The clarification regarding education of the soul reaching enlightenment and understanding the world of abstract reality is represented by Plato’s work. Plato was born into and aristocratic family around 427 B.C.E. Around the age of twenty he became an accomplice of socrates - a philosopher. He adopted his style and philosophy, which is believed to be the search for truth through questions and answers. After socrates death, Plato traveled to Sicily and Egypt to gain philosophical knowledge. He then began to write dramatic dialogues between his teacher socrates, and various other people, including himself. Plato demonstrates his basis of knowledge by questioning the world based on reasoning of the mind, and by using platonic dialogue to illustrate his beliefs and complex understandings.
Plato is considered a significant figure in the entire history of Western philosophy. The basis of his philosophy is a conception of reality, which includes two levels; the lower level which contains change and sensations that acquire a value from the higher level. The higher or formal level is the better and truly distinct level and therefore is the appropriate focus for our existence and our behavior. Plato’s writings teaches us about forms and ideas, knowledge, rhetoric, and the eternality of the soul. He believed that one has reached enlightenment when educated to the level of a philosopher. Understandings of Plato have went back and forth between dogmatism and skepticism. Dogmatism is the view of discrimination, people thought Plato had certain beliefs presented in his dialogue. Skepticism is the disbelief that Plato would have such beliefs written in his work, and that the purpose of his dialogues are to advise us not to discriminate. Within these dialogues are myths that conduct much of Plato’s philosophy allegorically.
Plato’s “The Allegory of The Cave” is a metaphorical portrayal of his abstract vision and his account of knowledge while discussing the understanding of the human mind. In the prison cave, the group of prisoners are restrained in a way that they can only see what is in front of them, which is a projection of the wall behind them that show images formed by the fire that is between them and the wall. These images show puppeteers walking around carrying objects made of stone, wood, and other objects. The trapped prisoners are only able to see the shadows of the objects and not the object itself. The prisoners would in every way accept that the truth is nothing other than the shadows of those artifacts. The cave is a world perceived by the eye, which produces “mind sight” and “bodily sight”. Prisoners in the cave are isolated and detached from the real world and can only see with their bodily eye. The minds eye can be activated when the prisoners enter the real world. Figuratively speaking, the cave is a material world filled with distorted images about reality. Plato describes the prisoner’s reality as the shadows projecting on the wall, but complete reality lies outside the walls of the cave. In his story, a prisoner is freed to discover what reality is outside the walls of the cave. His eyes needed to adjust and he had to gain all the forms of reality he was missing. As he made this discovery of a world he never new before, he goes back to the cave to tell the other prisoners about his exploration. The other prisoners ridiculed him and didn’t believe anything he had to say. The prisoners didn’t care to find enlightenment, they are fine living with the ignorance they were brought up upon. They don’t consider themselves to be trapped in a cave. This brings up the questions, how would I ever know if I am in a cave? How can I get free? Who can reach the truth, and how? If we cannot find out what true reality is, and we deny anyone who claims to know more about reality beyond the cave, how will we be able to access knowledge? The shadows on the wall...
Cited: Morris, T. F. "Plato 's Cave." South African Journal Of Philosophy 28.4 (2009): p415-432. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
Popkin, Richard, and Gerald A. Press. (1999). The Colombia History of Western Philosophy. New York: MJF Books.
Durant, Will. (1961). The Story of Philosophy. New York: Simon & Schuster.
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