For a 3 day course ie Foundations of Education in Epistemology and Curriculum, we were given a small task to be done before coming for the classes. The task was to watch the movie “12 Angry Men” and to relate its context in terms of knowledge.At first, the task seemed completely irrelevant and out of sync with the movie. Since I had watched the movie beforehand, it seemed to me a waste of both time and energy and I was sure this task was nothing but a lame attempt by the philosopher taking the course to “make people think”. Nonetheless, I watched the movie again and this time, to my surprise and slight disappointment at being proved wrong, I started perceiving the different layers depicted in the movie, started seeing its relevance in context to how we conceive knowledge and even how we see the world.
One thing that floated in my mind again and again while watching the movie was, knowledge is based on perception and perception often is not objective and depends on how acceptable or convenient the facts presented are.
The movie shows a court house where a jury is given time until they come up with a unanimous verdict in case of a boy who allegedly murdered his father. Now, the problem was getting all the jurors in sync and reaching a unanimous decision since the jurors represented all sections of the society and each one came with their own personal baggage of bias and notions.
Second time around and seeing the movie in a whole new light, I started noticing various things. Like in real life, this movie also has different kinds of believers. It shows how to simply align to the popular beliefs or trends most people forgo what they believe in or ignore what they could have seen had they gone deeper because most of the people don’t even believe that they as a person can make a difference or be otherwise.
Furthermore, the movie points to what reality actually is. Is reality what is presented to us? Or what we infer out of it or what we see after we try to be objective or even after all this, is reality in fact ambiguous and something that can only be perceived and not proven and does the same go for knowledge?
Since knowledge is more objective than fact driven, it is possible that the world we live in, the things we believe in have some other side to them which we have all simply ignored in a hurry to accept what is given, to quickly align and most importantly to save the extra mile that needs to be taken to go deeper to form an honest opinion in order to develop an understanding.
12 Angry Men dealt with a dozen people’s anger and in the process, tossed a question at an equally angry world. A simple question which can never be answered without being ambiguous; what is real?
Relating the movie to the present world was also an aspect that gave me so much to think about. So many notions and ideas and opinions we form each day without being patient enough to think them through. So many times we refuse to simply sit and discuss, listen to what the other has to say and explore the possibility of adding their knowledge or views to ours.
The movie again and again had a juror pleading and urging the rest of the jurors to think about the possibility of a certain thing. The presence of the idea of a possibility suddenly opens a thousand doors for us and forces us to step a step further than our demarcated comfort zone.
A very important and interesting part of the film was, almost no names were used in the entire movie while addressing the people. Jurors were identified mainly by their numbers. This leaving out of the names in fact did a huge favour to the audience. The old insignificant man, the white arrogant man, the man who thought he knew everything, could have been anyone. It could be me, the people I know or anyone from my family. The movie gave the traits, a type of person and left on us to relate or not relate to them.
Some things, some incidents, some experiences tend to break the wall in our minds, in our thinking and take us a notch further in terms of knowledge, in terms of understanding and in terms of being a relevant being in this world.
Watching this movie in a whole new light did to me just that.
Till the time such incidents and experiences happen, learning continues. It’s amazing to think what new can be learnt each day, each hour and even if we live a thousand years, there would still be an enormous number of things that we wouldn’t have even the faintest idea about.
A curious and an inquisitive mind make life a mystery that can be solved everyday only to find a new challenge after each layer is uncovered.
Cogito ergo sum
I think, therefore I am