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Rashomon Essay


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Rashomon Essay

  1. 1. Simon Lin<br />Senior Seminar<br />Period 4<br />November 11, 2010<br />True or Not<br />“It is human nature to listen to witnesses and decide who is telling the truth” (Ebert). In Ebert’s review, truth is relative. By definition relativism, there is no such thing as absolute truth that exists in an objective way independent of what anyone happens to believe is true. Instead, truth is relative and may be different for different individuals. In the film Rashomon directed by Akira Kurosawa, during the testimonials all three suspects claim themselves a killer. In the end the fourth witness, the woodcutter, explains what happen during the murderer, but it might not be true as well. Therefore, Ebert’s relativism supports the film more than Morris’ view of the film and can be supported by the theory of common sense, certainty, and ways of knowing.<br />Common sense allure the us with beliefs that consists of little more than vague and untested, and are based on such things such as prejudice, hearsay, and blind appeals to authority; therefore common sense makes up relativism since it means that different individual can have his or her own opinion. Related to common sense, there is always a mental map that is created in each persons mind. In the mental map it includes ideas of what is true and what is false, what is reasonable and what is unreasonable. For example the film Rashomon, different people will have their own mental map of who the real murderer is, there are different viewpoints to give the audience to make the decision. Everyone will have their own mental map, which relativism is shown, there could be two or more conflicting truths. When the bandit tells his story about the murder, common sense is established into the mind, saying that he really did kill the husband. However, when the wife tells the story about the murdering, common sense is disrupted by a new viewpoint of truth. Then after the husband’s story about the murder, common sense is completely destroyed, and assumptions are all confused. Assumptions are all baffled because there was more then two possible truth and no one has enough evidence or any support to back up their reasoning. Therefore truth about the real murderer becomes relative to each viewpoint. If there are problems with the common-sense picture of the murderer, perhaps abandoning every single understanding of the film and limit to what is certain in each story about the murder scene.<br />As Ebert stated, “What he doesn't understand is that while there is an explanation of the film's four eyewitness accounts of a murder, there is not a solution”, without being able to have certainty about the murderer conclusions ends with relativism. Certainty in the film Rashomon reflects relativism is because the idea that when something is certain it is true and has no doubts about it; but when the “something” is merely believed, one may think it is true, but it is no certain. At the first trail, the bandit, it seems reasonable enough, but as the wife, the husband, and the woodcutter tell their story and start thinking critically at the situations each provides; one may start to wonder if any of the murder is telling the truth and be completely certain. By not being certain it shows how Ebert believes that truths are relative, Rashomon clearly shows the uncertainty between all of the viewpoints about the murderer. To be certain about things, the ways of knowing are used for clarification.<br />Through the use of language and perception in the ways of knowing, relativism is supported that there could not be any certainty. Language enables people to acquire knowledge from other people, and claim to know a great many things because the knowledge has been told to people. However by believing something is certain by the words of other might be false. In Rashomon, if people believe in the words of the husband, the wife, the bandit, and the woodcutter, nothing would make sense, everybody is correct. Therefore, if everyone is correct there will be two or more conflicting truths. Also, as Ebert stated “It is human nature to listen to witnesses and decide who is telling the truth”. In this case, everybody is true when referred to relativism. On the other hand, Perception is based on personal experience, but what is being seen can be deceiving. Relating to Rashomon any of the death of the husband can truth or false, it suggest that perception should not be blindly trusted and assume that it will give certainty. Therefore the truth is relative by the ways of knowing.<br />Hence, Ebert’s viewpoint toward Rashomon is relativism is stronger than Morris’ viewpoint toward Rashomon. Through the use of common sense, certainty, and language and perception in the ways of knowing it points out how the film relates to relative truth. Anyone can be true and false in the same time, so there is not any absolute truth. It is possible to find the absolute truth but the human nature is resisting people to unable to be certain about who is the real murderer. <br />