Explain and interpret a quote using a film (The Farewell by Lulu Wang) and the corresponding reading to guide your analysis. “What is primordially true, i.e. unhidden, is not the proposition about a being, but the being itself – a thing, a fact. A being is true, understood in the Greek way, when it shows itself as what it is: true gold. By contrast, bogus gold shows itself as something it is not: it covers up, it conceals its what-being, it conceals itself as the being it actually is.” – Heidegger, “The Question Concerning the Essence of Untruth,” p. 86
Martin Heidegger’s philosophical inquiry into truth and untruth, as expressed in his essay “The Question Concerning the Essence of Untruth,” offers a profound perspective on the nature of being and authenticity. Heidegger’s assertion that what is fundamentally true is not merely a statement about a being but the being itself forms the cornerstone of our analysis. To shed light on this philosophical concept, we will delve into Lulu Wang’s poignant film “The Farewell” . In this essay, we will explore how Heidegger’s ideas on truth and authenticity are exemplified in the film, drawing from both the film itself and relevant readings. Through the use of in-text citations and a meticulous reference list, we will provide a comprehensive examination of this philosophical concept in the context of the film.
The Essence of Truth and Untruth in Heidegger’s Philosophy
Heidegger’s philosophy emphasizes the fundamental distinction between truth and untruth, asserting that true beings reveal their authentic nature while false beings obscure it (Heidegger, 1961). Heidegger’s statement, “What is primordially true, i.e. unhidden, is not the proposition about a being, but the being itself – a thing, a fact,” encapsulates this concept. In this context, truth is not a matter of mere correspondence to a proposition; rather, it is the disclosure of a being’s essence. This philosophical underpinning sets the stage for our analysis of “The Farewell.” Heidegger contends that the core of truth is not in making propositions but in the revelation of beings as they truly are. It is not about constructing statements or concealing information. Instead, truth is about exposing the authentic nature of a being. This philosophical perspective becomes a lens through which we can analyze the characters and their actions in “The Farewell.”
Authenticity and Deception in “The Farewell”
Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” provides a poignant illustration of Heidegger’s ideas on truth and authenticity. The film revolves around Billi, a Chinese-American woman, who returns to China with her family under the pretext of a fake wedding to stealthily say goodbye to their beloved grandmother, Nai Nai, who is terminally ill. In the film, the family conceals the truth about Nai Nai’s condition from her, creating a fictional narrative to protect her feelings. This act of deception can be seen as an embodiment of Heidegger’s concept of untruth. The family’s deception covers up the reality of Nai Nai’s condition, concealing the being she actually is. Nai Nai’s illness is an instance of the concealed truth in the film. She is the embodiment of an authentic being, facing the reality of her mortality, while the family’s actions represent the untruth as they fabricate a fake wedding to divert her attention. The family’s intentions are driven by a sense of moral duty and love for Nai Nai, believing that it is better for her not to know the full extent of her illness. However, the question arises whether such well-intentioned deception aligns with Heidegger’s philosophy of authenticity.
The Authenticity of Nai Nai’s Truth
As the film progresses, Billi grapples with the ethical and emotional implications of concealing the truth. This internal struggle highlights Heidegger’s idea that truth is the revelation of a being’s essence. In the case of Nai Nai, the authenticity of her truth is preserved by the family’s actions. The family’s intention is not to deceive her for malicious purposes but to protect her emotional well-being. In this context, the film exemplifies Heidegger’s assertion that a being is true when it shows itself as what it is, much like true gold (Heidegger, 1961). Nai Nai’s authenticity lies not only in her illness but in her unwavering love for her family. Her strength and resilience in the face of her condition reflect her true essence. The family’s decision to shield her from the full truth can be understood as an act of preserving the authenticity of her love and concern for her family. The film raises a complex ethical dilemma that resonates with Heidegger’s ideas. It prompts the audience to contemplate whether it is more authentic to reveal the painful truth or to protect the emotional well-being of a loved one through well-intentioned deception.
The Consequences of Deception
While the family’s deception in “The Farewell” aligns with Heidegger’s concept of untruth, the film also portrays the consequences of concealing the truth. The family’s attempts to maintain the facade of the fake wedding result in moments of tension, confusion, and emotional turmoil. These consequences shed light on the challenging nature of untruth and the difficulties it can pose in maintaining authentic relationships. In Heidegger’s philosophy, untruth is not merely the absence of truth; it is an active distortion or concealing of the being’s authentic nature. The family’s deception, although driven by love, causes a strain in their relationships. Billi, in particular, finds herself torn between her loyalty to her family’s decision and her longing for a more open and authentic connection with her grandmother. This internal conflict exemplifies the tension that can arise when untruth becomes a part of one’s relationships and interactions.
The Redemption of Truth
Ultimately, “The Farewell” provides a redemptive arc where the truth is partially revealed. Billi has a heartfelt conversation with Nai Nai, where she expresses her feelings and reveals the family’s secret. This moment of truth exemplifies Heidegger’s notion that authentic beings reveal their true nature. The family’s act of revealing the truth to Nai Nai is a testament to the film’s exploration of Heidegger’s philosophical ideas. This moment of truth serves as a cathartic release, allowing Billi to share her true feelings with Nai Nai. It is a poignant example of Heidegger’s belief that truth is a revelation of being’s authentic nature. The family’s decision to disclose the truth can be seen as an act of authenticity, as they no longer hide the reality of Nai Nai’s condition. This moment of vulnerability and honesty strengthens the connection between Billi and Nai Nai, highlighting the potential for healing and growth through the revelation of truth.
The Philosophical Implications
“The Farewell” serves as a thought-provoking exploration of Heidegger’s philosophy of truth and untruth. The film presents a nuanced portrayal of the complexities of authenticity and deception in human relationships. While the family’s initial deception aligns with Heidegger’s concept of untruth, their ultimate decision to reveal the truth reflects the redemptive potential of authenticity. The film underscores the idea that authenticity is not always straightforward and that it can manifest in various forms. Heidegger’s philosophy encourages a deeper understanding of the relationship between truth and being, and “The Farewell” serves as a compelling case study in this context. The ethical dilemma presented in the film challenges viewers to consider the boundaries of truth, authenticity, and the motivations behind concealing or revealing the truth.
Our exploration of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of truth and untruth in the context of Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell” has unveiled a rich tapestry of ideas and emotions. The film serves as a poignant canvas for dissecting Heidegger’s assertion that authenticity and truth are intertwined in the revelation of a being’s essence. The family’s well-intentioned deception, driven by love and concern for Nai Nai, exemplifies the complexities of untruth and its implications for human relationships. However, the ultimate revelation of the truth to Nai Nai showcases the redemptive power of authenticity, fostering a deeper connection and understanding between Billi and her grandmother. “The Farewell” challenges us to grapple with ethical dilemmas and to consider the multifaceted nature of truth, authenticity, and the human experience. Through Heidegger’s philosophical lens, the film underscores the intricate interplay between what is hidden and what is revealed, ultimately demonstrating that the quest for truth is a journey that transcends the confines of mere words and propositions.
Heidegger, M. (1961). The Question Concerning the Essence of Untruth. In Pathmarks (pp. 69-97). Cambridge University Press.
Wang, L. (Director). (2019). The Farewell [Video].
Frequently Ask Questions ( FQA)
Q1: What is the central theme of the essay “Exploring Truth and Deception through Heidegger’s Philosophy in ‘The Farewell’ by Lulu Wang”?
A1: The central theme of the essay is the exploration of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of truth and untruth within the context of the film “The Farewell” directed by Lulu Wang. The essay delves into Heidegger’s ideas about the essence of truth and untruth and how they are exemplified in the film.
Q2: What is Heidegger’s perspective on truth and untruth, as mentioned in the essay?
A2: Heidegger’s perspective is that what is fundamentally true is not merely a statement about a being but the being itself. Truth is the revelation of a being’s authentic nature, while untruth involves concealing or distorting a being’s essence.
Q3: How does the essay analyze the concept of authenticity and deception in “The Farewell”?
A3: The essay explores how the family in “The Farewell” conceals the truth about Nai Nai’s terminal illness through a fake wedding, highlighting the ethical dilemma of authenticity versus deception.
Q4: How does the essay address the consequences of concealing the truth in the film?
A4: The essay discusses how the family’s deception results in tension, confusion, and emotional turmoil, illustrating the challenges and complexities of untruth in maintaining authentic relationships.
Q5: Does the essay provide examples of the film’s redemptive moments related to the concept of truth?
A5: Yes, the essay discusses the redemptive moment when Billi reveals the truth to Nai Nai, which aligns with Heidegger’s notion that authentic beings reveal their true nature.