What Is Truth? A Literature Review Gmu Phil 253 Final Paper

1814 words - 8 pages

Erika Dyer
Professor Brandhorst
PHIL 253-004
10 December 2017
Final Paper
What is truth? Is truth merely a lie we all tell ourselves to agree upon? Is truth a singular type of story? Can it be multiple things? Perhaps it can be all of the above. Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H., O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Nietzsche’s “On Truth and lies in an Extra-Moral Sense,” Cixous’ “The Laugh of the Medusa,” and Freud’s “Infantile Genital Organization & Medusa’s Head” bring about similar topics of stories, lies, and variances of abstract truths through their different works.
This begs the question of what exactly is truth? According to O’Brien, there are three types of truth regarding events. There is the happening truth, the seeming truth, and the story truth. First off, O’Brien describes happening truth as the event itself that happened in a factual sense. It is the men dying in the war, blown up just feet from you by a grenade. But like O’Brien the young soldier, you do not look at the faces of the men who are fallen near you (O’Brien 58). This lack of observing the happening truth around you brings about the story truth. Story truth is a fictional truth written about the factual truth of people dying in the war, in order to bring about the seeming truth. Story truth would be that the men fallen near you are not faceless, but are your comrades with names, lives, and families that you had formed relationships with and you did observe them passing into death (O’Brien 12). The seeming truth is the truth that not a grenade killed your comrade near you, but the sunlight he stepped into sent him flying into the air at such a force that he exploded (O’Brien 67). The story truth is created to help remember the happening truth through the seeming truth. Similarly, in Lispector, the happening truth is that she killed a cockroach and ate it, discovering the truth of human life over humanized life (Lispector 174). The story truth is the entire book, she is rewriting her experiences with new perspectives of the experience (seeming truth) she underwent in order to not forget what changed her life. Both Lispector and O’Brien’s characters faced life changing experiences, one in war, one in discovering the neutral, which they both want to remember, so they create alternative truths to never forget.
According to Nietzsche, truth is an arbitrary word that really is just a socially accepted lie. In order for society to function the way it does, according to Nietzsche, humans decided to create these lies to agree upon to create order (Nietzsche 53). These lies are simple ones such as 2+2=4 and thou shall not kill. However, the danger that comes with these agreed upon truths to Nietzsche is the fact that humans forget that we lied to ourselves to create them. Nietzsche says we humans willingly put on this disguise in order to have a high functioning society, but all too often we forget the disguise is on and in turn think accept the lie as reality (Nietzs...


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