Re: History

Richard Spear (rspear@PRIMENET.COM)
Tue, 29 Aug 1995 18:12:33 -0800

On 30 Aug 95 at 0:28, John Mcreery wrote:

> To which I reply, there's that damned "P" again. No (capital-P) People has
> ever written its own history and none ever shall, unless somewhere there
> exists a People composed entirely of historians. The author is always some
> particular someone, who may or may not be one of the People in question.

This idea that people are somehow *not* part of a larger group
(People) may be what makes us talk by each other. An anthropologist
would argue (probably supported by most sociologists and
psychologists) that people only rarely act independently of People ... I
think that you hinted at exactly this in an earlier message. Umm,
while each of us individually contributes to the larger picture, it
is that "picture" that defines us and our contributions. That's what
culture is all about.

> While it is surely a good thing for insiders to contribute their perspectives an
> d equally surely a bad thing for a People's history to be written entirely by
> outsiders, and worse still if the outsiders misuse power to suppress (or
> simply ignore) what insiders' have to say, there is no guarantee that an
> insider is more likely to get it right than a conscientous and sympathetic
> outsider who may, on occasion, have negative things to say. (Objectivity is
> not the absence of judgment, but the grace to refrain from making a judgment
> while gathering as much data as practically possible and taking the time to
> listen actively to the people one is working with.)

No, objectivity is making a judgement based *only* on the data
gathered ... what you describe is politeness. No human being (or
machine designed by a human being) can *make* a judgement based only
on data. We color it to suit our preferences ... an earlier poster
(from the space society?) said it better than I am now ... "... I too
believe in an objective reality, but the problem is that there is no
such thing as an objective interpretation of that reality."