GRE Issue Essay 50
The chief benefit of the study of history is to break down the illusion that people in one period of time are significantly different from people who lived at any other time in history.
This statement is difficult to discuss. The significance of the study of history cannot be discussed in few words. It would be naive to say that the chief benefit of the study of history is to break down the illusion that people in one period of time are significantly different from people who lived at any other time in history. However, during the process of studying history, people do realize that they actually share much in common with their ancestors, in spite of various superficial differences.
During the study of history, people find that the life styles of people are variable from one period to the other. However, some basic human nature always remains the same. In the earlier times, people mainly depended on pigeons and then letters to correspond with others, while in modern times with the advanced technology, Internet, telephone, television, automobile are the main methods for us to communicate with others. They used to travel from one place to other on horses and camels. It is but natural that as the technology changes, there come changes in the lifestyles of people.
However, no matter in which period one lives, some values and merits always remain the same and get appreciated by people of that period. No matter how many changes our society has experienced, some characteristics such as bravery, self-discipline, righteousness, fidelity to friends, family and nations, spirit of never giving up, altruism are still praised by people. Also, people’s pursuit for truth and beauty remains the same. The spirit behind gaining the knowledge and searching for new things also remains the same. The main purpose to do research and the methods used might be different but they are all aimed to come closer to truth. For example, the doctrines of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are different and incompatible to each other but the spirit of pursuing the truth has passed down from one to another.
Similarly, people use different art forms to express their feelings. The form of art might be different in different periods. However, the essence behind all the art forms is the same, which is longing for beauty. More or less, modern theories, technologies, or conceptions cannot avoid being influenced by their predecessors, and, consequently, they inherit merits and demerits of the past and establish themselves finally.
The study of history benefits human beings in many ways like it can help us avoid the same mistakes as our predecessors did. Some mistakes of our ancestors were disastrous for humanity and societies. In order to ensure the smooth movement of our society it is must to avoid those mistakes. For instance, the Second World War was the worst thing that happened to our society and it is necessary to ensure that this kind of mistake never happens again.
Hence, from the perspective of life styles of different people are different from each other. However, there are many other aspects in which people in any period of time are quite the same. Therefore, the chief benefit of studying history is not to break any illusion but to learn from the past and to avoid the mistakes done by people in the past.