Method

Notes on some guiding principles.

Intra naturae finis viventi (‘For one who lives within the limits of nature’, Horace, Satires, 1.1.49-50). Writing in the first century BC, the Roman poet argued that contentment is essential for successful living and that a person who lives within the limits of nature will not seek more than what is conducive to true happiness. How to achieve these aims requires thought and enquiry.

As fast as a camel can trot. ‘We know that what we do in too much of a hurry we often spend a long time repenting; but we still ignore the old Latin tag festina lente, ‘make haste slowly’. There is an Arab saying that a person’s soul can only travel as fast as a camel can trot… ‘Speed slowly’ is nonsense; but ‘haste slowly’ is good advice.’ — A.C. Grayling, Thinking of Answers (2010), p. 243.

“Please hurry up!” We need to hurry up to do many things, including saving ourselves and other living species on our planet. But to preserve land, air and water for survival and well-being, we also need to slow down and abandon the fast and frenetic exploitation of nature. In the interests of life and the environment, this website supports the Slow Movement.

Slow history. As with the preparation of slow food, slow history places an emphasis on taking time, being careful and having long-range perspectives. Of special interest is the role of historical understanding in providing a framework of ideas for interpreting the world, for establishing priorities and for practical and ethical decision-making.

Origins – Issues – Assumptions. With history as our guide, Mother Nature as our protector, and local, state and federal governments as defenders of our way of life, we might think we will have a lot to celebrate in 2013, the bicentenary of the crossing of the Blue Mountains and the centenary of Canberra. Then again…

“O God, make me a good historian but not yet.” Perhaps an oft-said though unspoken prayer. But we cannot afford, as individuals or as societies, to abandon sound historical method. If we find ourselves unable to approach the past with honesty, integrity and sound method, what hope is there for us in the future?


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