According to Plato, in the allegory, the prisoners were chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave, which with shadows on it. Behind the prisoners, several people waving some object in front of the fire, casting shadows on the wall for the prisoners to see. The prisoners would spend their whole lives there, and therefore, it’s naturally for them to mistake the appearance of the reality. If somebody go the cave, unchain one of the prisoners, dragging him to the light, the prisoner would first feel uncomfortable about everything he see; but as time passed by, he look in retrospect, he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity his old fellow prisoners.
We always hear about others talking about the danger of a single story, I think Plato’s allegory reflect this idea pretty well. In the past, when transportation has not been globalized, the way we get to know about the other part of the world was nothing but very few descriptions about them. Therefore, deep in my mind, the first impression about America is gun-shooting, white tall guys and sex. These stereotypes were formed because we receive information solely in one approach. Another decent real-world example of the allegory is the reality of Chinese Internet. As we know, there actually two networks in the world: one is the Internet, which is shared by people almost all over the planet.
The other one is the “Chinese local Internet”. The primary reason for this is because the Chinese governments don’t want its citizens to look through the whole situation. Hence, in this case, it’s fair to liken Chinese citizens to the prisoners and Chinese officers to the people who waved the objects in front of the fire. Thus, what we see all kinds of media, including newspaper or Weibo or other social-networking are actually the shadows cast by the government. I think that the answers both for the ways we are like the people in the cave and why the world is somewhat illusory.
Q5: Socrates states unequivocally that Athens should compel the best and the most intelligent young men to be rulers of the state. Personally, I reckon that what Socrates stated is rational because as what Plato said in the Chapter: Neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education will be the ministers of the state. According to the Plato, the former should not be the ministers because they are not eligible, and they have no single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public;
Neither those who are over-educated, as they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already dwelling apart in the island of the blessed. And I think it is equally right to those who are the most suitable to their position, similar to the question above, if these people do not have the chance to go to those positions, it can be considered as a waste of human resources; Also, those people are the only who are competent of those jobs, say, a doctor always need a long-term training and lot of exam before he service to the public, so do other positions. Lao-tzu’s Tao-te Ching
Q1: what must the ruler provide the people with if they are to be happy? Actually, Lao-tzu has demonstrated his opinion very obviously and very strongly in the Verse 66: If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them, if you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them. The master is about the people, and no one feels oppressed. She goes ahead of the people, and no one feels manipulated. Here, in lao-tzu’s perspective, the masters should lead the society but rationally and kindly, they need to make the citizens who are within the society feel a strong sense of accomplishment and belonging.
Q4: Why does Lao-tzu think the world cannot be improved?
As the article state: The Maters sees things as they are, without trying to control them. She lets them go their way, and resides at the center of the circle. Actually, from the original episode (Chinese), lao-tzu reckoned that everything has its own way, and that no one, including the master, are able to change it. The statement that”the world can’t be improved” is much easier to be interpreted if we simply apply lao-tzu’s thought in it. In short, the world can’t be changed because it’s already there and it has its own way to run itself.
Once again, the statements illustrate the core philosophy of the Tao-te Ching, which is Lao-tzu’s advice to politicians that not to do nothing but to intercede only when it is a necessity and then only inconspicuously. Excerpts “the more….the less” in this question greatly reflect the Idea that things will develop in the opposite direction when they become extreme; in Lao-tzu’s perspective, what leaders should do is to maximize the enlightenment that can be given to the public rather than directly control them or organize the state.
Contemporarily, the first and the third statements (The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be; the more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be) might won people’s recognitions; whereas the second statement (The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be) might not. Consider the current global situation, where the possessing of nuclear weapons basically implies the entitlement of the world sovereignty, and no weapon may push the country to the precarious position.
Q5/ Mini Essay
Lao-Tzu, a philosopher of ancient China lived in the post Confucius era, best known as the author of the Tao-te Ching, contributing the fundamental philosophy to the later “Taoism”. However, the Tao-te Ching is more like a philosophical document that elucidate the responsibility, moral behavior of the government. At the very beginning of the section, Lao-tzu has emphasized the idea that what mostly the leader should do is to enlighten the public and leading and governing people in an unconscious state. This idea can be found throughout the whole passage, for instance: the master is above people, and no one feels oppressed. She goes ahead of people, and no one feels manipulated. The whole world is grateful to her, because she competes with no one, and no one can compete with her. From this excerpt, we can conclude Lao-tzu’s points that all leaders or the state to do is to help people better integrated into the society and possessing a grateful mood when doing their own job.
Compare to the modern world, the Lao-tzu’s perspective might seem unpractical, because it is not hard to imagine how chaotic the world will be if the government just stand outside the circle, watching the society govern itself. The people, on the other hand, should try their best to be obedient to the leaders and help the state runs in order, in Lao-tzu’s view. The idea of self-govern can be very essential under this condition, as the society would fall into chaos, even collapse, if the citizens of the state don’t contribute to state or circumscribe their behavior. Lao-tzu also shared his opinion on the usage of weapons: Weapons are the tools of fear; a decent man will avoid them except in the direst necessity and, if compelled, will use them, only with utmost restraint. We can see from the excerpt that Lao-tzu advocate a world of peace, believing that nobody will rejoice in war; even the man who wins the war will not be regarded as “attainment of glory”.
People, therefore, should obey the advocate of living in a peace world, picking up the weapons only when it is the direst necessity. In a large sense, the obligations for individual and for the leaders of the state are equally important. Consider this, which every state is actually constituted of the leadership level and people who need to participate; the great Roman Empire couldn’t be built if any one of the bricks was lacked. And therefore, any single aspect of effort paid that try to make the state runs well will ultimately die in vain. Only in a time when people serving their own duty consciously, and the eligible leader run the state properly, a nirvana can be reached.