Why Study Geography?
Excerpts from The Classics "Declassified"
(C) 1977 Dan Peel
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1. To LEARN the constant and UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLES OF
HUMAN NATURE by seeing men reacting in different kinds of situations and circumstances.
(Ex. Humans all over the world still love, hate, hope, and need friends.)

“Mankind are so much the same, in all times and places, that history [includes Geography] informs us of nothing new or strange in particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature, by showing men all varieties of circumstances and situations, and furnishing us with materials from which we may form our observations and become acquainted with the regular springs of human action and behavior.
Hume (1711-1776 A.D.) An Essay Concerning Human
Understanding, Section 8 (Of Liberty and Necessity), Part 1

2. In order to UNDERSTAND, LIVE, and EXIST in our present world. Our world is “shrinking”. We must trade, understand, and exist with others.
“There is, however, no advantage in reflections on the past further than may be of service to the present. For the future we must provide by maintaining what the present gives us and redoubling our efforts . . . .”
Thucydides (c. 460-400 B.C..) The History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 1, Ch. 5

3. In order to JUDGE OUR OWN CUSTOMS and actions BETTER by examining the customs of different peoples.
“It is good to know something of the customs of different peoples in order to judge more sanely our own, and not to think that everything of a fashion not ours is absurd and contrary to reason, as do those who have seen nothing.”
Descartes (1596-1650 A.D.) Discourse on the Method of Rightly
Conducting the Reason and Seeking for Truth in the Sciences, Part 1

4. To INSURE ORDER in Society by having an informed, EDUCATED people. (Tolerance for other cultures, races, etc.)
“An instructed and intelligent people, besides, are always more decent and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one.” “. . . in free countries, where the safety of government depends very much upon the favorable judgment which the people may form of its conduct, it must surely be of the highest importance that they should not be disposed to judge rashly or capriciously concerning it.”
Adam Smith (1723-1790 A.D.) The Wealth of Nations, Book V, Part 3, Article II

5. It teaches us to PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE.
(Ex. There have been numerous “doomsdays”, and yet life still goes on. Earthquakes, flood, and wars over resources are not new.)
“So many humours, so many sects, so many judgments, opinions, laws, and customs, teach us to judge aright of our own, and inform our understanding to discover its imperfections and natural infirmity, which is no trivial speculation. So many mutations of states and kingdoms, and so many turns and revolutions of public fortune, will make us wise enough to make no great wonder of our own.”
Montaigne (1533-1592 A.D.) Essays, Book 1

6. To AVOID THE ERRORS of other people and countries AND to PROFIT FROM THEIR GOOD IDEAS.
“. . . it is necessary, while formulating the problems of which in our further advance we are to find the solutions, to call into council the views of those of our predecessors who have declared any opinion on this subject, in order that we may profit by whatever is sound in their suggestions and avoid their errors.” Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) On the Soul, Book 1

7. In order to REMOVE PREJUDICES and INCREASE UNDERSTANDING.
(Ex. “Indians were unintelligent savages.” What about the Aztecs, Mayas, Olmecs, etc.? In many ways they were more advanced than the Europeans of that time period. Ex. Hitler killed six million Jews during World War II. If we don’t learn from cultural and economic geography, we may be condemned to repeat the atrocities of the past.)
“The more they (the people) are instructed the less liable they are to the delusions of enthusiasm and superstition, which, among ignorant nations, frequently occasion the most dreadful disorders. An instructed and intelligent people, besides, are always more decent and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one.”
Adam Smith (1723-1790 A.D.) The Wealth of Nations, Book 5

8. In order to “TRAVEL” TO ANOTHER PLACE and time by “listening” to people describe their time and country.
(We can “talk” to the great and heroic men of other countries and times.)
“For to converse with those of other centuries is almost the same as to travel.”
Descartes (1596-1650 A.D.) Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking for Truth in the Sciences, Part 1

“. . . in the records of history [including geography]; he shall, by reading those books, converse with the great and heroic souls of the best ages.” “Human understanding is marvelously enlightened by daily conversation with men, for we are, otherwise, compressed and heaped up in ourselves, and have our sight limited to the length of our own noses.”
Montaigne (1533-1592 A.D.) Essays, Book 1

9. In order to KEEP OUR PRINCIPLES ALIVE by keeping those thoughts alive. (Compare them to principles in other countries.
Democracy & economic freedom vs. Communism, Socialism, etc.)

“How can our principles become dead, unless the impressions (thoughts) which correspond to them are extinguished? But it is in thy power to continuously fan these thoughts into a flame.”
Marcus Aurelius (121-180 A.D.) Meditations, Book 7

10. In order to ADVANCE MAN’S KNOWLEDGE.
“It is different for man, made only for infinity. He is ignorant in his lives of first age, but he never ceases to learn as he goes forward, for he has the advantage not only of his own experience but also of his predecessor’s, because he always keeps in his memory the knowledge he has once acquired, and that of the ancients is always at hand in the books they have left. And since he keeps his knowledge, he can also easily increase it, so that men today are in a certain sense in the same condition in which those ancient philosophers would be if they could have prolonged their old age until now, adding to the knowledge they had what their studies might have won for them by the grace of so many centuries. Hence it is that by a special prerogative not only does each man advance from day to day in the sciences, but all men together make continual progress as the universe grows old, because the same thing happens in the succession of men as in the different ages of an individual man. So that the whole series of men during the course of so many centuries should be considered as one self-same man, always in existence and continually learning.”
Pascal (1623-1662 A.D.) Preface to the Treatise on the Vacuum

11. IT’S FUN! GEOGRAPHY CAN TAKE YOU TO DIFFERENT LANDS AND CULTURES. YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT DIFFERENT PEOPLE AND CUSTOMS. IT’S FASCINATING!
(Geography includes Physical, Cultural, and Economic Geography.)

The five fundamental themes in Geography are;
1. Location: Position on the Earth’s surface
2. Place: Physical and human characteristics
3. Relationships within places: Humans and Environments
4. Movement: Humans interacting on the Earth
5. Regions: How they form and change
“. . . for it is the business and duty of historians [and Geographers] to be exact, truthful, and wholly free from passion, and neither interest nor fear, hatred nor love, should make them swerve from the path of truth, whose mother is history [including Geography], rival of time, storehouse of deeds, witness for the past, example and counsel for the present, and warning for the future.”
Cervantes (1547-1616 A.D.) The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

12. IT’S THE ______. Our government has realized the importance the above reasons for studying Geography. There are some things in life that we must do. (Work to eat, etc.)