Why Ideas and not Events Should Take Center Stage

At some point during my education I was told that history, as opposed to pre-history, began with the invention of writing and essentially consisted of a record of important events that had transpired since then. If you’re a certain age, you likely heard something similar. And as in my case, the fact that your teachers started out with this definition of history likely had some important consequences for the way they taught it to you.

When you think of history as a written record, you reduce it to an inert catalog of events…