• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

History as a way of understanding the Present

Extracts from this document...


The study of History is a way of understanding the Present At first glance, this statement might seem rather odd. Its paradoxical nature makes it seem almost like nonsense at first. History is generally considered the study of the past. It is seen as the analysis and developed understanding of past events and figures and not something related to our present. However, in reality, history is much more than just a mere study of the past. The importance of history lies much more in the way it opens up the present. As R.G. Collingwood once said, "the value of history, then, is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is". History is a key element in understanding not only who we were but more importantly, who we are now and how we came to be this way. This essay will discuss history as a way of knowing and explore the idea of the study of History being a way of understanding the present. ...read more.


This study is the perfect example of history teaching us who we are and why we are this particular way. According to Collingwood, "knowing yourself means knowing what you can do [...] the only clue to what man can do is what man has done". He argues that in order for us to know what we are capable of as human beings we have to look into our history. Our past will teach us what we are capable of because it shows us what we have been capable of before. This idea is regarding both the positive and negative capabilities of man. History shows all the amazing things humans can do ranging from the construction of the pyramids to the creation of renaissance art to the discovery of antibiotics. However, it also shows what great evils man is capable of such as the Holocaust and the enslavement of Africans. The study of history can therefore reveal what human beings now can do. ...read more.


History is obviously one of the most important and consequential ways of knowing. It might seem like a dead or boring subject as it is often thought of as the simple memorizing of dates, battles and important figures. In reality, it is much more than that. It is the key element to understanding our present and defining our future. It is vital to our understanding of who we are as human beings and what it means to be a human being in our present day world. We are our history and our past and without it, we are reduced to nothing. Even though we know far from everything and what we know is nothing more but an interpretation of a recreated past in our minds, it is still vital to who we are. "History is the intellectual form in which a civilization renders account to itself of its past", the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga said. He managed to capture the essence of the importance of history. It is our way of defining who we are and who we will be by who we were. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. TOK summer assignment - Art Questions. Experiencing art, artists reputations and "what is ...

    Nature, Mathematics, and Art 4. After you are through gallery A114, go into the garden. There is a metal piece of art which looks like DNA. You are allowed to play with this if you choose. Look at the plants more closely.

  2. TOK History Essay

    Mathematics holds a certain truth and it is upon the problem-solver to find it. The way that the problem-solver interprets the symbols in Mathematics is seen as an interpretation of language and is often a barrier for the problem-solver trying to seek the truth.

  1. Tok Chap 1-3

    Knowledge and information * Drilling random facts into someone's mind may be good for quiz shows but it does not lead to genuine understanding. * A person with genuine knowledge does not merely have information about it but understands how the carious parts are related to one another to form a meaningful whole.

  2. In what way does the problem of evil lead to atheism?

    be for everybody: "He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good".

  1. A Discussion of the Understanding of Religion In the Lights of Relativity and Interpretation

    Some Christians believe that a demon can get inside a person's body and gain control of it. This is called demonic possession, and it produces behavior that resembles mental illness. According to the gospels, Jesus had the power to expel a demon from a victim simply by ordering it to leave.

  2. How does the way we express ourselves influences our understanding of others

    which even does not exists for example on the number, for example 23). How do I personally understand the expression of myself? This is another side of reflection. Reflection is self recognizing and expression is telling who you are to the others.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work