Hegel on Learning from History
“We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”
Why don’t people learn from history?
There is an assumption in this previous question that should be questioned: “Is history worth learning from?” or “Can we actually learn from history?”
Let’s take the example of war, after each war we research what we did right and wrong in the project in order to implement the conclusions on the next war, always to find that the next war is so different from the previous one; that we can only implement part of the conclusions and encounter new challenges, strategies, and weaponry.
Another example to test the functionality of history would be the political situation in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon, an intriguing country in the area. Lebanese people, have for decades, elected and praised the same parasitical leaders as a result of their prejudices and different religious orientations. In Lebanon they like to call it “Coexistence” and “Diversity”. Furthermore, these religious leaders have led Lebanon to its downfall to say the least. As a result, Lebanese people so far have proven that they can’t wrap their heads around their history or any history. What I can say to them is the following: To be independent of public opinion is the first formal condition of achieving anything great.
If we go back to the arising question, first of all I think that humanity does advance which means that we do learn something from the past, however I claim that most lessons that our ancestors learned in the past are not relevant to the challenges that we face today. They may seem similar but are actually not, or are they?
In summary, we learn from history that we do not learn from history.