Has the multifaceted nature of Roma been considered from a philosophical perspective? The answer is no. Reflections on the multifaceted nature of Roma have been made from a medical perspective. From a descriptive-diagnostic standpoint. They seek the right diagnosis on the assumption that there is something dysfunctional about Romani society. I understand this type of reflection to be that which tries to be objective and scientific. Its descriptions attempt to render a diagnosis for the situation of Roma. Romani society is observed in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis. This type of reflection describes “reality as it is” or “tells what is seen” so that explanations can be found. It is supposed that this kind of investigative thinking involves positioning oneself in front of the object of study in an attempt to describe facts as they exist. It is this type of thinking that is found in the vast majority of bibliographical materials covering the multifaceted nature of Roma. They seek to understand what they see or what has occurred, and from these descriptions explain reality. There is supposedly no intention of “saving” or “condemning” the multifaceted nature of Roma but rather of generating an accurate description of its present state or a narrative of its historical development that can stand as a primary explanation for its current situation. For example:
It appears that from this perspective one can only accept what they are saying without any objections. It is nonetheless possible and particularly necessary to make a couple of principled objections in regards to the multifaceted nature of Roma. The first is that the alleged facts on which descriptions are based are not facts but rather interpretations of facts. And such interpretations are strongly influenced by the context in which they are considered. A distinction must be drawn between a context of discovery and one of justification. In the philosophy of science, the context of justification comprises the tests or demonstrations that scientists present to justify and defend the truth of their hypotheses. The context of discovery includes the factors that influence the creation and acceptance of a theory. This context should include elements that are not strictly scientific (such as psychological, moral, cultural, political, etc. factors) that can influence whether an idea or theory is accepted by the scientific community. Until the 1960s, it was considered that the context of justification was fundamental to explaining the acceptance of one theory over another. When two theories contradicted each other the more rational and truer one prevailed. But that is not the way it works. Because we are culturally situated beings. That is to say we do not interact with reality devoid of preconceived ideas and pre-determined paradigms, or of mental and emotional structures, or of moral and conceptual categories, or of a noosphere. Our relationship with the world is arbitrated by all of this interior architecture, and this interior architecture is shaped by the cultural context in which an individual exists. History shows how beliefs determine what one considers to be true and what one does not. It was not exactly because it was more rational to think that the earth was the centre of the universe that the ideas of Galileo were rejected. We must distinguish between the way one obtains a result and the way it is justified. So the first step when considering the multifaceted nature of Roma must be to question the parameters of our thoughts about them. It is not a matter of describing what one sees, but of analysing the intention in the observer’s eye. What might be the intention of Mª Helena Sánchez, who writes in her paper (aimed at thinking “objectively” about the historical trajectory of Roma) the following dedication: “To my father, a lover of flamenco but not of Roma”. Oh well.
Another objection to this type of approach is that it does not take into account the fact that ideas do not only describe reality, they also create it. This distinction was made by Max Weber, who said that such ideas act as both indexes and factors. As an index they describe reality, but the way they describe it works as a factor, as a creator of reality. By analogy, in cinema the way a film is edited can make it seem like either a drama or a comedy. More recently, the latest definition of Roma by the RAE (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language) deserves attention. My main intellectual objection is precisely that the inclusion of trapacero (a colloquial term meaning “swindler”) within the accepted definitions of Roma does not function as an index but as a factor. That is, it is not a description of reality but instead creates one. Or rather, a description of reality creates the reality being described. Hence scholars who agreed to include the above definition cannot justify their decision behind the excuse of an alleged description of objective reality. They are not aseptic: they are contributing to the maintenance of a reality where Roma are put on the same level as individuals who use deception and artifice to defraud people. I say “maintenance” because that is precisely one of the characteristic features of the semantisation of the multifaceted nature of Roma during the legislative campaign against them, which officially existed from 1499 to 1978 and whose consequences are still with us. A blatant example of this presence is the inclusion of trapacero in the definition of Roma. Its evolution can be traced to the first Pragmatic Decree of 1499:
That is what the text of the pragmatic decree said. And this semantisation, this supposed truth justified measures against the multifaceted nature of Roma such as extermination, deportation and imprisonment by the State. It is therefore worthwhile to consider what Nietzsche said and Foucault elaborated on about the relationship between truth and power: that power imposes its own truth; that we need to create discourse that claims to speak truth in order to exercise power; that we are subjected to the production of the truth by power and can only exercise power through the production of truth. Why should we not forget that the legislative campaign against Roma in Spain has led to a type of truth-proclaiming discourse about them? No exercise of power exists without being economical with truth. Creating discourse which claims to speak the truth is really an exercise of power. Each party assumes its own level of responsibility.