Reality and Representations in Rashōmon, Gnoseology, and Quantum Mechanics


Mario Alai (Università di Urbino Carlo Bo)


Kurosawa’s intriguing masterpiece Rashōmon might appear as a manifesto of post-modern relativism, according to which we cannot know any “objective reality”, but only alternative subjective “versions” of the world. This is also what some quotes by Kurosawa seem to suggest.
No doubt, the accounts of an event given from alternative conceptual, epistemic, or psychological perspectives may be very different. Yet, such stories may all correspond to the actual world, and often, by relativising them to the subjects’ standpoints, we can grasp some important features of the subjectindependent reality.
In fact, by this method the actual course of events in Rashōmon can be reconstructed in a fairly plausible and unambiguous way. Although the spectator can gather her clues only from the apparently confusing and unreliable accounts of the various characters, perhaps Kurosawa’s story is less enigmatic than he himself thought.
The script also bears striking resemblances to the puzzles of quantum mechanics. Actually, if current theories are right, microphysical reality is even more elusive than historic reality, portrayed by Kurosawa through the deforming mirrors of subjective drives and motivations. But upon reflection, even in quantum mechanics there is no need to give up the idea that there exists an objective, if awkward, reality, and that we can know it at least partially and perspectively.

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Mario Alai, 2017, Reality and Representations in Rashōmon, Gnoseology, and Quantum Mechanics (3)