It is no secret that the study of history is in fact the study of people and their stories. It is precisely for this reason why to promote its study, whether independent or through institutions is of great importance to the further evolution of humanism, which in turn would play a substantial role in the evolution in the study of morality and ethics.The question, of course, is why?
When one reads the stories of men and women, whether from famous long gone Prime Ministers to the most basic and common people, it creates a durable connection with not only the past, but also the burdensome task of understanding it. This personal reciprocity that can develop with the subjects in one’s study of history plays a vital role to the way historiography forms, functions. In other words, the way we choose to be biased about some things, ignore others, all in the greater scope of history.
Livy, for instance, despite his fame for the accounts of Roman history that has enriched both the Classics and all areas of history, is an individual whose account and analysis if partially, if not fully biased. Yet his own thoughts and feeling over the study of Romans, or people to be more specific, played an important role in our understanding of the Roman world, and if not for him we would be asking even more questions provided to us by the gaps left in archaeology.
The ultimate point is therefore that the study of history, regardless of form or what period does promote to an extent the ideals of humanism. Whether it is from the sheer connection one forms with the people he/she studies, or the grander understanding of the workings of society.
Published in The Art of Polemics, Issue 2, on Sept 9th, 2014.