Philosopher and essayist George Santayana is credited with writing, "Those who do not read history are condemned to repeat it." There are numerous variations of his words: Eg,
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.It is such a nifty, quotable, intelligent, elevated and seemingly commonsensical remark. But how sensible is it where the rubber hits the road?
Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.
Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But those who do learn from history seem to repeat it as well since what is learned depends entirely on the individual's attentiveness and outlook. Count the wars, count the famines, assess the fallout from various past kinds of greed, anger and ignorance ... someone must have learned something along the way, but I guess there was either not enough social consciousness of what needed to be learned or the appreciations of that learning were various and contradictory.
Learn or don't learn, read or don't read ... still the repetitions go on and the wiles of greed, anger and ignorance are best seen and dealt with after looking in the mirror.