In his book The Changing World Order, investor Ray Dalio argues the old adage that history repeats itself is true. The problem is that the cycles often take longer than most people’s lifespan, so they go unnoticed.
Our neurology is the same as 100, 1,000, even 10,000 years ago. We have the same brains as our ancestors, and the same brains generate the same problems.
The stage went from the savannah to the village to the metropolis, but the play is still the same. People want to be part of the tribe and secure the best mate.
For a concrete example of how unoriginal today’s problems are, read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations or Epictetus’ Manual. Both are almost 2,000 years old, but they could have been written yesterday.
Studying history has nothing to do with high school tests about names and numbers. It’s about stories and patterns.
Of course, the future remains unpredictable. But being able to pattern-match ongoing events against previous ones allows us to check what other people have already tried. And, maybe, do better.