Objective truth versus subjective truth (revised)


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Objective truth versus subjective truth (revised)

  1. 1. Naoki Maruyama<br />March 24, 2011<br />Senior Sem per.2<br />Mr. Clover<br />Is truth relative, or absolute?<br />A movie called Rashomon, filmed by Akira Kurosawa gives great impact on people by showing the difficulty of distinguishing truth and reality. There are two men commented on the film who are Errol Morris and Roger Ebert. Both of them think differently on the truth toward the Rashomon. Morris expected that the truth is always absolute and cannot be relevant, so all he wants to know is the fact that one person died, and there is only one killer in a film. On the other hand, Evert believes that the truth can be multiple and it will change by the perspective of who does see. Although Morris’ contention deals mostly with the self deceptions of the movie’s characters, Ebert and I disagree and think that the theme of the movie is that there can be more than one version of the truth.<br />Errol Morris looks at Rashomon as pertaining to the objective truth theory. He claims that no matter how many different ways people look at things, there is always absolutely one truth. It means, the ultimate truth is an unalterable and permanent fact, so it cannot be changed and there can only be one. Morris proposes that even though there is one ‘ultimate truth,’ the characters in the movie are affected by what they care when the case happens, so their stories are all different. Morris is saying that the five different versions of the truth are actually ways for each of the characters to avoid the things they do not wanted to see, thus they are simply deceiving themselves. In the film of Rashomon, five people are witnessed different story by what they see on the court for the murder of a samurai. According to their stories, there are some same points that we can figure out, that are a samurai was killed by someone, and a wife was raped. So, the court called five witnesses to listen to their testimony. The woodcutter, who is the first who found the dead samurai, then the priest, who saw the last living samurai, the bandit, who killed the samurai, the woman, who was a wife of the samurai, and the killed samurai himself by being possessed by a medium. However, each of their stories is not same and did not match each other’s testimony. Even though they all answered what they saw when they are at the point, we cannot know the truth that who killed samurai, and where did a dagger go. According to Morris, their stories can “NOT” be a real truth. (Morris, 2003) He thinks there is only one absolute reality which is known as ‘ultimate reality.” No matter what those witnesses say, the truth cannot be more than one, so Morris thinks that either only one of them is telling the truth, or the ‘ultimate truth’ is actually some sort of combination of each person’s account of the incident. However, Kurosawa, who created a movie, did not give us the real answer of this mysterious story. He tries to make the audiences infer and find out the truth themselves.<br />On the other hand, Ebert and I have a different view from Morris about the Rashomon; that there is a subjective truth to the film. We believe in relativism, which theorizes that truth belongs to each person, so everyone has their own truth and no one can be define what is right or what is wrong. In all means, people have their own perspectives which can be different from the other perspective, but if you believe it, then it will be your truth. For example, in religion, even though some people say “god does exist” that will be their truth, but for someone who does not believe in god, it will not be their truth. The problem is they cannot prove this. Even though one side believes in god and cannot prove it, as same as the other side, people who does not believe in god cannot prove there is no god too. In the Rashomon, there are five witnesses telling about the different stories and no one cannot prove that the stories really true or not. Additionally, no one has a right to disprove the truth without any scientific or strong evidence, so in the Ebert’s idea, those stories are all can be true. That is what Ebert and I strongly believe in, and in the case of Rashomon, and relativism mostly fits to its theme. <br />Additionally, if we use the Ebert’s idea, the truth people distinguish is depends on what kind of confirmation biases each the person has. People naturally avoid seeing the facts which are harmful for them and this process can occur in consciousness or sub-consciousness. Also in Rashomon, the confirmation bias is occurring too. Dead samurai’s story is the one to see the confirmation bias. He said he killed himself because he lost to the bandit and lost his wife’s purity, and felt despair. The samurai’s view point can be attributed to coherence since it is in his nature to be an honorable person. From his view point, he must have died in n noble way, thus his story is based on coherence in that he committed suicide that he would be the righteous way to die. He cannot accept the truth that a petty bandit kills him. In this time era the spirit is still existed, and Japanese thought that death was the most beautiful thing in the world. This is especially true for samurai, who are likely to stab their stomach in an act well known as “Harakiri.” When they failed their mission or lost their match. This is because if they made a mistake and they believed that it is the virtuous way to wipe away their disgrace. In the theory of relativism, this means that the truth to the samurai is that he killed himself. Thus, both Ebert and I think that this confirmation bias is exactly what happens in the Rashomon.<br />In conclusion, Ebert’s view of the Rashomon better fits to Kurosawa’s intention than Morris’ view. Although Morris says that truth cannot be more than one even in Rashomon, there are no ways to prove that whose story is true or lie, and then Ebert’s idea of subjective truth theory best fit for the movie. Lastly, Rashomon was not a movie intended to tell the truth to audiences. Kurosawa’s purpose of making his film is to tell the audiences that humans tend to tell their own story and they have their own truth in their own minds from their perception and personal experiences. Overall, in Rashomon, what Roger Ebert says fit well to the theme of Rashomon which believes there can be multiple truthes.<br />