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Plato and The Allegory of the Cave

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rachel solway

on 1 April 2015

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Transcript of Plato and The Allegory of the Cave

Plato: The Allegory of the Cave
It was Plato who founded the first Western institute of knowledge in Athens, Greece. He called it the Academy.
Plato's unique perspectives and theories led to what is considered the groundwork of western philosophy.
Plato's
theory of the forms
concerning abstract objects created a school of thought called "platonism"
(427-347 BCE)
Socrates educated Plato in the school of thought of
Idealism
Idealism suggests that the mind plays an important role in objects of knowledge.
Plato lived in Athens during the classical greek period.
Plato, one of the greatest minds of philosophy, was a student of Socrates.
Plato believes that through his theory of the forms, things such as justice, virtue, and goodness can have a "form", through this metaphysical school of thought.
Plato wants to answer questions like, What is beauty?
What is justice?
Plato believes in the senses to gain knowledge of the material world
Plato believes in flux, meaning that our material world is in a constant state of change
Therefor, Plato concludes that the "real world" is not what we are living in.
In this world, everything has a perfect form
In his work, The Republic, Plato breaks down his theory of the forms in The Allegory of the Cave
Showcasing an individual that is not knowledgeable of the true "forms"
Four men have been chained by their necks in a cave since birth, unable to see anywhere but facing forward
Plato justifies the two worlds by stating there is in fact a hierarchy of
being
Indeed, the true form of the apple would be
appleness
. This is confidered the highest
form
Plato believes that to achieve the highest level of being it must be eternal and unchangeable.
Now, this allegory will take the course of
The Divided Line
Behind them is a fire, with men holding images against the light to cast shadows on the wall before them
The four men believe that what they are witnessing is real. The shadows are their reality.
The prisoners believe the sounds of the men behind them are the true sounds of the shadows
One of the men is freed. Able to turn his head to see the fire and shapes, the man can no longer see clearly what he is looking at
The man is then shown that the shadows which he presumed were his reality, are in fact deceptions of true forms
The man becomes coherent, and is forced out of the darkness of the cave
The man is dazzled by the sunlight, but slowly becomes acquainted with objects in the light such as reflections
He will then become familiar with objects, animals, and nature
Finally, he is able to see the stars and the sun. The man is then able to see how the sun is the beholder of all that is visible.
He would then understand that the sun creates the seasons, and is the main cause of all things in the material world
After his change from conjecture to belief, the man then remembers the cave. He mourns for the men still trapped without knowledge of truer forms conceived by the senses
In
The Republic
, the question is raised of which environment the man would prefer. The conclusion is that he would rather live in the world of belief with the sun, than to endure the opinions of those still in darkness
One final thought, is that if the freed man were to go back into the cave, the men in darkness would scoff at him for ruining his eyesight and would refuse to see the light
The allegory of the cave gives us insight into
the divided line
between the sensory world and the world of thought
The divided line has four sections, the first being shadows light and reflections the water. Point A to B
The second section is that of belief; having the ability to see objects, animals, and man made objects. Point B to C. This is not yet knowledge.
The third section ventures over into the realm of knowledge. Point C to D. Now, things such as mathematical shapes and imaginary images are conceivable.
The fourth section is the dialectic knowledge of the good. This is the final form. Point D to E. This degree of understanding is reasoned and ideal
Plato's teachings come with a specific goal in mind. The goal for Plato was
eudaimonia
. This can be defined by living at the highest level of prosperity through true knowledge of the mind.
The secret to living a fulfilled life, according to Plato, was to think deeper, know yourself, love wisely, and raise our children with care.
Think of the allegory of the gave as a road to enlightenment, where you can use your eyes to see reality for what it truly is.
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