From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Historic recurrence is the repetition of similar events in history. In the extreme, the concept hypothetically assumes the form of the Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence, which has been written about in various forms since antiquity and was described in the 19th century by Heinrich Heine and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Nevertheless, while it is often remarked that "History repeats itself," in cycles of less than cosmological duration this cannot be strictly true. That was appreciated by Mark Twain, who has been quoted as saying that "History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme."
In this interpretation of recurrence, as opposed perhaps to the Nietzschean interpretation, there is no metaphysics. Recurrences take place due to ascertainable circumstances and chains of causality. An example of the mechanism is the ubiquitous phenomenon of multiple independent discovery in science and technology, which has been described by Robert K. Merton and Harriet Zuckerman.
In The Idea of Historical Recurrence in Western Thought, G.W. Trompf traces historically recurring patterns of political thought and behavior in the west since antiquity. If history has lessons to impart, they are to be found par excellence in such recurring patterns.
Historic recurrences can sometimes induce a sense of "convergence," "resonance" or déjà vu.
- Eternal return
- Multiple discovery
- List of multiple discoveries
- Repetition, a related concept by Søren Kierkegaard