The Truman Show

Philosophical Questions Worth Considering

  1. Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank

    Does Truman’s apprehension of freedom depend upon his apprehension of truth, or does his apprehension of truth depend upon his strive for freedom?
  2. Is it sufficient for us to believe that we are free for us to be free?
  3. How does Truman know (and does he know) for sure that the door he discovers at the end of the film is not merely a ploy hatched by the producers to make him think he is escaping his constructed reality?  How does he know (and does he know) that the dome studio is not located in a yet bigger dome studio, with even more cameras?  Perhaps he thinks it is safe to assume he is escaping his constructed reality based on what he understands about the world, but, then, he also felt for the first twenty-nine years of his life it was safe to assume, based on what he understood about the world, that he was not even in a constructed reality to start with.  How reliable, therefore, should he assume his understanding of the world, and what is real or even possible, is?
  4. In light of the above question, is it necessary for us to believe that we are free for us to be free?  In the event that the door was not some sort of ploy designed to deceive Truman, that Truman is not located in a still larger dome, but that Truman believes it is a ploy and that he is still trapped, is he free despite his belief to the contrary?  Or, would this feeling of still-being-trapped make him intrinsically unfree?
  5. Truman strives for both truth and freedom.  But, considering that governments exist outside of the world created for Truman, governments that use threats of violence in order to coerce subjects into conforming to various rigid standards and secrecy in order to maintain internal operations, what is Truman’s prospects for acquiring either?  Assuming Truman wishes to continue in his pursuit of freeom and truth after walking through the door, what political creed ought he adopt to aid in his pursuit of both, and why?
  6. Growing up, Truman wanted to be an explorer.  The employees of the corporation that had adopted Truman discouraged Truman from pursuing this desire in every manner they could imagine.  Yet, Truman never looses his underlying adventuristic spirit.  Is this depiction realistic, and if so, what does it tell us about the nurture v. nature debate, if anything?  Where does Truman’s desire for adventure and exploration come from?
  7. When asked why Truman had never previously come close to discovering the true nature of his world, director Christof simply responds by saying, “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.”  Do you think Christof is correct or incorrect in his assessment?  Provide examples.  How does this statement relate to Plato’s allegory of the cave?
  8. Benjamin Franklin is famously atributed as saying, and probably did say, “Thoſe who would give up eſſential Liberty, to purchaſe a little temporary Safety, DESERVE neither Liberty nor Safety.”  While it would appear that Christof disagrees with Franklin’s assessment, Truman would appear to agree therewith.  Where do you stand?  Would you have walked through the door at the end of the film, as Truman did and as Franklin presumably also would, or would you adhere to Christof’s plea and return to the safety of Seahaven?  Why?