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Exposing the Falseness of Truth in On the Nature of the Universe

Exposing the Falseness of Truth in On the Nature of the Universe

Truth is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it? Questions regarding the nature of truth have always been central to not only philosophers, but all men (and women, of course) who possess any desire for knowledge. For while truth itself is an elusive concept, it is also the underlying theme of all science — which is the basis of knowledge — and so the seeker of learning must first discover his own truth about the world; without a strong belief, the slippery nature of truth will only serve to confuse and mislead the student of life. A person who is lacking a basic understanding of truth can never fully grasp the fine distinction between appearance and reality, yet the ability to separate the two is essential to anyone interested in knowledge at a higher level, where appearances lead only to dead ends. Or do they? And who says appearance is not reality? At the heart of this matter is the conflict between truth as an absolute and the truth of the senses; while this may seem like a trivial matter (truth is true, isn’t it?), it is anything but.

If there does indeed exist an absolute truth, as the Socratics claim, then all attempts to understand the universe are futile, since human senses can never adequately grasp a truth that is so far above everyday experience. On the other hand, the Epicurean view of truth is much more encouraging; after all, this explanation of truth as being of the senses offers the hope that individuals have the ability to create, and therefore understand, their own universe. The Epicureans, by advocating truth of the senses, basically claim that whatever appears to be something, really is, whereas followers of Socrates would disc…

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…y that this debate over its relativity can ever be satisfactorily settled. Nevertheless, both philosophies have valid arguments, and each also has its merits from the common man’s point of view; while Plato’s truth appeals to the seekers of knowledge and idealists who dream of a perfect world, Lucretius’ definition of truth brings comfort to those who need to believe that what they can see and feel is a reliable representation of reality. Both of these explanations could be valid, yet the question remains, and will continue to haunt philosophers as long as man continues to philosophize: what is truth, and if someone accidentally stumbles on its actual nature, how will he recognize it when all he has learned is the art of doubt?

Bibliography

Lucretius. On the Nature of the Universe. Tr. R. E. Latham. Introduction by John Godwin. Penguin Books, London: 1994.

The Character of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Gunnar Boklund in “Hamlet” performs a partial-analysis on the character of Ophelia in Shakespeare’s tragedy, Hamlet:

The only character who is presented almost entirely as a victim is Ophelia, a victim of the King’s fear and curiosity, her father’s servility and fundamental indifference to her, Hamlet’s misunderstanding of the situation and brutal treatment of her, and finally his fatal thrust through the arras in the closet scene. Her madness is, as I see it, a purely pathetic element in the play. In the world where Hamlet has been forced to act, there appears to be no room for passive and obedient innocence. It is crushed, and perishes. (123)

It is the intent of this essay to examine the “passive and obedient innocence” of this victimized character, as well as many other facets of the interesting personality of Hamlet’s girlfriend – with input from numerous literary critics.

The protagonist of the tragedy, Prince Hamlet, initially appears in the play dressed in solemn black, mourning the death of his father supposedly by snakebite while he was away at Wittenberg as a student. Hamlet laments the hasty remarriage of his mother to his father’s brother, an incestuous act; thus in his first soliloquy he cries out, “Frailty, thy name is woman!” Ophelia enters the play with her brother Laertes, who, in parting for school, bids her farewell and gives her advice regarding her relationship with Hamlet. Ophelia agrees to abide by the advice: “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep as watchman to my heart.” After Laertes’ departure, Polonius inquires of Ophelia concerning the “private time” which Hamlet spends with her. He dismisses Hamlet’s overtures as “Affection, puh!” Polonius considers Ophelia a “green girl,” incapable of recognizing true love: “These blazes . . . you must not take for fire.” He gets her assurance that she will not talk with Hamlet anymore.

When the ghost talks privately to Hamlet, he learns not only about the murder of his father, but also about the unfaithfulness and adultery of his mother. Gertrude was seduced by “that incestuous, that adulterate beast,/With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts” – Claudius himself – prior to his brother’s passing. “So lust, though to a radiant angel link’d,/Will sate itself in a celestial bed,/And prey on garbage.” In the mind of Hamlet, this drastically reduces the goodness of womankind generally. Hamlet chooses to use an “antic disposition” to disguise his actions as he maneuvers to kill the one who poisoned his father in the garden.

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