Is it possible to ultimately conclude that all truth is good, whereas falsehood represents evil? If only truth existed, we would have solved all the world's greatest mysteries, though lost purpose in life, found literature and films pointless. Contrary, if there was only falsehood, love and trust would not have formed the basis for most human interrelationships. Thus, both truth and falsehood should be seen as a whole.
The term 'truth' has no objective definition which a majority of professional philosophers agree on, but is shaped by values, beliefs, observations. Hence, the motifs for speaking the 'truth' are often dependent on one's personal objections whether they are selfish ends, educational purposes, self-assertion, self-perfection. For most, regardless of how convincing evidence of one's fact may be, it is never trusted until fully believed, for 'the truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new'. Thus, the conflict between knowledge and senses becomes a psychological barrier owing to which 'truth' may be perceived as false.
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Falsehood is the opposite of truth. There are two fundamental forms of 'falsehood' - non-disclosure, that is, concealing the truth, and distortion, or disclosing information that is untrue. Moreover, there are various types of 'falsehood' such as gossip, story-telling, 'true falsehood', half-truth, slander, forgery, exaggeration, bluff. People following 'the bitter truth is better than a sweet lie' rule do not think over reactions, reciprocations of those they are saying that 'truth' to. Whereas they perceive it as their responsibility, the honourable duty they must fulfil, the action is often seen as tactless.
Formally, 'truth' is an established fact or reality, and thus is neutral, that is, neither represents 'good' nor 'evil'. What if falsehood, or 'evil' in this sense, is asserted for beneficiary purposes? In medicine, 'white lies' are told in an attempt to avoid worsening of one's condition. Though telling the lie contradicts ordinary moral norms, it is justified by the motive behind it - protecting the well being of the patient - and the primacy of that motive in the mission of health care. If deception is 'the act of convincing another to believe in information that is not true', then illusion is a voluntary self-deceit. This illusionary truth is easily manipulated by communication mediums - literature, films, theatre. Despite the obvious conventions, one gives in to and savours this 'truth'.
How are the notions of 'truth' and 'falsehood' examined in natural sciences? Let us turn to Mathematics, the Queen of the Sciences. As has been stated earlier, the above notions are objective, and thus do not exist in Mathematics. Once a mathematical theorem is proven, it will never become 'false'. The proof is based on the truthfulness of axioms, or fundamental truths, and by logically deducing their
The fundamental concept of such reasoning is that one cannot draw up a false conclusion, turn falsehood into truth, probability into non-probability. The only way to question its truthfulness, however, is by assessing the given proofs and non-contradictions.
Truthfulness in natural sciences is based on an experiment. If a hypothesis is not proven to be true, adopted concepts are revised, and a new theory is advanced, adducing other concepts, leading to new verifications. Notions are evolved and altered with each discovery, whereas the fundamental physical principles remain unchanged. This way elementary particle physics, quantum physics, almost all modern technology - electronic computerization, television, radio, space flights, up-to-date chemistry and biology - stems from Newton's conceptions of space and time. Unlike Mathematics, experiments in experimental sciences are correct with some degree of probability. This way, when it is said that the established truth differs from the errancy, we add 'with an overpowering probability'. Misconceptions are unavoidable in science, and do not represent themselves pseudo-science which strived to prove a conception using unscientific methods. The main objective of science is selecting the most credible explanations adhere to them until experience or theory does not make one deny them.
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The symbolism of 'knife' and 'blood' in Blood Wedding by Federico García Lorca and Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi
Since the representations of 'knife' and 'blood' are often encountered in everyday setting, their frequent references in literature, such as the play Blood Wedding and the novel Woman at Point Zero, are not surprising. Although the two symbols often complement each other with the 'blood' being the direct consequence of the job of a 'knife', they are not always seen as destructive and may, in fact, offer positive connotations. The literary works being assessed offer an abundance of highly relevant themes, the detailed exploration of which is impossible by ignoring the immense relevance of symbolism.
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The recurring image of a 'knife', the age-old symbol of male sexuality and aggression, appears throughout Blood Wedding from the opening scene of peaceful life between the Mother and her beloved son to the concluding soliloquy. Driven by instinctual passions, 'knives... guns... pistols, even the sickle and the scythe...'1 as destroyers of sacredness and nature are represented through the widowed Mother's manifestation of sorrow for her dead husband and first-born son, who would 'still be alive today, warm and full of hopes, if men had never invented knives'2. 'How can something so small, a gun, a knife, bring down a bull of a man?'3 creates irony through juxtaposing the small size of the device against its horrendous effect with a bull, a true Spanish symbol of masculinity and human fertility, representing all male characters fallen from the destructive power of the former.
Unlike Blood Wedding, the symbol of a 'knife' in Woman at Point Zero is less repetitive due to the urban backdrop the tragedy unravels in and the fact that the relations are generally portrayed between the opposite sexes with indubitable male dominance over the weaker sex. Hence, the domestic abuse is commonplace, and is encouraged, let alone permissible, by the Islamic religion: '... it was precisely men well versed in their religion who beat their wives. The precepts of religion permitted such punishment'4.Thus, it is no surprise for the reader
that Firdaus, the protagonist of the novel, uses a 'knife' as a means to an end of her repressed hatred towards men. Her denial of having committed a crime: 'No woman can be a criminal. To be a criminal one must be a man'5, perfectly links with the play's depiction of solely male characters as murderers.
Although the usage of weaponry terms is not as abundant in Woman at Point Zero as it is in Blood Wedding, the image of a 'dagger' is shared in both, with 'plunging dagger'6 and 'silver dagger'7 respectively. Whilst in Blood Wedding a 'knife' is compared to a 'snake', a Biblical reference to the treacherous nature of serpent from the Garden of Eden 'cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field'8, and a 'fish' due to the similarity of shapes and, perhaps, the common silvery lambency, El Saadawi applies its image in a more metaphorical way, rather than symbolically. Thus, in Woman at Point Zero a 'knife' is mostly associated with the eyes' murderous gleam, 'they were eyes that killed, like a knife, probing, cutting deep down inside, their look steady, unwavering'9, and the coldness of the tone of voice, 'the voice was hers, steady, cutting deep down inside, cold as a knife'10.
Whereas in Blood Wedding a knife is solely an agent of death, 'blood' is its direct representation. In fact the very title foreshadows the inevitability of forthcoming tragedy, capturing the continuity of the life-or-death duel. It is worth noting that the oxymoron 'blood wedding' may be referring to the traditional wedding between the Bride and the Bridegroom with the spilled blood of the latter as a consequence, as well as the forest 'wedding' of the Bride and Leonardo Felix, the solitary character with an individual identity, his name expressing the irony of his destiny, who would have 'mingled their bloods'11 by then.
The Woodcutters, the destroyers of nature's life themselves, too, foreshadow the tragic dénouement: 'Better to die of bloodletting than to live with it stagnant in your veins'12, with 'bloodletting' symbolizing the antagonistic struggle between the lovers' long-held ineluctable, impetuous passions and the expectation to conform to oppressive societal laws. Interestingly, the name 'Leonardo', Germanic and Latin in origin, is literally translated as 'lion-bold' from Spanish - a clear reference to the antagonist's 'hot-blooded'13, rebellious nature.
Similarly, El Saadawi presents an image of 'blood beating strongly through the veins'14 which, despite its exaggerated language, refers to the feeling of excitement experienced by Firdaus having earned her first ten pound note. Although this may seem as an insignificant detail to a conventional twenty-first century reader living in a capitalist world, it represents the new chapter in the protagonist's life for she had now realized her true 'value': 'It was as if he had lifted a veil from my eyes, and I was seeing for the first time'15. This notion of 'blood' as a new beginning, in this sense returning to being a 'successful prostitute'16 instead of remaining a 'misled saint'17, is further supported: 'The time had come for me to shed the last grain of virtue, the last drop of sanctity in my blood'18. The mention of 'time' instantly urges the reader to reflect upon the protagonist's past for it will now be changed forever. The repetition of 'the last', perhaps, implies that Firdaus had been contemplating on changing her workplace for a while, although her final decision was triggered by the news of Ibrahim's engagement to the chairman's daughter. Nevertheless, time constancy is sharply contrasted with the finality of her previous life as a 'respectable woman'19 she had once wished to become. The notions of 'grain' and 'drop' allow close inferences to the play's 'wheat' and
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'water' to be made, with both symbolizing life.
Additionally, 'blood' represents inescapable genetic inheritance, manifested best in the Mother's reminiscence of her first-born son's death: '... and I soaked my hands in his blood, and licked them with my tongue. Because it was mine as well'20. The slightly repelling imagery intensifies the enormity of her loss whilst regarding 'blood' as an integral part of human existence, the ultimate spilling of which marks the inevitable disruption of life's cyclical nature. Moreover, 'blood' refers to the strength of blood ties in feudal Andalusian families. The Father's premonition of Leonardo coming to a 'sticky end'21 is justified by the latter's possessing 'bad blood'22, whereas the Mother's husband's strength is explained by his 'good blood'23, further contrasting the lineage of the two conflicting kins.
For both symbols of 'knife' and 'blood' are directly linked to the theme of death, the inevitability of which is advocated by Lorca, it is worth specifying its double meaning in reference to both Blood Wedding and Woman at Point Zero. Primarily, 'death' has the direct, physical meaning signifying the cessation of one's existence. The other, more subtle, relates to mental death, or death-in-life, that is, having no purpose owing to the severity of social limitations imposed on one's life, tragedy associated with the past losses, rejected love, betrayal. Lorca's double perspective on death is implied in his dual, yet mutually complementary in the context of the play, portrayal of it in the symbolically personified Moon leaving a 'knife hanging in the sky, a cold trap of lead that seeks blood's warm cry'24 and the Beggar demanding a 'crust of bread'25.
That fact of being homosexual in a distinctly patriarchal conservative Spain had undoubtedly contributed to Lorca's solitude for his natural passions and desires, too, could not be fulfilled. By presenting the societal norms as intolerable, the playwright calls attention to a plight of minority groups in his native Andalusia as well as foretells the tragic consequences a rebellion, the Bride's climactic elopement with Leonardo, against such norms may lead to - two male deaths and three women 'condemned to a lifetime of remembering'26. The symbolism of 'knife' and 'blood' is vital to fully understand and appreciate the significance of the two literary works as it reveals the underlying, hidden representations. Despite the overall simplicity of the plot, the combination of Blood Wedding's sophisticated symbolism and surrealist imagery transforms a real-life event, 'Crime of Najar', into a work of high art.