February 12, 2005

But what about the antiquarians?

Posted by Curt at 07:44 AM in Words of Wisdom | TrackBack

"Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them." This is good advice, especially for democracies, which tend (as even Plato and Thucydides noted) to have short-term attention spans. But we shouldn't forget an equally important lesson, articulated most forcefully by Nietzsche: The health of a person and a people also depends vitally on the capacity to forget. Forgetting is necessary to free ourselves from imperfectly understood "lessons of history," so that we can see the challenges ahead clearly, without preconceptions or prejudice. Forgetting is also the better part of forgiving, and there are whole domains of political controversy -- indeed, whole regions of the world -- where a little less history could be of service in this respect.
--Eliot Noyes, Getting Past the Past


"Those who do learn from mistakes are just as doomed to repeat them, in collective politics." - JTK

Posted by: John T. Kennedy at February 12, 2005 11:11 AM