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Using History

Using history to assess Western social systems and culture

Most of my previous publications on historical writing have described its various structures – descriptions, explanations, interpretations and the like – and have identified the conditions that justify faith in their credibility. Now I turn my attention to the social value of historical knowledge. There is almost no academic interest in this topic, unfortunately.

There are several different contexts in which historical knowledge is important: for instance in studying the events that contributed to a nation’s identity, and in deciding land rights of indigenous people. But its greatest value, I suggest, is in helping us to assess the value of the commercial, educational, political and economic organisations and institutions of our society. Also, the history of ideas helps us to understand important elements of our culture.

How can knowledge of the past contribute to an understanding of the present? Read and find out!