Emmanuel Castaño Senior Seminar; P.7 Mr. Clover The Different Perceptions on Truth In, Rashomon, a film by Akira Kurosawa, after many versions of a story, we only knowfor sure that a samurai is dead and his wife was raped in the forest. Many different versions tothis story were told throughout the movie to the judge in charge of this case. It is very difficult toknow what really happened in the forest since everyone who told the story had a differentversion of what happened. I believe that the most accurate way to view this incident is with filmdirector Errol Morris‟ believe that the truth is objective and that there is only one possible truthdespite the many different ways a story was report reported. A different view to the truth of what happened in the forest is that of Roger Ebert. He isan American film critic, and views the truth as subjective. He believes that it is relative to theperson viewing it, therefore, in his opinion, what is true for one person, is not necessarily true foranother. This is supporter when he says, “The genius of „Rashomon‟ is that all of the flashbacksare both true and false. True, in that they present an accurate portrait of what each witness thinkshappened. False, because as Kurosawa observes in his autobiography, „Human beings are unableto be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves withoutembellishing‟” (Ebert). Nevertheless, based on the views of Errol Morris, truth is objective and absolute,regardless of any beliefs others may have on the matter. Although many people can haveopinions on a theory such as gravity, and if it is constant on this planet, there is only one truth,
whether we have already found it or not. Morris states this when tells The Believer in hisinterview, “I do not believe that truth is subjective. Just thinking something does not make it so.This idea that there is no reality, that truth is up for grabs, or that truth is subjective, I find foolishand unappetizing.” (Morris). Furthermore, as Morris says in his interview, “there’s a differentthesis that I do believe very strongly. There is such a thing as truth,” and, “We may not have allthe evidence in hand in order to adjudicate the question, but underneath the question there‟s aphysical reality. I am a realist in that sense; I believe in the real world” (Morris). This supportsthe idea that there can only be one truth and that it does not depend on anyone‟s beliefs becausethose are only theories that cannot be supported since only the single truth can be supported. According to Plato, K=JTB, in other words, knowledge can only be attained if we have atrue, justified belief. For something to be considered true, it must have always been true and itmust remain true indefinitely. However, in order to justify these beliefs, we must use differentways of knowing (WoK). One of these ways of knowing is reason, it is a useful tool to use whenverifying theories. Using our previous knowledge and common sense to attempt to understandnew ideas is very important in situations such as courtroom trails like the one in Rashomonbecause it helps one use logic to attain the truth and discover if something is in fact knowledge.Another important way of knowing if something is true or false is for deciding who is to blamein a case such as Rashomon is authority. Someone with authority is someone with knowledge ina certain area. Although an authority figure is not always an accurate source, it is often reliabledue to the knowledge it is believed they hold. In court when witnesses are called in, they have asense of authority since they are the only ones who saw what transpired through their own wayof knowing, perception. If truth was subjective, then the evidence provided in the case inRashomon would be enough for that to be considered the truth. Nevertheless, despite the
different ways of knowing, and what may be widely accepted or agreed upon, as Errol Morrisstated, there is only one truth, and simply because an authority figure believes they saw someonecommitting a crime, does not necessarily mean it is the truth about what happened. Despite Ebert‟s argument, I believe that Morris‟ logic makes the most sense. Ebertbelieves that the people telling the different versions of what happened in the forest are beingtruthful in the sense that they are saying what they believe happened. However, with Morris‟logic, even if they believe it is true because they believe that it can be considered knowledge, ifwhat they say is not what happened, then it is by definition, not true, and therefore they do nothave knowledge of this, what they claim is in fact false. In my opinion there is only one absolutetruth to what happened in the forest in the film Rashomon, and even though it is not revealed, itdoes not mean that all the different speculations of what happened are true.
Works CitedPoppy, Nick. “Errol Morris.” The Believer. The Believer, Apr. 2004. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <http://www.believermag.com/issues/200404/?read=interview_morris>.“Rashomon (1950).” Roger Ebert. Sun Times, 26 May 2002. Web. 5 Mar. 2011. <http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20020526/REVIEWS08/205 260301/1023>.