Allegory of the Cave Essay
Allegory of the Cave
The allegory of The Cave is an attempt to show that what we are seeing are reflections, abstractions, and illusions. What we have believed in are not the real thing and never have been, but because we’ve acknowledged them for so long, it’s hard for us to accept it in any other way. Plato’s allegory of The Cave is a symbol for the contrasts between ideas and what we perceive as reality. Plato argues that we are the “cave slaves.” We live in a world of shadows, where we don’t see the reality of ideas. However, it is possible to climb out of the cave, to be released from our shackles, but the process is painful. When the “cave slaves” climb from the cave and we see the world for how it should be, we see that ideas are eternal and perfect even though the physical world crumbles.
It is easiest to see it in modern day metaphors through various films. There are two modern day examples of Plato’s cave allegory that jump to my mind. The first example is “The Wizard of Oz”. When Dorothy went to go see Oz, it is only through having the curtain pulled back that we see things for what they really are. The second modern day example is “The Matrix.” In the Matrix, it is only through being ‘unplugged’ that one can realize what is the matrix and what is reality. The matrix is a created visualization of reality that we see, but we don’t realize that it is just an interpretation of the computer data shown to us. It is a virtual image cast on the wall of our minds. It’s all we’ve ever known, and so real that we don’t know that it isn’t reality, that there something outside of our world, something beyond The Cave.
Another modern day example could be the government. People expect the government to look out for its people, but in reality, they have no such obligation. They are the most adaptable members of a society, more capable than others of controlling everybody else. If someone else came along who was better at it, they would take their place. There is in fact no inherent obligation for anybody to look out for anyone else, not government to its people, not parents to children. Ideas like these go against the grain of most cultures though, of course, so they are rarely fully accepted. That’s partly what the allegory was trying to show, that we as people are blinded by convention. The truth matters less than what is accepted.
Many experts regard Plato as the first writer of political philosophy, and Aristotle is recognized as the first political scientist. These two men were great thinkers. They each had ideas of how to improve existing societies during their individual lifetimes. Plato and Aristotle view knowledge and the process whereby it is obtained. They both point out that many epistemological concepts, which they believe where knowledge comes from and what it is actually. Plato and Aristotle have similar and different metaphysical views. Plato versus Aristotle, they are two philosophers that come from the 4th century, hold similar views on politics and philosophy in general. Plato is portrayed looking up to the higher forms where Aristotle is pointing down because he supports the natural sciences.
The world views of Plato and Aristotle are strikingly diverse. Plato’s metaphysics for example divides the world into the everyday perception of the world and into forms. Similar to Plato’s beliefs, Aristotle also believes in forms. However, Aristotle does not contrive that these forms simply ‘float in space.’ On the contrary, Aristotle thinks that these forms exist inside of objects themselves. A major difference between the two philosophers is also seen in how the two philosophers determine what is true and what is not. Aristotle believes only what he has seen and knows to be true, whereas Plato is more likely to believe what he reasons to be true. Therefore, Aristotle would be more inclined than Plato to use scientific method to prove truths physically, before stating them as true. But, Plato would use common sense and intuition to determine if something is true or not. Reason is not the same as actually seeing and therefore Aristotle and Plato disagree their methods of finding truth.
Plato and Aristotle alike were two men who had ideas on ways to improve existing society. Differences between Plato and Aristotle’s theories outweigh the similarities. However, both philosophers do leave holes and questions in their arguments. Both Plato and Aristotle based their theories on four widely accepted beliefs of the time; knowledge must be of what is real, the world experienced through the senses is what is real, knowledge must be of what is fixed and unchanging, the world experienced through the senses is not fixed and unchanging. These points led to a specific point of view, which both philosophers’ wished to target, as both agreed knowledge is possible.
In order to overcome this common contradiction in the argument it became necessary that each philosopher choose a point to disregard and prove to be unnecessary. Plato chose to reject the claim that the world experienced through the senses is what is real; while Aristotle rejected the claim that knowledge must be of what is fixed and unchanging. This presented problems to be over come by each philosopher: Plato had to give an account of where knowledge could be found while Aristotle had to account for how to have knowledge of that which is undergoing change. This is what leads to the philosophers’ overwhelming differences.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 6 January 2017
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