PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-World History
1.1 History : Meaning and Importance
The word ’history’ is derived from the Greek
noun ’historia’ meaning ’inquiry or research.’ Aristotle
regarded it as a "systematic account of a set of natural phenomena,
whether or not chronological ordering was a factor in the account."
The term "history" has now come to be applied to accounts
of events that are narrated in a chronological order, and deal with
the past of mankind.
Learning by inquiry about the past of mankind was
later developed into a discipline by the Greek historians Thucydides
and Heredeotus (who is popularly known as ’Father of History’).
E. H. Carn defined history as an "unending dialogue
between the present and the past." Jawaharlal Nehru
observed that man’s growth from barbarism to civilization is supposed
to be the theme of history." Will Durant called history
"a narrative of what civilized men have thought or done in
the past time."
World history is primarily concerned with the evolution
of mankind. It traces the whole story of man as well as of his progress
in civilization a culture from the dim past up to the present day.
It indicates his failures and his successes, describes his laws
and his wars, and reveals his religions and his arts. It gives an
account of the significant developments that took place in the past
with reference to the countries and the men and women who played
a noteworthy part. Thomas Carlyle, a famous historian of
the French revolution regards world history as the "biography
of great men."
The importance of history is in its capacity to
help one to draw conclusions from the past events. It may be said
that history is to the human race, what memory is to each man. It
sheds the light of the past upon the present, thus helping one to
understand oneself, by making one acquainted with other peoples.
Also, as one studies the rise and fall of empires and civilizations,
the lessons of the past help one to avoid the pitfalls of the present.
History makes one’s life richer by giving meaning
to the books one reads, the cities one visits or the music one hears.
It also broadens one’s outlook by presenting to one an admixture
of races, a mingling of cultures and a spectacular drama of the
making of the modern world out of diverse forces.
Another importance of history is that it enables
one to grasp one’s relationship with one’s past. For example if
one wonders why the U.S. flag has 48 stars or why Great Britain
follows monarchy, one has to turn to history for an answer.
History is of immense value to social scientists
engaged in research. Thus the political scientist doing research
on the parliamentary form of government, has to draw his materials
from the treasure trove of history.
It preserves the traditional and cultural values
of a nation, and serves as a beacon light, guiding society in confronting
various crises. History is indeed, as Allen Nerins puts it, "a bridge
connecting the past with the present and pointing the road to the