The Truman Show and The
Search for Truth
• Religions suggest this world is not the “real”
world. According to Buddha: “A wise man,
recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does
not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”
• Plato in his Allegory of the Cave argues that the
world of the senses is a world of illusion; and that
the true philosopher must see through this
illusion to the truth.
• Galilio appears a hero of science in his willingness
to argue against the beliefs of the church to
assert the earth revolves around the sun.
But: What’s so hot about the truth?
• The truth is frequently: ugly, painful, hard, and
disillusioning. There is no Santa Claus.
• Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it.
• Better to be a happy pig or a miserable human
• Should you tell your best friend that his girl or
boy friend is cheating on him or her?
But people seem to prefer the truth.
• Philosophic Thought Experiment. Imagine a
machine, like in the Matrix. If you hook your
brain up to it you will be given a perfect life. It
will have ups and downs, just like real life, but in
the end you will say: I have lived a full life. I have
achieved all I wanted to achieve. I have no
• Would you hook yourself up to such a machine?
• The great majority of people say, no.
• People seem to prefer the truth.
• People do not want to live a life that is fake,
phony, or somehow an illusion.
Quotes from ETR
• “The truth is intrinsically valuable to someone who
cares to know the truth even if it is inconvenient. It is
valued intrinsically…however unpleasant it may be and
regardless of the burdens it places on one”(EIR 73).
• “We also want our own existence to be ‘true.’ Nearly
all of us so crave authenticity that we would not be
willing to trade an authentic existence, even suffused
with anguish and disappointment, for a contrived
existence that is thoroughly artificial but relentlessly
pleasurable (EIR 75).”
The Plot of TS as Search for Truth
• Part 1: We are shown Truman’s life. He has a
house, a car, a wife, and a job. He lives in a
very pleasant small community. But he is
vaguely discontented. He appears obsessed
with a lost love. In a way, he appears a typical
man in his late 20’s. He has achieved his goals
but not yet accepted his fate.
• Part 2: Strange things start to happen. After
the incident with the car radio, Truman starts
to observe the world around him. He sits in
town square and looks. He starts to test the
“reality.” But he wonders if something is
wrong with him. Is he paranoid? Trying to be
spontaneous he tests more vigorously and
tries to leave Seahaven. He is going out to
seek knowledge that might relieve him of his
doubts about the reality of the world around
• Part 3: Convinced that he is being watched
(though he has no clear proof)(why should
anybody be watching him), Truman goes
“crazy.” He escapes from his own house by
digging a hole in his basement and heads out
to sea. Apparently, he believes the Truth lies
off the island and beyond the horizon.
• According to Plato, once a philosopher sees
the light of truth, he will act in ways that make
others, who have not seen the light, think he
• Part Three and a Half: The Truth Revealed?
• Once Truman’s boat hits the wall and Christof
speaks to him directly and explains his
situation, Truman has a choice. As Christof
says, the world on the other side is no better
than the world of Seahaven, and that world is
safer than the world out there. But once one
has seen the Truth is there really any choice.
How would we have felt about Truman and
the movie as a whole had he simply gotten
back in his boat and gone back to Seahaven?