Sunday, January 16, 2011

Those who remember the past are condemned never to repeat it

"Rulers, statesmen, nations, are wont to be emphatically commended to the teaching which experience offers in history.  But what experience and history teach is thisthat peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.  Each period is involved in such peculiar circumstances, exhibits a condition of things so strictly idiosyncratic, that its conduct must be regulated by considerations connected with itself, and itself alone.  Amid the pressures of great events, a general principle gives no help.  It is useless to revert to similar circumstances in the past.  The pallid shades of memory struggle in vain with the life and freedom of the present."

     Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, The philosophy of history, trans. J. Sibree, Introduction ii (Great Books of the Western World, 2nd ed. (1990), vol. 43, p. 161).

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