March 09, 2015

The Future is Ours to Create

"History consists, for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetite." Edmund Burke

What is "History"?

Only Humans have History: we are the only species that has a written record of our past accomplishments and follies, and the only ones capable of planning and projecting into the future. Every other species just is—they are as Nature intended—whereas Humans appear to be a bit more malleable.

The story of this malleability is History. It is an account of all the various manifestations that this being called "Human" has taken, and all the conflict and drama that has occurred because of the incompatibility that this engenders.   

History, then, is what Humans create—our "Art"—which seems to prove that we are free. The fact that we are not just mere Nature—chemico-biological matter in motion—appears evident in the "progress" that we have made in overcoming it; by not merely accepting the given, but creatively adding to it. This is also exhibited by Politics, in that we refuse to accept the "law of Nature," red in tooth and claw, instead trying to achieve such abstract, yet deeply heart-felt notions as Justice, Equality and Fairness and attempting to create systems to bring them into being.

But the question of just how free—to what extent and for what purpose—remains the philosophic question par excellence. How much creative capabilities do we really have; and how far do we really want to go? Is History progressing toward some definitive "end" or is it "just one damn thing after another"?

These questions, about the meaning and purpose of History, have been the main driver behind all of modern Philosophy and Politics.

To make an attempt to start disentangling this History, I will begin to explore some of the responses to these questions in a segment I'm calling The History of History. Check back soon for more.

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