Brainwashed: the one-sided view of history


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Article reads: Does contingency do to the moral study of history what natural selection did 140 years ago to the seemingly moral organization of the natural world? Perhaps. But instead of throwing up our hands and yielding to the mysterious hands of fate and randomness, we should spend more time marveling at the past for its own sake. That is, we should stop reading history backwards to see how things led inexorably to today and start looking at the uncertain world of past societies and explore how they made sense of it all. In that reading, the Civil War becomes so fascinating not because it was part of some grand narrative of national unification or the emancipation of slavery, for example, but because there was just so much in the balance on each day. Everybody sensed it. And nobody knew how it would end up.

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