Sunday, April 6, 2008

On Knowing History

Cicero: "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child."

Winston Churchill: "Study history. Study history."


Daniel said...

I was thinking about something else in the video/book. Schaeffer was talking about the bridges that the Roman Empire had built to cross over rivers and streams throughout their elaborate road system. The bridges can hold a person walking across them or even a wagon full of goods. But if a modern day truck were to go over these bridges they would collapse.

It made me think about the idea of living in the present versus planning for the future. Now, granted, no one could have predicted that the transportation of goods would go from a horse drawn wagon to an eighteen wheeler truck. But the principled idea goes deeper than that.

I think because of the Romans ethno-centrism and the narcissism that tells me they don't have a concept of planning for the future--- for future generations, future planning or anything like that. They were just living in the here and now. Just look at the perverse behavior at Pompeii for a good example of that. But Pompeii is in ruins, and the Roman Empire is now in the history books. What is made of man will be of rubble, but what is made of God will triumph.

Doug Groothuis said...

One of the signs of cultural decay is excessive sensuality and "the future be damned" approach. You see this in Europe today. When considering the long run, may of them say, "I'll be dead by then. Who cares?" There is no sense of the stewardship of history and the future.

Many of our products break in short order. Craftsmanship has declined. (Some) books sell bundles and quickly go out of print.

Without being pretentious, we should consider what our legacy might be--the effects of our life on the lives of others today and tomorrow. As Schaeffer said, our lives make ripples that extend out into eternity.

Clint said...

Another interesting quote:

History is Philosophy teaching by examples.


Doug Groothuis said...


I like that. Events in history do illustrate philosophical ideas, if we interpet them correctly. Of course, we need to apply the philosophical categories, to we need to know them.