All living beings have their own evolution and their own life-span. But human beings are the only living beings who know that they live while they live—who know, and not only instinctively feel, that they are going to die. Other living beings have an often extraordinary and accurate sense of time. But we have a sense of our history, which amounts to something else. "The question of scientific knowledge" is the title and subject of my next chapter; the presence of historical thinking is the title and subject of this one. Scientific knowledge, dependent as it is on scientific method, is by its nature open to question. The existence of historical knowledge, the inevitable presence of the past in our minds, is not. We are all historians by nature, while we are scientists only by choice.
At the End of an Age (2002), p. 50