Nietzsche's Three Histories

Essay by machoman64College, UndergraduateA, March 2003

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According to Nietzsche there are three types of history. It is important to understand these distinct types of history so that one may use history and ones memory of the past to its fullest advantage. We must be putting history to the task of affirming our present lives and using it to effectively build our future. This is one key attribute that separates us from animals. They are happy because they cannot remember their mistakes and those of their company. We, as humans, are not happy because we cannot forget. So, when Nietzsche explains these three types of history he does not fully address the shortcomings of each.

The first type of history is Monumental history. This type of history is for those who are active and vivacious in life. It is for those who struggle and fight for a better life and desperately strive for happiness. This type of history seeks those who have achieved such status to emulate.

It seeks role models and people who can teach such success. Monumental history strongly investigates the past and searches for clues to the success they desire. The present is for people without hope and those not motivated enough to work for what they want.

The second type of history is Antiquarian history. This type of history is for the man who is mainly concerned with preserving the past. He recalls the past and thinks of it fondly. There is a great respect and loyalty to the past. The man recognizes this is his origin and cannot stray from it. The continuity between the past and present life is essential to his happiness. This strength in preserving continuity reveals the light in which the past is viewed.

The third type of history is Critical history. This type of history...