“Education isn’t …. putting knowledge into souls that lack it, like putting sight into blind eyes…. The power to learn is present in everyone’s soul and …. the instrument with which each learns is like an eye that cannot be turned around from darkness to light without turning the whole body…. Education is the craft concerned with doing this very thing, this turning around, and with how the soul can most easily and effectively be made to do it….. Education takes for granted that sight is there but that it isn’t turned the right way or looking where it ought to look, and it tries to redirect it appropriately. [518c-518d]
This passage is from Plato, Republic VII, that talks about the education in particular. Plato emphasizes the description of education mainly of what it is and what it is not. In the first reading of this passage, you might experience getting confuse from the reality of what is education and the side of education not seen by man. At first, the reader might consider the viewpoints in this passage as unified to form a single thought or otherwise, to direct two different emphases in one unified thought. Singular thoughts perceiving contradictions and judgment may also arise.
The intrinsic factor revolving in this passage is the value embedded in the word education. During the times of famous philosophers, Socrates and Plato, wisdom is indeed as valuable as gold. The value of human intellect is far more than the value of a castle. That is how they give importance in achieving wisdom. Education is everything for them. There are various points that identify the meaning of Plato’s Education that is being addressed not only to Socrates but also to the reader itself. Analyzing the passage reveals two opposing ideas embedded in this Plato’s perspective.
Let us try to examine the passage, piece by piece. “Education takes for granted that sight is there…” In this part, Plato emphasizes two different terms particularly Education and Sight. Education is an important aspect in our society. According to the book, The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality, written by Wakefield (1983), the passage in Plato’s The Republic 518d reveals that an object of education is the moral-intellectual “turning of the soul. ” The Christians are using this passage in order to imbue justification in their religious belief of renewed life.
As for the Christians, they believe that acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ can renew your life provided you are willing and humble enough to confess all your sins. This belief requires education for you to be aware of such existence. As the term implies, education can cause “turning of the soul. ” Awareness is the fundamental gift that education brings to a person, hence revealing to the person the things he or she needs to know (p. 96). The term sight refers directly to what can the eyes perceive. It is the sensorial and physical perspective of what education is. As the saying implies, To see is to Believe. ”
The beginning of wisdom is not by seeing but by believing. The sight can only help you see what is physically present however, it does not reveal to you the principles, fundamentals and concepts that are indeed invisible to our eyes. Not everything is feasible to the eyes. The world may be present just the way it is seen by our naked eyes, however think of those things not yet revealed to us: those things that all the while we thought myths, stories and legends.
Are these things false, human imagination, or only made up by the playful minds of our ancestors? Or, truth? The contradicting concepts of sight and awareness through education collide in the case of material truth versus assuming truth. According to the passage, provides truth based on not only perceivable substances or materials but also those things that are unperceivable by any of our sensations. However, sight provides truth based on the material presence, actual existence and capacity to be perceived by the senses. This, however, is taken for granted by education. It pierces right into those things that are existing and reveals those things that are existing yet, not existing to the eyes.
But that it isn’t turned the right way…” The word “that” pertains to education and not the sight. Education in this viewpoint is being redirected, not by sight nor any other means indicated. There are no mentioned evident factors that facilitate the redirection of education. In fact, this is ironic in the first statement. As analyzed in the first statement, education brings forth awareness however; in the next parts, it becomes redirected. If this is the case, then confusion is now present. If logic is applied then this means education is bringing in a redirected awareness. This condition manifests in some points of our lives.
We thought that awareness brought by education is already the true and final awareness; however, in the end, we end up realizing that beliefs of ours are misconceptions. These are wrong beliefs that all the while we thought the right thing to follow. We move in this passage of redirected awareness. The next passage follows up, “Or looking where it ought to look …” In this phrase, the situation of education becomes quite changing. Education is likened to a person who can look back to the place that the person should be.
In this case, awareness occurs in awareness as education realizes its direction. Education produces realization and this realization helps awareness to be redirected” is a complete statement of Irony if logic is applied. There are evident situation in which this case manifests in our lives. These conditions are those things that we do yet, we realize that we are not supposed to do this. However, out of pressing circumstances, we are forced to do such action, and the only thing that we can do is to look back and think about the things that we are suppose to do. Education’s awareness does not always fulfill its purpose of deviating our way.
It helps us realize because we are aware but realizing is different from redirecting. In this phase, what we know is right. It is not anymore misconception because we know and we have justified its truth. The only problem is we do not put into action those things that we know. Lastly, “and it tries to redirect it appropriately…” It is the start of redirection. In this phase, truth, realization and decision making finally occurs. Education decides to bring about the reality of what is really happening and negating the influence of wrong directions. In the latter phases, first, truth is not present and other factors as well.
Second, truth is already present as well as realization however, redirection is not yet beginning. In this phase, it is the start of new life. Education really means “turning of the soul. ” The process that involves is very delicate and evident as well. The conditions in this phase occur in our lives. There are cases wherein we realize the truth of the situation, and then proceeds in the identification of those influencing factors that provided the wrong truth. After finding them, we analyze and provide solutions to correct this misconception source. The product of this correction, however, does not produce perfection of actions.
Misconception is corrected by the reality of truth. However, truth varies from people to people’s perception and opinion. This condition might place a person into bondage of so-called truth. Again, we can consider this as misconception, however another case occurs wherein we become aware of the truth yet we cannot escape the misconceptions entangling our mobility. If we identify these entangling factors and decide in ourselves to be free from these entrapments, then we are indeed moving, redirecting and becoming appropriate. Education in the passe shows a man’s cycle of being trapped from wrong truth and turning out from this trap.
This condition brings the ideal and right truths however, in the end it is still human beings. We hold our own lives. We hold our decisions. We hold our future. Awareness is their waiting to be heard and waiting to be perceived. Therefore, suffering from misconception is not always an excuse as well us ignorance, hence the saying “ignorance does not excuse any person from the law” is indeed true. It is our part to do the “turning of soul. ” Education is not everything. By having the right education and our actions joint together is considered the fulfillment of everything we ought to do. Plato is in the end is right about his passage.