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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Classical History and the Future

I strongly recommend visiting Professor John Lewis website (see links). I recently listened to Lewis taped course "Ideas and the Fall of Rome" and am currently taking his taped course "Greco-Persian Wars". His numerous articles and lectures are linked as well.

Often, classical and ancient history can seem incredibly boring or irrevelant if presented in the typical history book way which is to list king after king, date after date, place after place, battle after battle with no overall context or sense of the essential meaning of the events. This factoid approach strips history of its essential purpose which Professor Lewis eloquently states on his home page starting with the question "why study history?":

"We exist in an causal, understandable universe. If human beings choose to act in certain ways, then certain results must follow. The past offers us a vast palette of human events illustrating this principle. To understand the future we must understand what people have thought, and done, in the past, and why. When we learn about history we can understand not only that things happen, but also why they happen, and why they will, or will not, continue to happen."

In short, he presents history in way that is both entertaining and practical. Particularly, his relation of past conflicts to the present struggle of the West against Islamic totalitariansim is fascinating and provides a road map for how we should and should not defend civilization. In a previous post, I link to his recent article in The Objective Standard which I believe is a must read for anyone interested in understanding today's conflict.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Throw the history books away...let the teachers enact history in a way that brings it to life. I have heard too many people say, "what good is history or a history major in college?" History is one of our most important subjects as it teaches us the mental, physical and spiritual life of those whose lives and actions define us at this moment in time.