“History teaches us that it teaches people nothing.” – Hagel

Statistically only 6% of the worlds population attends university, however our generation  is blessed with so many more means to knowledge than those of the past. So with all of the political and social issues of the world we would assume that we would revisit the world’s historical records and try to find a solution to many of our current and potential problems from our past. Unfortunately, even with our growing global knowledge we condemn so much of the world to the same predicaments that were experienced centuries ago.

I know this seems like the typical “learn from your past” lecture, but perhaps if a lecture is this many times, from various sources, it may just have a point. Maybe you’re just not listening. Now to get into the debate between the differences of what hearing and listening are is a completely different tangent.

Now before continuing on, I have to be upfront and admit that to all of this ranting and raving I have no solution. I do not pretend to be a woman with extensive social and economic knowledge to be able to find a solution to our current global predicaments through analysis of past civilizations. I am merely a woman with the basic knowledge of what my past history courses gave me.

When studying ancient civilizations, my freshman year of university, my professor began the semester telling us “If you take nothing from this course, just remember these 2 important lessons:

  1. Underestimating your enemy is a fatal mistake
  2. “History teaches us that it teaches us nothing.” – Hagel

I was reminded of this second point when writing an analysis of A Modest Proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the public (1729) written by Jonathan Swift. Jonathan Swift was one of those authors in the 18th century that pushed for the rights of the unfortunate through the written word. His main focus was on the inhumanity of poverty in the Anglo-Irish era. Famous for the satire used in this “proposal” of Swift’s we notice very simliar issues of poverty and income that many countries are suffering from today or find themselves in the fast track towards due to the recent (and current) global recession.

As I stated before, I do not pretend to be a woman with extensive social and economic knowledge to be able to find a solution to our current global predicaments through analysis of past civilizations. However, what I am pointing out is that with the world at our fingertips we can surely be able to link the best historic, economic and social minds of our time to find one. And maybe then we can finally look to the past and learn our lessons.

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4 thoughts on ““History teaches us that it teaches people nothing.” – Hagel

  1. Nice try Aisha…
    But I think you mean Hegel, the German philosopher. Not “Hagal’, Right?
    Anyway, I havn’t really got the way that Hegel’s quote served your idea. do you know that Karl Marx the father of Historical material theory, had built his historical vision to the world on Hegel studies??

    Back to the quote, I think Hegel was criticising people that they hadn’t learned anything from history, and the original say isn’t like what you’ve mancheted your material.

    I agree with the idea that we shouldn’t fall into history, where no messianic solution to your “current global predicaments”

    Regards

    • Thank you for your corrections Wael!

      Now I know I am no historian and believe I had stated that in my piece. But if I hadn’t, then you are absolutely right that some of my facts take an amateur’s point of view.

      As for Karl Marx, I think that all philosophers build off of one another and that an original idea is nearly impossible to come by. For example, did you know that Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was first theorized by Ibn Khaldoun?

      And that is my original point. Aristotle build off of Plato, and he from Socrates, and so on and so forth. But they built off of and contradicted one another which helped their theories define and evolve. However, if we (as a society) cannot define, contradict, and evolve from the mistakes of our predecessors. Then we have no hope to building a better future.

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