Dr Jenny Wong

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“History is Bunk” Discuss.
Henry Ford was an American industrialist, engineer and founder of the ‘Ford’ motor car company. Ford was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune, on May 25th 1916, and was quoted saying; “History is more or less bunk.  It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker's dam is the history we made today.” While this viewpoint has its merits, it does not fully recognise the importance of history in the present society. George Santayana offers a different viewpoint in his conviction “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”, arguing that history has significant implications in the present world. Ford’s statement has its merits, as acting without regard for past events can indeed aid future developments, particularly working on innovative and new designs or projects. History can limit new discoveries, as people have pre-conceived expectations and limits, drawn from past failures and experiences. However, if an individual were to disregard the past, and to forget the ‘limits’ of what was considered possible, new discoveries can be forged. For example, the development of moving picture, completed by the Lumiere brothers in France, was a revolutionary idea, not thought possible before the time. By ignoring previous limits and expectations set by history, the Lumiere brothers were able to make a significant technological breakthrough, validating Ford’s belief that history is ‘bunk’. On the other hand, history can be found to be at the heart of all new discoveries, proving that it is not at all ‘bunk’, but in fact vital in the present society. The Lumiere brothers’ discovery did not come about as a random act. It took months, experimenting and recording all of their observations. The brothers at these times were recording history, and these historical documents would prove crucial later, as they worked from them to improve their designs and ideas. Without their...
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