Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why So Serious?

Yes. I love Batman. But the title of the post is still quite relevant!

Ancient societies left much for us to figure out. Art, writing, cities, and thousands of mysteries. Scientists, historians, and archaeologists study these things and discern knowledge from them about these ancient societies.

And yet, how could we really know what these things meant to these ancient peoples? We ourselves as a society have created thousands of "not serious" works. TV, movies, books, art, etc are related to humor and entertainment. Our use of sarcasm is widespread, so much so that there are books that read as serious but we know they are joking, because of our context in our society. Would a scientist in a thousand years understand that this is humor, or would he think we believed every word?

History has recognized that ancient cultures did at times express humor, but what I am questioning is how we could possibly know what is humor and what is serious? Question everything. Do not take anything you are told for granted. Develop your own opinion rather than blindly following the thoughts and ideas of others.

Allow for the concept that ancient cultures were possibly more advanced than ours. We cannot say what they were thinking, or even whether they decided what to destroy or leave for us to find. It is always assumed that past cultures lack our intelligence and technology, but who are we to assume such things? Comprehension of past cultures is never completely possible, because we did not live back then, speak the language, or see what actually happened. No one person alive today can authentically verify events happening more than 100 miles from their given location at any moment, or more than a lifetime beyond their own. I sit here today, and I cannot say for sure that past events actually occured because I, myself, was not there. We tend to trust history and the media and the records of our past and what we are told, but only a fool trusts what he is told over what he sees or does not see.

By first hand accounts of the people who were there, I know some of the events of WWII to be true, however I cannot say with certainty that what we believed happened in our Civil War is true, because I know no one who was alive at that time (of course). Going even farther back leads to even deeper speculation, we simply cannot say how much of our "knowledge" is really based in fact.

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