There are a lot of slogans in circulation about why history matters:
- “to understand the present, we need to know where we came from
- history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes!
- ‘those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’
- it broadens your horizon, allows you to ‘zoom out’, ‘see the bigger picture’ and draw parallels to what came before.” (Syll)
For the relation between scientific theory and history, it is important to understand that science is NOT concerned with individual historical events except as a singular manifestation of a general law. A concrete historical event can either corroborate or refute a law. Science is concerned with the underlying invariances (Nozick) a.k.a. general laws.
For example, a History of Fire tells one which cities burned down at which point on the timeline and what the casualties were, and perhaps who set the fire. From these events we can derive some truisms about fire but no matter how many fires the historian studies, he will never arrive at the Theory of Fire or the Laws of Thermodynamics. Theory transcends a collection of historical facts.
Worse, the well-known problem with History is that it is for the greater part literary fiction. History deals in most cases not with incontrovertible facts but is storytelling, speculation, interpretation, second-guessing, fact selection/omission, outright fake, and propaganda, in other words, “What’s history, but a fable agreed upon?” (Napoleon)
Economists, for example, do not understand to this day the Great Depression because there is no such thing as the true economic theory: Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism, MMT ― are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, and materially/ formally inconsistent. The fake scientist Milton Friedman simply put the historical blame for the Great Depression on the Federal Reserve.
The methodological priorities are: in order to understand the decline of ancient Rome or the Great Depression one needs scientific theories, among others, the true economic theory because no way leads from ill-documented and ill-understood historical events to the true theory about how the economy works.
History matters but theory matters much, much more. For details see:
► A historical misunderstanding
► The universal Profit Law and the multitude of unique historical circumstances
► History and future of the monetary economy
► Historians don’t get it
► When substandard thinkers dabble in science it is called economics
► History delivers the questions but not the answers
► The Law of Economists’ Increasing Stupidity
► History and the identity problem of economics
► Causality in economics
► History and methodology: no trouble of any sort
► Setting the history of economic non-thought right
► No future for Socialism and Capitalism
► The Synthesis of Economic Law, Evolution, and History