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B . The Nature and Function of Historical Perspectives

"History repeats itself. Historians repeat each other."4 "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. . . . Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."5 "What experience and history teach is this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it."6 The inference in the foregoing statements is that people learn by making mistakes (and by overcoming obstacles), history is a record of the mistakes made (or the obstacles overcome), and if a person is unaware of the historical record set forth by the predecessors of that person, then said person is condemned to confront the same mistakes (or obstacles) with no clues as to how to proceed, and will most likely repeat the same mistakes as their predecessors did. When stated in that way, the lack of a historical perspective becomes a major failing of an individual (or an organization) because the individual (or organization) is therefore unprepared to confront the obstacles presented by every day living. Accordingly, whenever they are included as commentary upon a particular subject, historical perspectives are intended to be the necessary record of the human activities which led to the development of the various dogma, principles, and rules for life so that all members of the Agnostic Church might never forget why the dogma, principles, and rules of life were developed, and then will hopefully never err by either ignoring or revising a dogma, principle, or rule of life in a manner which has previously been found to be unworkable for one or more reasons stated.


4 Philip Guedalla, Supers and Supermen [1920], "Some Historians"

5 George Santayana, from The Life of Reason [1905-1906], Volume I, Reason in Common Sense, Chapter 12. The basic idea traces to Euripides [c. 485-406 BCE], "Whoso neglects learning in his youth,  Loses the past and is dead for the future." From Phrixus, fragment 927.

6 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Philosophy of History [1832], introduction, as quoted by George Bernard Shaw in The Revolutionist's Handbook. The underlying thought goes back at least to Thucydides [c. 460 - 400 BCE], cited by Dionysius of Halicarnassus [c. 54 - c. 7 BCE], "The contact with manners then is education; and this Thucydides appears to assert when he says history is philosophy learned from examples." (Ars Rhetorica, XI, 2.)

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