The Pursuit of History – Dani Brown

In John Tosh’s, The Pursuit of History, Aims, methods and new directions in the study of modern history, the chapter on historical awareness draws on the importance of people’s experiences, memory, and awareness, with the purpose of uncovering the past to explain it and understand it, in the most accurate historical setting. As humans, we hold an obligation to the past, to understand the relationship between events over time, which endows more significance; this process is also known as historical process. Through this process there also holds a social memory, which reflects the rationale of popular knowledge about the past. Tradition, nostalgia, and progress provide basic constituents of social memory. Academic historians may distance themselves from the distortions of social memory, but use it to further their understanding of the past.


Further on in reading John Tosh’s, the Pursuit of History, the chapter; The Uses of History go into more detail about how history become more of a study. Before the history became used at a study, people believed that nothing could be learned from it and that it offers no guidance. The second rejection of history was that people held a commitment to modernity. Why bother with the past when you could just move forward to the future. But, some people believe that our destiny is disclosed in the trajectory of human history, which reveals the world as it really is, and the future course of events, also known as metahistory. More of an understanding of the course of human development and everything that goes with it. With this understanding also comes denial, history in peoples eyes was somewhat of an accident. Events that had happened in the past that were understood as wrong by people were defined as something to forget and push aside. Why bother with the past when there future is ahead? Marxism, is what sparked the attention of most people. What could people learn from the past to enhance their future? Historical difference also plays a role in what is socially relevant. There are millions of things to study in this world and there is a history about all of it. From the study of art, to economics and architecture, all of this is studied through understanding the context. Through context we learn that history does not repeat itself, and with any historical process it is easier for people to identify how to explain our past. History provides people with an education and understanding of ourselves in time. It teaches us how we got to the place we are today, and without our past the future would not have any path.

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