lucianoeusebio | Student

it is important to learn as it's a study of man's origin als it enable us to predict the future time with reference on the present or past example, in religion they say it will be a dooms day, by looking how our world of taday goes such as enemity among nations, starvation in most of African countries and Asia. So through history study we are able to learn on how societies change with environment they leave, by historical study we will be able to know changes which might occured if something happen, as we can see the primary cause for the world war 1&2. So most of problem will be able to be solved through taking historical background of the particular problem also by reffered on how those in past solve such problem although other problem maybe occur for the first time despite that the way used to solve such problem in present will also be use by next generation.

inivsha-nanhsirk | Student

So that we don't repeat the mistakes of the idiots in the past.

astrosonuthird | Student

Ok! If I need something in History. Will you help?

glgoodrich | Student

Among other things, yes. In history I have taught nearly every major area and a great deal of the minor areas. I will be teaching ancient history in the coming year, as well as the history of the fine arts (dating back to ancient times, of course).

astrosonuthird | Student

Hello! glgood.  Are you a history teacher?

glgoodrich | Student

I forgot my conclusion...

Therefore, to lose all information about the past is not just to lose the stories of the American Civil War, the siege of Troy, etc. It is to lose all accumulated knowledge altogether. We would have to start from the basics in math, science, agriculture, and so on. It. That would be catastrophic indeed.

glgoodrich | Student

History, generally speaking, is what has gone before. There is a history to every aspect of life. There is the history of science. There is the history of baseball. There is family history and personal history. There is history of a nation and history of a geographical area. In order to understand anything in its fullness, one must understand what has gone before in that subject?

astrosonuthird | Student

So, history is important.

shell328 | Student
Why is history important to know?

What do you think would happen if history was never written.and we knew nothing about the past

We wouldn't know if we were making misstakes or not. You can see that if we make note of what is happeing around us  it will happen again. Like fashion always seems to come back in style.

astrosonuthird | Student

If you are from USA suppose, it is very important to know the History of your own country or it is of a great shame.



By the way I too don't know

astrosonu | Student

o yes ethotheeyepi

nikasho0100 | Student

Its important as lot of people learn from past. It even distinguishes even countries and even shows the nature or backround of an individulal, coujntry ect.

Its all intresting to know stuff. Dont u think**********

najm1947 | Student

In reply to 15:

The link provided by Eto gives an account of the ethnic violence in Pakistan today but it was not always like this.

Although most Sunnis and Shiites live peacefully together, extremists from both sides have targeted each other over the past three decades.


The things have changed since increased interest of west and especially US in Muslim world and especially Iraq and Afghanistan. The ethnic division has become more pronounced. It is just like the presence of East India Company in the subcontinent where Hindus and Muslims were living peacefully. The British adopted the policy of divide and rule. The same is happening in Pakistan since the presence of west in the region. History is repeating itself. Pakistan has been forced to become a non-NATO ally to serve the purpose of US.

Pakistanis know who is on the back of this ethnic divide and who is financing it. The rulers in Pakistan do not say it because they have been planted by them through a brokered agreement.

etotheeyepi | Student

If we must repeat history, must it be like this:


astrosonu | Student

Oh yes mian!! but isn't it boring. 

mian-j | Student

Just try to think what would happen if you didn't know your history....

najm1947 | Student

Excellent concluding remark in post 10:

 "those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it." - lhc

But then why we don't see US and India killing only Muslims in the name of so called "war on terror" or "terrorism"? isn't there any thing learnt from the fate of Hitler?

Cann't we be wise enough to find other ways to live in peace and let the others live in peace too? Why the occupation forces be there in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kashmir and continue killing in the name of peace?

susdas | Student

History is important to know as because we can from the mistakes from the past which the people had done before and so by knowing history we are quite able to correct those mistakes. More over we can learn about the life of great and famous people of all time as the modern age started from the period of Renaissance.

salimj | Student

I like all the comments made by the debaters. My humble opinion is that when you learn history we learn human tendency it can be good and bad. From this study we can analyse the behavior and we can learn a lot from the lives of the people who have walked in our path long ago.

najm1947 | Student

If history is to learn from mistakes then I wonder why did America choose to enter in to war in Afghanistan. Why Americans did not learn a lesson from the fate of Great Britain empire where the sun never set or U.S.S.R. Both unions were not only defeated but eventually broke in to pieces.

najm1947 | Student

Yes, I agree with post #2 by pohnpei:

"We would be more likely to make mistakes."

"Maybe we don't learn those lessons well enough at times,"

But we are not learning these lessons. We have not learned any lessons from the history of civilisations with reference to the way those civilisations perished. There might not be documented evidence in the books of history but the archaeological evidence is there and if corroborated with the narrations in the Scriptures, we can make conclusions.

Archaeology provides answers to "How" and religion to "Why" about the perished civilisations. But for most of the people, religion is a story of the past. Who cares?

So if we have to rely on history, we better study contemporary fiction with it to get a clear picture.