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Thread: What really determines human history?

  1. #1 What really determines human history? 
    ox
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    Such a simple question obviously requires far too complex an answer. It started with early man being pushed around by climate change and the need to find food and shelter. It proceeded when man discovered agriculture and manufacturing and was able to do away with a nomadic lifestyle which allowed for larger families. The basic fight for survival became a political and economic war between nations. And so on...as the historians would lead us to believe.
    Then there are more simple matters such as cause and effect. My train is delayed so I miss my connection and am late for the conference meaning that a critical vote goes the wrong way.
    Then there are the biologists who point out that if Hitler's father hadn't met Hitler's mother then the Second World War would have been averted.
    Then there are the believers in luck who point out that Hitler wouldn't have been revered had his father not changed the family name from Schickelgruber to Hitler. Nobody would have chanted 'Heil Schickelgruber!'
    Then there are the believers in destiny. Had Margeret Thatcher not been PM then the Falklands would now be Argentinian.
    Or is history just finding the best alternative, and can this only be done by trial and error?


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  3. #2  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Or is history just finding the best alternative, and can this only be done by trial and error?
    What?
    Alternatives for what?
    History is whatever happened.
    You appear to be confusing "history" with, er, I have no idea.
    History is defined as -

    • the study of past events, particularly in human affairs
    • the past considered as a whole

    In other words history is "whatever happened or is happening".
    I think what you you're looking at is what actual historians call counterfactuals.
    What could have happened?

    Or maybe you're seeking some causal link that explains every single event/ decsion/ happenstance from the very beginning.

    Until you better explain and define your question/ premise I'd say it's unanswerable.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Or is history just finding the best alternative, and can this only be done by trial and error?
    History must deal with facts that are known that can be proven to happen not something that is fabricated from what if and maybe.

    The problem is that history many times is not always what it actually was but what some people want to to think happened the way they want you to see it with false representation of what actually happened enlisting instead their own points of view with no way to prove them to be factual but only heresy.
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  5. #4  
    ox
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    History is defined as - the study of past events, particularly in human affairs
    the past considered as a whole
    In other words history is "whatever happened or is happening".
    I think what you you're looking at is what actual historians call counterfactuals.
    What could have happened?
    That is a crude definition of history. What for instance is the time frame of history? One second ago? One year? One century?
    Did the Peloponnesian War ever took place in the way it was described? We only have stories from one man who never witnessed it.
    I am not looking at what-if scenarios but clearly certain events have a truly lasting influence on world affairs. Consider that in 1914 Archduke Fredinand's car took a wrong turning in Sarajevo. By chance a man called Gavrilo Princip was standing there with a gun and from that moment the whole of 20th century history was changed. If that had not happened then war could have been delayed or prevented.
    When faced with more than one alternative what do you do? The most likely answer is that you choose the most advantageous. Does this reflect on the human species? In 2 million years of evolution we have killed at least one billion of our own kind. The furthest we've ever been is 240,000 miles from earth and the furthest we are now is 200 miles above on the space station. So our history is not a proud one.
    Our brains can only model the outside world based on sensory input and so we have a distorted sense of reality.
    Rather than just taking a contrary view how would you suggest human history is determined?
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    The problem is that history many times is not always what it actually was but what some people want to to think happened the way they want you to see it with false representation of what actually happened enlisting instead their own points of view with no way to prove them to be factual but only heresy.
    Not sure if you mean heresy or hearsay. If heresy then this illustrates religious history and how it has largely been driven by heresy, or a small disagreement about nothing much in particular and without any factual basis has disproportionally changed the course of history. Even in England they were killing each other in the name of Christian belief only 300-400 years ago and they would probably still be doing it had not the scientific enlightenment taken hold.
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    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    That is a crude definition of history.
    Really?
    Provide a "better" one.

    What for instance is the time frame of history? One second ago? One year? One century?
    What?
    The "time frame" for history is all of history.
    History of the universe = ~15 billion years.
    History of humans = somewhat less.
    History of civilisation = even less than that.

    [quoteDid the Peloponnesian War ever took place in the way it was described? We only have stories from one man who never witnessed it./quote]
    So what you're actually talking about is the recording and reporting of history.

    I am not looking at what-if scenarios but clearly certain events have a truly lasting influence on world affairs. Consider that in 1914 Archduke Fredinand's car took a wrong turning in Sarajevo. By chance a man called Gavrilo Princip was standing there with a gun and from that moment the whole of 20th century history was changed. If that had not happened then war could have been delayed or prevented.
    In other words not only, despite your claim, is that not a What If it's also ignoring certain facts.
    WWI was not caused by Ferdinand's death, (that simply triggered it - there were other possible trigers), but had deeper underlying "reasons".

    When faced with more than one alternative what do you do? The most likely answer is that you choose the most advantageous.
    No. The one that is chosen is the one that appears to be optimal at the time.

    Does this reflect on the human species? In 2 million years of evolution we have killed at least one billion of our own kind. The furthest we've ever been is 240,000 miles from earth and the furthest we are now is 200 miles above on the space station. So our history is not a proud one.
    Our brains can only model the outside world based on sensory input and so we have a distorted sense of reality.
    What?

    Rather than just taking a contrary view how would you suggest human history is determined?
    History is determined by what actually happened.
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  8. #7  
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    Let me modify the question then :
    Why have we made such a bleep-up of our history? Why in 2 million years of human evolution do we still produce states like North Korea? We could be the only life left in the universe. The rest have long gone into a more stable universe. This is a likely answer to the Fermi Paradox. They knew we were here but they treated us like we treat primitive tribes - harmless, going nowhere, incapable of great understanding, and no threat.
    Religion proves that humans are irrational. Maybe it is the fate of a carbon based lifeform to act in that way and have a distorted sense of reality.
    You have got the age of the universe wrong - it is 13.8 billion years.
    You are vague as to where history begins and you don't understand where it is now.
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  9. #8  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    What really determines human history?
    Human nature.

    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Why have we made such a bleep-up of our history?
    "Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them" (*) And there is very little evidence that we are capable of learning.


    (*) Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  10. #9  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Let me modify the question then :
    Why have we made such a bleep-up of our history?
    Ah, got you.
    I still think you're completely misusing the term "history".

    Why in 2 million years of human evolution do we still produce states like North Korea?
    I think the reply to that is"why shouldn't we?".
    As far as I'm aware there is no requirement that we survive, let alone "do things properly".

    The rest have long gone into a more stable universe.
    Huh?

    You have got the age of the universe wrong - it is 13.8 billion years.
    You DO know what ~ means, don't you?

    You are vague as to where history begins
    Er no.

    and you don't understand where it is now.
    What?
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  11. #10  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    "Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them"
    Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás
    "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”
    Hegel.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  12. #11  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    "Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them"
    Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás
    "The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”
    Hegel.
    Well, he certainly had the snappier name.
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  13. #12  
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    I'm not certain this is relevant but on the question of what factors are important, in determining human history, I remember the quote by the British economist, John Maynard Keynes, who said "it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil."
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    Normally what is considered to determine the beginning of human history are variables and clues discovered from archaeology If we find settlements where it looks like the ancient residence knew how to make crude pottery and mats and were actually 'settling' and not roaming around then we consider this a beginning. But at the same time we know that people have been living in caves far before that, and 'people' existed far before that. Its funny really that most argue that anything before 4000 bce is PRE-HISTORY. But I argue it's still history. Human History runs as far back as to the day the human gene split or was created; even if this means we were resembling creatures more like tadpoles, our dna was still human. Now, we can argue the beginning of Recorded Human History, which is much shorter still. And we can find evidence as to why our timeline and understanding of our own history is so butchered. Many cultures found it acceptable to erase the king who had ruled before. In Egypt Pharaohs would chisel the name of their father from monuments to proclaim their own greatness. Mayan Kings would build right on top of monuments created before them. And when we argue about dates in the ancient world it is even more butchered. The Egyptians lived in 10 day weeks while their neighbors believed in 5 or 7 day weeks. Plus, Egyptians had two calendars, lunar and social. Both contradicted each other. January and February were added much later to the calendar still. And of course we cannot forget that the Victor Writes History.
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  15. #14  
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    What really determines human history?
    simple answer
    a nail


    .....
    then blind luck
    and
    timing
    and the competence or idiocy of the generals and army(see Charles edward stuart's colloden, and napolean's moscow campaign)

    ...............
    the latter part of your query
    would be guts and determination
    likely a fear response-(if you give 'em an inch)

    .........
    disease
    ....
    climate
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  16. #15  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Why in 2 million years of human evolution do we still produce states like North Korea?
    Because "we" didn't make North Korea the way it is, the people who live there allowed it to happen. Only when a people rise up against tyrants and oppressors will their own true selves and values be known. Allowing someone to oppress you only shows that they the people, who far out number the military, can't stand up and fight their way out of their own calamity but allow oppression to continue and this history to continue.

    We could be the only life left in the universe
    And so? What IF we are? Does that mean we cannot write down the facts instead of "adjusting" those facts to suit whoever gains control over a people?
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  17. #16  
    ox
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    "Those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them" (*) And there is very little evidence that we are capable of learning.
    Nearer to the mark, but why do we fail to learn the lessons of history? This needs further elaboration. We appear to live in deep repression of the past and are in denial of the fact that humans are quite a nasty evolved species of ape. Only chimps before us were the only ones that went to war. We have an idea of the future but are extremely bad at prediction, relying on such fiction as what is in the stars.
    In the last 100 years we have killed something like 100 million of our species in war and conflict, and yet we live today as though little of this had ever happened. There is even a reluctance of combatants to relive their experiences.
    The human infestation of our planet has also killed many more species than our own, until now we see the prospect of extinction ourselves.
    Everything is history and it is still just one goddam thing after another. So we evolve a strange form of pride that we call religion. Whatever side we are on we believe that god is with us. So god is on the side of America and he is also on the side of Al Qaeda.
    This belief in an alien force suggests a sort of collective neurosis rather than a simple delusion.
    A further point is that we do not really understand how wars start. Gavrilo Princip did not start WW1 as I'm well aware, but explanations offered by historians appear less than satisfactory. One historian suggests it was as a result of the expiry of empires. Another that it was down to the technology of the day : railway timetables and tinned food. Add all explanations together and we are still short of the whole truth. Where was the desire to live peacefully and not go to war?
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  18. #17  
    Forum Freshman Josey's Avatar
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    What we often understand as history is understood best by understanding the people who tell it. It often reflects the cultural bias from the people who tell it.

    "History is written by the victors."- Winston Churchill
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    Actually history is considered so that present actions stand justified. Unravelling the myths of yesteryears is next to impossible. On top of that truth and history are two different things. We see that all people like to present a pretty face to the posterity. History gives us an idea of the social norms of that period. We should be worried though when we try to seek inspiration from history.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parag29081973 View Post
    Actually history is considered so that present actions stand justified.
    This is rather close to a comment I read in the book "The problem of knowledge" by the philosopher A.J.Ayer. Ayer maintained that stating a historical "fact" amounted to giving what he called a "successful performance". In other words, the statement made is found to be consistent with everything that we think we know now. But that is quite a long way from asserting that the "fact" actually happened when it was thought to have done.
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    Well, WW2 would probably already have happened. The situation was perfect: Germans hated their democratic government of the Wiemar Republic; Germans were humiliated at the over-demanding terms of the Treaty of Versailles; Italians were angered at their small gain of land from the Treaty of Versailles; The Japanese had a militaristic attitude and wished for more land and control of the Pacific; The USA did not want to intervene; and much more...

    The situation was ripe for world war, all it needed was Hitler to light the match. I am sure someone else would have if he had not...

    "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
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    In my own opinion there is no greater mathematical Principle than that which is x - x = 0. This shows that matter can be created from nothing as long as the total product of the matter's mass & energy equal exactly zero.
    The only question is, "Where did all that antimatter go?"

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    The people living at the time. Their contributions. The diversities of the period. The final outcomes.

    With documentation,

    History
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