Can History Teach Us Peace?

Page, James S. (2000) Can History Teach Us Peace? Peace Review: a journal of social justice, 12(3), pp. 441-448.


The idea that we can learn from history is a recurring one and this essay examines dialectically the arguments for and against the proposition that history can teach us peace. Eight objections to the proposition that we can teach peace through history are discussed: 1) the problem that history implies a social inevitability, 2) the difficulty in ascribing moral or ethical responsibility in historical explanation, 3) the reliance on counterfactual history in attempting to teach peace through history, 4) the war-centred nature of history, 5) the violence-centred nature of history, 6) the depersonalized construction of war in history, 7) the past-centred nature of history, 8) the problem of despair. The conclusion to this essay is that the teaching of peace is possible, although one does need to be mindful of the limitations to such a project and to have a deliberately open view of the future.

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ID Code: 3568
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: history, teaching peace, teaching history, learning from history, violence, peace, war, historical inevitability, causation, alternatives to war, alternatives to structural violence, historical explanation, to understand all is to forgive all, counterfactual history, Schadenfreude, de, actualizing war, violence studies, World Slaughter One, World Slaughter Two, Shakespeare, anthropomorphic error, anthropomorphic effect, war memorials, paradox of pacifism, Munich analogy, radical constructivist, radical constructivism, mythogenic, despair, despairwork, utopian, openness, open
ISSN: 1040-2659
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2000 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: First published in Peace Review 12(3):pp. 441-448.
Deposited On: 20 Feb 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2010 12:38

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