In the documentary film Grizzly Man, there are aspects of these two truths that can be investigated. The film is about the man Timothy Treadwell and his infatuation and obsession with grizzly bears. He lived among the grizzly bears in Alaska for thirteen summers, meeting his end at the hands of one in 2003. Treadwell valued the existence of bears as much as he did any other human. He considered himself a protector of their species and also somewhat as a friend. Treadwell believed that the bears were misunderstood and that if he could live as they do he could coexist with them. What is interesting and brings the concept of truth to the surface is that one of the park rangers in the film claims that Treadwell was actually a bigger threat to the bears than anything else. He states that as a result of Treadwell’s familiarity with the bears they no longer became cautious of humans, this creating the potential scenarios for poaching or bear on human violence. Here we can see an example of when individual truth and objective truth collide.
Two philosophical texts which I believe talk about individual and objective truths are Descartes’ Second Meditation and Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”. In the Second Meditation Descartes confirms that he exists because of the fact that he can think and contemplate about it. He also states that the only things we can be sure about are the things that we know. This point of view advocates individual truth in that only an individual can really determine what is true in for them. Contrarily, Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” advocates objective truth. He imagines a cave where human beings are locked away and the only things that they can see are the shadows on the wall. The shadows are obviously made from the light that shines into the cave. He says that when the humans see the shadows and hear the echoes of sound from outside the cave, they mistakenly believe that the shadows they see are the actual objects. He then releases a man from the cave and shows that they instinctively go towards the light. In this allegory, the light is truth (well technically it is the good) and is always shining into the cave, which represents human ignorance/perception, regardless of the beliefs of the humans. Plato believes that there is solely the objective truth, and that humans have different understandings of it.
The difference in belief between Treadwell and the park ranger show the distinction between individual and objective truth. Treadwell believed that he was protecting the bears by doing what he did. That is his personal belief and for him what he did benefited the bears in some way. The park ranger, however, believes that Treadwell was ultimately a danger to the bears and also that he crossed a line that should not have been crossed. I am unsure of Treadwell’s scientific knowledge of bears, and so I would say that he represents truth in the individual sense. He was ignorant in his understanding of bears, and that may be evident in the way that he died. The park ranger is probably more representative of objective truth in that he probably has some knowledge in the way bears act. The reverse of this is also possible in that maybe Treadwell understood bears more than anyone else because he lived with them, and just as the man who comes from the light is not honored by the cave dwellers, Treadwell’s observation of bear behavior is not considered much because of the perceptions we already have.