As a teacher of history and the social science, I have followed the recent research and discussions on the role of individual memory in how history is retold and what variety of slants the various peoples seem to receive over time concerning historical happenings.
In short, history is very interactive over time, with the memory of viewer of it, and in relation to change in perspectives and evidence concerning humanity.
Generally, history can be defined as a narration of events over time, especially as concerns the human race. At the same time history is often asked to be more complete than that, so historians attempt to provide a consistent and systematic narrative of past events, particularly in reference to groups of people, e.g., families, tribes, corporate entities, nations, nation states, and even international organizations and movements. (Meanwhile, biographies and psycho-history center more on the individual and her relationships to others and world events around her.)
HISTORY AS A RIVER
On the other hand, history is also certainly best described in metaphor, like "the river" which one Greek philosopher used to describe it millennia ago.
In that Greek metaphor, "history is like a river because one can never step into the same river twice."
In his classic history on the black struggle in America, Vincent Harding entitled the work: THERE IS A RIVER. Harding transformed the idea as history being a river to the movement of a people through history being a river.
This phrase perplexed one aging doctor of political science theory at Texas A & M whom I knew--and who claimed to have never heard the phrase before. However, in that same seminar, one Jordanian (Jordan was once part of the Greek and Roman Empire) student chimed in that he was certain that the author of the phrase was Democritus, probably the most famous pre-Socratic scholars.
NOTE: Over the last decade, I have tried to ascertain whether Democritus, in fact, ever described history as a river and have found no evidence to confirm nor refute this. Nevertheless, this Greek metaphor of "history as a river" has been very important for historians. (I open to a researcher informing me of the roots of the "river" metaphor.)
This river-history metaphor essentially means first:
Organically, no measurement of a single river over time could show that the river's dimensions and measurements of its waters were 100% identical to the consistency and the dimensions of the river when it was measured previously.
In a way, Greek "river" metaphor's perspective on historical accuracy and truth in recording historical occurrences is fairly similar to relativism over time as related to us in quantum theory --as well as concepts of time noted at the turn of the last century by Albert Einstein. (This should come as no surprise to us if we consider that Democritus was one of the philosophers who created the concept of atomism, accepted now as the bases of building blocks in natural species and objects.)
Therefore, it was extremely surprising and at the same time annoying that in America in this decade, a life-long doctor of political theory did not understand these basic concepts of time and the immeasurability of various historical events over time. Personally, I imagine this demise in theoretical conceptualization in political science and in political theory is reflective of the increasingly detrimental effects of specialization of the Social Sciences since the 1960s.
This has led to many manipulations of modern education by vested interests of bean counters and those who use the social and political-economic sciences to have control of modern society.
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