History and Legend

  • Marius S. OstrowskiEmail author


Leibniz formulated the proposition, which has remained unrefuted, that no two constituent parts of the organic world are completely the same as each other. That applies already to the tiniest living creatures, and thus so much more to organisms as immensely complex as human beings. And just as no two individuals of the human species are fully alike, so all the more it cannot happen that two peoples are in all respects the same, and that their life plays out in consistent agreement about everything. Even with the development of peoples that are similar in form, there is a whole host of differences between them as regards personalities and facts, which make a completely similar course of events extremely improbable. Can one conclude from that, as some think ingenious today, that history is there for nothing to be learned from it? That would amount to the wise insight that, faced with differences between individuals in eye and hair colour, muscular strength and body length, medical science is impossible. Like the life of individuals, the life of peoples also plays out according to the same laws of development, so that we can recognise very well from the examples of the past what kinds of effects certain causes will probably have here as well.

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.All Souls CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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