in Marginalia

De la Costa on History

“There are those who say that all we can learn from history is that we never learn from history. Perhaps that is an extreme position…But if history can give us no foresight whatever, and perhaps little hindsight, what can it give us? History gives us a knowledge of men. Not the abstract knowledge we derive from philosophy, not the more or less fictional knowledge we derive from literature, but a concrete knowledge, a knowledge of men acting, men suffering, men in every conceivable circumstance of life and death…Perhaps a kind of wisdom. Not ready-made solutions to our present ills; not fantastic speculations as to the future; but the courage to face the facts, the humility to learn from them, the intelligence to act upon them, and the faith to believe that if we do what in us lies, God will do the rest.

— Horacio de la Costa, S. J., as quoted in Gregorio C. Brilliantes’ Chronicles of Interesting Times