History and truth

As a post in between, before I will write about the anti-racism debate that I visited this Sunday, I will post part of an Orkut discussion here about history and truth. An Orkuter announced a new community she founded, called "What really happened". She says about that community: "It's about inescapable historical realities that leaders of nations will lie to their people about. As long as we remain inactive, the liars have no reason to stop..So lets discuss and spread the bitter truth about the past and make sure we aren't fooled again in the future." As you can see in the community picture (see picture on the left), the discussions focus on "what really happened" with regard to the war in Iraq.

Here's part of the discussion that followed, with my "favourite" discussion partner: Roberta. She said that history is nothing without archeological proof to back it up. I said that I didn't agree, that instead I thought that history is nothing without interpretation.

I said:
The past is no longer here. Some objects are still here, but the past is always dependent on how we humans interpret it. It depends on the glasses through which we look at the past.History is nothing without interpretation. There is no absolute truth because an infinite number of interpretations is possible.

Roberta said:
By saying this, you ignore the FORENSICS which can pinpoint a murder case based on PAST events and HISTORY, as well as Archaeological evidence, i.e. bodies.

Interpretation is ONLY needed when we do not know the FACTS. If we know them, we do not need to interpret them.I give you an example:5 witnesses watch a car accident. Two white cars and one red car collide. First white car has 2 passengers and one driver. The others have only the drivers.The 5 witnesses will give statements regarding the accident.. how THEY perceived it (INTERPRETATION), but ALL of them will have ONE thing in COMMON, the FACT. And the FACT is: 3 cars collided. 2 white and 1 red. There were 2 passengers and 3 drivers. Now you understand what I mean?I do not care for interpretations. I care for the FACTS. I don't care how the accident happen. If we know it, GOOD! It's a bonus. If we don't, we wil find out through the FACTS. Simple.

Esther said:
Ok, but I don't care for facts only, I think interpretations are very important for how we look at the world.We will never never agree on "what really happened" where ever. Maybe we will one day agree about the facts, but we will never agree whether it was a good thing that Bush started a war in Iraq or not. I have been reading a lot from Derrida these days and it's interesting how he describes how the way we look at the world and describe it is influenced by our coloured glasses, by the way we interpret the signs that we see around us. It's a long story to explain this in detail, but at least my conclusion is that archeological findings will never tell us "what really happened", because it depends on how we interpret what we have found. If we already don't agree about what's happening at present, how can we ever agree about the past?
this is the first time i am writing here, i know Esther form orkut, but this subject called my attention.facts and interpretation.
i read in a magazine some time ago that a famous rock star had given a great amount of money to help a hospital that especialized to cure some desease, i forgot- and the story was touching and moving, cuz it was his first big cheque for some record,and he had suffered a lot in his childhood cuz he had had that same desease and could not afford proper treatment and the research on the cure was not supported by outside money, cuz it was rare( no profit to find the cure)....and he was so happy to be doing that...and that was a whole beautiful story behind that fact

at the same night i had this dream
there was a picture of this same rock star( it was steve vai,actually) with a very very big cheque with the amount written on it and a short note "Steve vai donated this huge amount to this hospital"
what bothered me when i woke up, is that just telling the fact, it seemed a totally other story.just facts, no feelings
and i do believe story is not only made of facts, but our emotional evolution too. the way we interprete things at the time and now and in the future.

like what you were saying Esther about being a stranger, or living in a different country. whatever you are is in fact inside you, your roots, your culture your story, but i do believe the more you travel, the more you have the opportunity to live with different people, countries and culture and feel it, like in the beer episode, more you grow as a personl, as a human being. It wont be only theory or books, but real life experince and realize " nobody owns the absolut truth", it changes according to culture.
i lived in England and in Morocco for a while and i was still myself, i am brazilian, i was raised here but i feel at home in London much more than here
and if you dont take it as if " i cant talk to them and explain i am not a whore cuz i show my face in moroco or drink beer in india, just accepet thats their luggage, their culture,it broadens your mind,learning without trying to change.
we only take from another country what is good to us, what we agree( some people do certain things to fit, or be accept, but your real self will connect to what is part of you that you can find out by being alone, far from what you've been told since you were born in your culture, a stranger has to learn to live with himself and make his own choices- thats the best way to get to know ourselves better, to be alone in a totally new situation, culture
LOL- sorry i got carried away
Hi Thais,

Thank you very much for your comment, I totally agree. Facts are easy because it can be known if they are true or not. But the part of a view perspective which isn't factual is often more interesting. Maybe we can never know what is objectively true and what not, but subjective truths / emotions / opinions / values are at least as important.

It's funny that I can be a stranger at home just as well as somewhere else. The "I don't fit" topic interests me a lot. That's the part of Heideggers philosophy that I like a lot, the idea that you shouldn't give in too much to social pressure of the mass, to follow the herd, but that you stay close to your real self, to your desires and values the way they have grown in you. I like it very much to travel and to get to know other cultures, and to get to know more about myself by seeing differences. If you look at it in that way it could be that a stranger is not unrooted because he is not at his own soil / ground, maybe a stranger will stronger realise what his roots are like, when he is confronted with a completely different surroundings. When he is confronted with new experiences he can really think about where he belongs and what fits for him and what not.
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