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The Definition and Importance of History

Updated on March 27, 2012
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Christopher F. Bueno is currently the Dean of the College of Education, University of Northern Philippines, Vigan City.


Generally, the definition of history is the study of past events, persons and places. The political, economic, cultural and religious activities that significantly occurred in the past have been the basis in writing history. The term history has its true sense by the Greek word “ Historia” which I believe we can take it as the other definition, it is an inquiry in the interpretation of character and significance of event. The academic inquiry may take in many specialized forms in the social sciences to gather historical facts such as paleontology , archaeology, sociology, anthropology, and etc. These are the historical basis to transform real human facts about the past activities.

The constant academic inquiry in the interpretation of historical events has been usually criticized as the propensity to repeat recorded events . The subjective interpretation of the historical analysis is at stake as to the significance of that recorded events. This led to the famous remarked of Philip Guedalla (1889-1944) that “History repeats itself. Historians repeat each other”. So “history” does not repeat itself, the academic inquiries of the recorded events of the historians resulted to repetition of their historical analysis. In the academic subject “history”, it has the impression as the most boring subject in high school to college as the students memorize the events, places, persons and so on. Most of the students never appreciated the academic value of this subject.

Importance of History

1. History ensures the development of the social and cultural identity of the society.

2. History provides us the rich source of personal and social experiences to critically analyze the societal lesson in life.

3. The previous political, social, economic and religious dimensions give us the ideas as to the possible cause-and-effect relationships to the different variables of life.

4. The critical review and analysis provides better opportunity to liberate his ideas and understand the distorted historical facts to educe the societal biases and prejudices.

5. The “rise and fall syndrome, “the boom - bust cycle”, and “birth to death life cycle”, provide as possible mechanisms to understand the next consequential action in societal life.

Let us give practical reasons and importance of history:

The cultural and social history provides the ethnographic historical analysis on the development of ethnic race in a particular region. The identification of the major race such has Chinese, Americans, European, African and Asia determine the general cultural and social characteristics including the development of society.

It is quite true that “history repeats itself” take the case of the “rise and fall syndrome” in the study of political authority and power. It has an impressive cycle of historical repetition.

That a political ruler repeated cycle of history : the rise of political power and authority as the sovereign people look at them as hero the protector of the masses and human freedom and dignity; then the political stability and enjoyment of insatiable power based on greed and vanity; after which the addiction of power and influence from the long dynastic control that it’s no longer impossible to step down ; the political struggle of power and influence by use of force, bribery, suppression and intimidation that may later on result to revolution or change of political administration; as the sovereign people rises in the ashes of suppression and exploitation and again support a new symbolic hero to rise again. The history keeps on repeating again.

The appreciation of history is not simply the memorization of past events, places, persons and etc. Actually of the historical artifacts of past has been the product of exploitation, suppression, harassment, torture, and other forms of human deprivation on the idea of freedom, equality and liberty. They should simply be studied in the historical phenomenology by the social life experiences to learn important lessons about the human society through the repeated events give us the thorough perspectives as to the historical lessons .

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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 weeks ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      The best history professor I had in college considered ideas more important than dates.

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      anisha 6 weeks ago

      thanks it helps me for my history practical

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      Marian 18 months ago

      Hi sir Cris! I am a UNP graduate! I salute you sir... You were one of my panel in my dissertation... Nice articles po! :))

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      marjan khan 5 years ago

      hi i am a student of history univ of peshawar i lik the subject history vry much although its vry dificult but i lik it thank you

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      You are right that many of us are bored by history because of the way it has been taught. Whereas facts can be useful, they are not the end all. One has to also wade through the various viewpoint, demogoging, interpretations of history. I am of the viewpoint that history has to be seen in the context of the times and cultures in which events occur.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hi Savior - I am a professor of European history and I appreciate thearticle you have written. Good material. In the future would you cond=sider breaking your longer paragraphs into 2 or 3 short ones, maybe provide more whitespace? Some of us in the over 50 age group have a real hard time reading blocks of text. Thanks so much. Looking forward to reading more of your work.