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Philosophy of History: Quotations


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 20 December 2004 - 04:37 PM

“Disobedience in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and rebellion.” Oscar Wilde

“In history one is absolutely sickened, not by the original crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishment that the good have inflicted.” Oscar Wilde

"We get our ethics from our history and judge our history by our ethics." Ernst Troeltsch

“The task of the historian is to understand the peoples of the past better than they understand themselves.” Herbert Butterfield

“History has to be rewritten in every generation, because although the past does not change the present does; each generation asks new questions of the past, and finds new areas of sympathy as it re-lives different aspects of the experiences of its predecessors.” Christopher Hill

“There are few activities more cooperative than the writing of history. The author puts his name brashly on the title-page and the reviewers rightly attack him for his errors and misinterpretations; but none knows better than he how much his whole enterprise depends on the preceding labours of others.” Christopher Hill

“Everyone is a reactionary about subjects he understands.” Robert Conquest

“An unjust war doesn't matter very much until it happens. The fact that it happens, especially when so many people are against it, does not suddenly justify it. Every day of slaughter strengthens the case against it, and the urgency of the need to protest against it.” Paul Foot

“Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.” Duke of Wellington

“The man who sees both sides of a question is a man who sees absolutely nothing at all.” Oscar Wilde

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck by the difference between what things are and what they might have been.” William Hazlitt.

“History is but a pack of tricks we play on the dead.” (Voltaire).

“History is little more than the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.” (Edward Gibbon).

“History is as much an art as a science.” (Ernest Renan).

Men make their own history, but they do not know that they are making it.” (Karl Marx).

“There will always be a connection between the way in which men contemplate the past and the way in which they contemplate the present.” (Thomas Buckle).

“It is a reproach of historians that they have too often turned history into a mere record of the butchery of men by their fellow men.” (J. R. Green).

Such is the unity of history that anyone who endeavours to tell a piece of it must feel that his first sentence tears a seamless web (F. W. Maitland).

History is the sextant and compass of states, which, tossed by wind and current, would be lost in confusion if they could not fix their position.” (Alan Nevins).

“The historians are the guardians of tradition, the priests of the cult of nationality, the prophets of social reform, the exponents and upholders of national virtue and glory” (Philip Bagby).

“The study of history is a personal matter, in which the activity is generally more valuable than the result (V. H. Galbraith).

“A society sure of its values had needed history only to celebrate the glories of the past, but a society of changing values and consequent confusions also needed history as a utilitarian guide.” (Thomas Cochran).

“Man generally is entangled in insoluble problems; history is consequently a tragedy in which we are all involved, whose keynote is anxiety and frustration, not progress and fulfilment (Arthur Schlesinger Jr).

“Political and social history are in my view two aspects of the same process. Social life loses half its interest and political movements lose most of their meaning if they are considered separately (F. M. Powicke).

“The aim of the historian, like that of the artist, is to enlarge our picture of the world, to give us a new way of looking at things.” (James Joll).

“History free of all values cannot be written. Indeed, it is a concept almost impossible to understand, for men will scarcely take the trouble to inquire
laboriously into something which they set no value upon (W. H. B. Court)

“What better preparation for a history which seeks to bring societies to life and to understand that life than to have really lived, commanded men, suffered with them and shared their joys.” (Lucien Febvre)

“A mere collector of supposed facts is as useful as a collector of matchboxes.” (Lucien Febvre)

“Consciousness of the past alone can make us understand the present.” (Herbert Luethy).

“The justification of all historical study must ultimately be that it enhances our self-consciousness, enables us to see ourselves in perspective, and helps us towards that greater freedom which comes from self-knowledge.” (Keith Thomas).

“History is not a succession of events, it is the links between them.” (E. Evans-
Pritchard). '

“It is a mark of civilised man that he seeks to understand his traditions,
and to criticise them, not to swallow them whole.” (M. I. Finley).

“The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.” (William Hazlitt)

“The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present.” (G. K. Chesterton)

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

“Peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” Hegel

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” (Aldous Huxley)

Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. (African Proverb)

“When a man of true genius appears in the world, you may know him by the infallible sign, that all the dunces are in conspiracy against him.” Jonathan Swift

“The history of the world is the history of the privileged few. “ Henry Miller

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe” (H. G. Wells)

“More history is made by secret handshakes than by battles, bills and proclamations.” (John Barth).

“The historian must not try to know what is truth, if he values his honesty; for, if he cares for his truths, he is certain to falsify his facts.” (Henry Adams)

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

“At 50, everyone has the face he deserves” (George Orwell)

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” (George Orwell)

Pronounce us guilty a thousand times over: the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile. She will acquit us.” (Adolf Hitler, 1924)

Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me. (Fidel Castro, 1953)

“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” Voltaire

#2 Sumir Sharma

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 03:53 AM

“Disobedience in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and rebellion.” Oscar Wilde

“In history one is absolutely sickened, not by the original crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishment that the good have inflicted.” Oscar Wilde

"We get our ethics from our history and judge our history by our ethics." Ernst Troeltsch

“The task of the historian is to understand the peoples of the past better than they understand themselves.” Herbert Butterfield

“History has to be rewritten in every generation, because although the past does not change the present does; each generation asks new questions of the past, and finds new areas of sympathy as it re-lives different aspects of the experiences of its predecessors.” Christopher Hill

“There are few activities more cooperative than the writing of history. The author puts his name brashly on the title-page and the reviewers rightly attack him for his errors and misinterpretations; but none knows better than he how much his whole enterprise depends on the preceding labours of others.” Christopher Hill

“Everyone is a reactionary about subjects he understands.” Robert Conquest

“An unjust war doesn't matter very much until it happens. The fact that it happens, especially when so many people are against it, does not suddenly justify it. Every day of slaughter strengthens the case against it, and the urgency of the need to protest against it.” Paul Foot

“Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.” Duke of Wellington

“The man who sees both sides of a question is a man who sees absolutely nothing at all.” Oscar Wilde

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck by the difference between what things are and what they might have been.” William Hazlitt.

“History is but a pack of tricks we play on the dead.” (Voltaire).

“History is little more than the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind.” (Edward Gibbon).

“History is as much an art as a science.” (Ernest Renan).

Men make their own history, but they do not know that they are making it.” (Karl Marx).

“There will always be a connection between the way in which men contemplate the past and the way in which they contemplate the present.” (Thomas Buckle).

“It is a reproach of historians that they have too often turned history into a mere record of the butchery of men by their fellow men.” (J. R. Green).

Such is the unity of history that anyone who endeavours to tell a piece of it must feel that his first sentence tears a seamless web (F. W. Maitland).

History is the sextant and compass of states, which, tossed by wind and current, would be lost in confusion if they could not fix their position.” (Alan Nevins).

“The historians are the guardians of tradition, the priests of the cult of nationality, the prophets of social reform, the exponents and upholders of national virtue and glory” (Philip Bagby).

“The study of history is a personal matter, in which the activity is generally more valuable than the result (V. H. Galbraith).

“A society sure of its values had needed history only to celebrate the glories of the past, but a society of changing values and consequent confusions also needed history as a utilitarian guide.” (Thomas Cochran).

“Man generally is entangled in insoluble problems; history is consequently a tragedy in which we are all involved, whose keynote is anxiety and frustration, not progress and fulfilment (Arthur Schlesinger Jr).

“Political and social history are in my view two aspects of the same process. Social life loses half its interest and political movements lose most of their meaning if they are considered separately (F. M. Powicke).

“The aim of the historian, like that of the artist, is to enlarge our picture of the world, to give us a new way of looking at things.” (James Joll).

“History free of all values cannot be written. Indeed, it is a concept almost impossible to understand, for men will scarcely take the trouble to inquire
laboriously into something which they set no value upon (W. H. B. Court)

“What better preparation for a history which seeks to bring societies to life and to understand that life than to have really lived, commanded men, suffered with them and shared their joys.” (Lucien Febvre)

“A mere collector of supposed facts is as useful as a collector of matchboxes.” (Lucien Febvre)

“Consciousness of the past alone can make us understand the present.” (Herbert Luethy).

“The justification of all historical study must ultimately be that it enhances our self-consciousness, enables us to see ourselves in perspective, and helps us towards that greater freedom which comes from self-knowledge.” (Keith Thomas).

“History is not a succession of events, it is the links between them.” (E. Evans-
Pritchard). '

“It is a mark of civilised man that he seeks to understand his traditions,
and to criticise them, not to swallow them whole.” (M. I. Finley).

“The love of liberty is the love of others; the love of power is the love of ourselves.” (William Hazlitt)

“The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present.” (G. K. Chesterton)

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

“Peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” Hegel

“That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” (Aldous Huxley)

Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. (African Proverb)

“When a man of true genius appears in the world, you may know him by the infallible sign, that all the dunces are in conspiracy against him.” Jonathan Swift

“The history of the world is the history of the privileged few. “ Henry Miller

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe” (H. G. Wells)

“More history is made by secret handshakes than by battles, bills and proclamations.” (John Barth).

“The historian must not try to know what is truth, if he values his honesty; for, if he cares for his truths, he is certain to falsify his facts.” (Henry Adams)

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

“At 50, everyone has the face he deserves” (George Orwell)

“All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” (George Orwell)

Pronounce us guilty a thousand times over: the goddess of the eternal court of history will smile. She will acquit us.” (Adolf Hitler, 1924)

Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me. (Fidel Castro, 1953)

“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” Voltaire


On link here, John Steven Kreis has given a list of more quotations which substantiate the above list.



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