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A Sense of History: Some Components
Transcript of A Sense of History: Some Components
All students who graduate from a liberal arts college should take with them an indelible awareness of the following:
1. Some things happened before other things.
2. Some things only happened in certain places.
3. Meanings and definitions of words change.
4. Where there is no record there is no history.
5. Texts that powerful educated people have written are not the only kind of record, however.
6. History is almost always complex:
Events have multiple causes.
Societies involve a mix of good and bad.
Changes depend on continuity.
7. God may indeed intervene in human history, but this is hard to document and historians require footnotes.
All "A" students who graduate from a liberal arts college and all history majors should show that they have mastered points 1-10 by handling historical evidence with a care that reflects the following:
11. Nothing is more important for historians than to chart cause and effect -- even though nothing is harder to prove.
12. Intriguing coincidences sometimes point to relationships of cause and effect, but never are enough to prove cause and effect.
13. Human history sometimes seems to involve themes that are common to many cultures and continuous through many ages -- but historians do not have the right to assert them until they have paid long and close attention to particular differences of time and space.
All students who expect to make the most of their liberal arts education should also be able to explain statements such as the following:
8. To attempt to live without a memory is to attempt to lose one's humanity.
9. Our memories fail us, however, and so we must continually work to recover and test our collective memory.
10. Historical study has at least as much to do with interpreting the past as with gathering "the facts."
Therefore, conflicting explanations of historical events and developments are almost always possible.