Abellanosa: A philosophy of 'Chismis and History'

Abellanosa: A philosophy of 'Chismis and History'

FOR saying that history "is based on facts, not opinion," a popular historian was attacked by trolls and berated despite his academic credentials. He ended up assassinated, figuratively, and verbally, by those who're more than willing to fight for their "truths."

But what brought us here, to this point where people who do not have the credentials would question those who are "authorities" in the field?

Nietzsche once claimed that "if ever there is truth such cannot be found as an eternal principle or in a universal logic." In fact, he said, "the principles of logic are not pure forms of knowledge preceding experience but merely regulative articles of faith."

Marxism challenges many of society's foundational truths, putting them into question as ideologies of the superstructure. Perhaps truth is just a product of the dialectic of material conditions. What institutions call truth is but a veil that hides alienation; it is, in fact, a creation of the relations of production brought about by the mode of production that prevails in a certain epoch.

Although, this is not completely original, because we find something similar in GWF Hegel who tells us that history is a process of dialectical change. What we call history is the movement of the spirit that brings forth "reality" into this world. There is no absolute "being" but only "becoming."

We may then ask in a somewhat sophisticated fashion: if so, is there truth and if ever there is then what is it? Closer to our time the neo-Pragmatist Richard Rorty would say that there is no such thing as truth but only "truth candidates."

What am I saying here? The crisis of truth did not actually start among the "masses." It's the academics who first put into question the reality of "truth" itself. We talked about the truth of the "sciences" versus the truth of "religion," of empirical truths versus revealed truths. Through the years, we have been telling people that "ultimately" truth is not singular, not coherent, and not unified. Isn't this a different way of saying that my truth is as good as yours?

Propositions like "there is no such thing as truth but only interpretations" are powerful but also dangerous. They are like weapons that can be used by humanity to free society from its dogmatic slumbers. But when they are absorbed and used by "untrained minds" they can also be like weapons of mass destruction that can harm an entire civilization.

Academics must now explain to us the philosophy behind their interpretation of facts. They must be able to explain why despite the possibility of changing interpretations due to the discovery of new facts, there is truth. We should rescue and save the truth before we can rescue and save history from chismis.

The statement "history is like chismis" must be unpacked. The statement may read insane but behind it is a kind of philosophical view, in fact a moral outlook. It is the complete radicalization of the positions of some thinkers who believe that truth is relative and that there is no truth but only interpretations. If the statement therefore is dangerous, then academics must take the statement seriously, and also take responsibility for having provided some philosophical basis for this ridiculous yet morally dangerous claim.


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