Story meant leaving Mad terrain

Here's an interesting question (and surprising answer) from philosophy of history and language: If there is broad agreement about a past event, how much does it matter whether that agreement is faithful to history? John Perry at Philosophy Talk:

But an enormous amount of language has to do with providing information about things and people we will never encounter, that can't possibly be of value to us in guiding our interactions with those things and people. I mean fiction and history. In the case of fiction, the people don't even exist; I know a lot about Sherlock Holmes, but I'll never be in a situation to greet him by name, and ask how he really feels about Dr. Watson. In the case of history, the people, for the most part, are dead. I know a lot about Aristotle, but I'll never be in a position to ask him what Plato was really like. What's the point of all of these books about dead people, and unreal people, and all the time we spend reading about them and talking about them?

The best answer, it seems to me, is that exchanging information about people turned out to be too much fun to limit ourselves to people we might encounter.

Of course getting the facts right is important or the wrong or harmful lessons might be drawn. But Perry's right: having been thrown into history, story gave meaning to an otherwise mad terrain.