Friday, February 25, 2011

Reflections on European History, post #1

Welcome to my newly created blog "Reflections on European history". Let me say a few words concerning why I have created this blog and what I intend with it.

First of all - I am by formal training an historian. I have a masters degree in modern history. I wrote my thesis on Richard Nixon's foreign diplomacy, or more specifically about how the US related to the conflict between Israel and Egypt (and the other neighboring Arab states) in the period immediately preceding the 1973 Yom-Kippur War.

But even though I have my degree, which you would think should make me more qualified than the average person to know a lot of stuff about history, I often feel like I know nothing at all. I feel that I lack specific knowledge about things that have happened, and I often feel that I lack an understanding of exactly why things happened. And the more I read, the more convinced I become that I know very little - and I certainly understand what Socrates meant when he said that he knew nothing (not that I am comparing myself with him in any other sense, of course). So, I certainly get humbled my my own ignorance at times.

Thus, part of my intention with this blog is to have an outlet to express my reflections on history as part of my own educational process.

The second aspect of this is that I am certainly a European. By that I mean both by ethnicity (I am Norwegian), and also (and more importantly) culturally and by mindset. I do not mean to imply that it is not important to know about the history outside of Europe. To understand the history of Europe itself it is of course important to lift your gaze slightly and see things that have been happening outside of Europe throughout history. And I also try to be open and tolerant towards other cultures. But as a European I am mainly interested in understanding European history and culture. And this blog is all about that - making sense of the European history, and thereby making sense of much that is happening today.

Also, I would be very interesting in feedback and other reflections on any topic that might pop up, so feel free to comment on this and upcoming posts.

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