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#1
Chopin

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History repeats itself. This is testimony to the stupidity of man.


History doesn't repeat itself. It rhymes.


From a purely intellectual and non-cynical standpoint, which quotation would you agree with more?
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#2
Troy

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Mark Twain's comment.
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#3
Abydos

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Neither....

The first from Edith Hamilton is a contradiction in itself, as history can't repeat itself. You can have similar situations, yes, but not a repetition.

The second from Mark Twain, demands that there is a structure to it, else something can't rhyme. There is no structure per see to history. If there was, fortune-telling would not be something most people laugh at.
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#4
mpascal

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Twain
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#5
tyler kick you fase

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Edith Hamilton

I think Stalin will come back someday... :)
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#6
sarahw

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I always thought that the people who say "History repeats itself" are just giving a canned response that sounds good. They most likely don't understand what they are talking about, or want to create a likeness between two events to prove their point.
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#7
PedroDaGR8

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I do believe History repeats itself, as humans on the macroscale are a predictable species. Just like in science, its when you get to the individual level that you run into problems. For example, in radioactive decay, you can say 1000 atoms a second are going to decay and release radiation. Now if you wanted to predict WHICH atom would do this, it is impossible. Similarly, in history, you see similar occurences happen, but it is impossible to predict WHERE and WHEN it is going to happen.


"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage."

This was not written about the any current democracies but was written by Alexander Tyler to describe the fall of the Athenian Republic.

You can see this same process repeat itself over and over again through out history.
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#8
S.O.A.D.A.

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Answering this is like giving a brief summery of your historio-political worldview.

Let's take the first quote - history does repeat itself, but not in the sense that the same things happen over and over again. The principles that govern human behavior are always the same, so similar personality types will keep appearing, repeating their predecessors' mistakes, and eventually occupying the same social niches. Society in itself keeps following the same principles, but we evolve. There are the smaller cycles of the rise and fall of societies, and they follow certain patterns, being repeated on larger scales as society and technology evolve. You change the scale, and though applying the same formula each time, new phenomena (which are variations on the old ones) will occur. Then there is the bigger cycle which, I regret to say, we haven't yet completed in all 10,000 years of civilization building, of 4M years of the existence of the species, if you'd rather look at it this way. As for 'testimony to the stupidity of man', heh, I've heard that so many times, uttered by frustrated and misguided idealists. I disagree. Yes, the majority of mankind is intellectually challenged, that's true. But could Mr. Hamilton do anything about the constant repetition, other that bickering and pointing an accusing finger at, well, the rest of the world (kinda childish, if you ask me). No. So I guess the first quoted statement was made by a stupid person.

History doesn't repeat itself. It rhymes.


That's cute. Not sure it means much. Rhymes - that is, it has structure and beauty? Structure - yes, of course, just like physics has structure, cause and effect, et cetera; beauty.... yes, sure, the world is beautiful. Especially if you're not living in a Brazilian favella, under a totalitarian regime or anywhere else where life hurts.

I really really really disagree with Alexander Tyler. But to address all his points.... it's much easier to make an irresponsible remark such as his than to seriously discuss each of his statements. Rome evolved from democratic barbarism to an oligarchy to a centralized oligarchy, then semi-anarchy, then centralized bureaucratic... whatever (I really should read a book about Diocletian, or something), then it died. China has existed for over 2000 years, and I mean just the Chinese empire. etc., etc.....

As for nuclear theory - I don't think it can be applied to humans, unless you are looking at society from a big distance, not really seeing any individual at all, just like researchers of nuclear physics do with atoms. But we actually can see individuals, and we can predict their behavior, sometimes even with extreme ease. Many great artists of government could asses people accurately and quickly - a very important trait (possessed by Caesar and by Genghis Khan).

D.
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#9
Troy

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Answering this is like giving a brief summery of your historio-political worldview.

Not really... "Why" wasn't part of his question! :) (Although your points are welcome)
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#10
hfcg

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I do not agree with ether statement.
The fallacy of man causes the same mistakes, but with different issues and different societies.
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#11
S.O.A.D.A.

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But human nature, just like the underlying animal nature, is consistent, and is well founded in the laws of physics, although we might not understand them all right now. So you will see patterns, you can logically analyze it. Which is very tricky for psychological issues common to almost all societies.

But I agree that the statements quoted in this thread are all to general (the last being also a little on the vague side).
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#12
snowchick7669

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Maybe they should have a quote saying

"History is history, everything else is either present or future"

And keep it simple? :)

Bit tongue in cheek really
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