Global Studies 2A:Comparative Political and Religious Systems
Saturday, October 18, 2003
-maybe your true chains are something else?
just out of curiosity, have you ever wondered how you were going to break free from this "baggage" that you have? I know for myself that I am also held back from this baggage that you talk about, but I always thought that I would never be able to free myself from it. You say how it keeps you from gaining a "higher degree of thinking," but maybe it is keeping you from something else. Not thinking because obviously you are very intelligent and have a sense for many things. Maybe this baggage is a fear instead....like being wrong. I'm only saying this because I have found that my chains that keep me in this terrible cave is my fear of being incorrect for everything I do and say. I've often wondered how many times it would take me to gain self-confidence something that i really need, but i've realized no one can tell me anything i have to realize it for myself. now, it's not that i don't want to believe that i have this confidence it's that i'm scared of it....if that makes any sense at all.
maybe we will only be able to break through these chains once we leave and are on our own...somewhere we have to be independent and cannot rely on others to do, or say, things for us......
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
A child moves through the tunnel of the airport on a moving walkway towards Gate number 1. Suddenly, a circuit breaks, and the the moving walkway reverses direction. Pulling loads of baggage and attempting to move forward, the child stays in the same position and makes no progress. With possibly overly sensitive scrutiny of the terminal, the child sees that the gate lies within viewing distance. But independent of the amount of effort he puts in to progressive movement, the child stays in the same position. He envisions himself boarding the plane, then subsequently taking off. Climbing higher and higher, the child is finally immersed in his dream world; blissfully, a smile runs across the boy's face as his soul steadily rises. With the vision in mind, he tries even harder to move against the walkway, but due to this loss of energy, the force of the baggage keeps him from gaining progress.
I am this child. On my most recent struggles with the journey of life, my baggage has held me back from attaining a higher degree of thinking. While the previous allegory expresses my personal emotions concerning the power of my personal baggage to keep me from achieving my goal, Plato uses the allegory of the cave in book 7 to express the state of the commoner in society.
Plato presents the allegory of the cave in book 7 so that the reader questions his own life, and how the allegory applies to him. Plato envisions humans located in a long underground cave. He writes that:
"They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around. Their light is from a fire burning far above and behind them. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a road above, along which they see a wall, built like the partitions puppet-handlers set in front of the human beings and over which they show the puppets" (193, 514
Plato begs the reader to see that we are all stuck in our own caves. It can be inferred from the text that "the light" outside of the cave is "truth". Plato comments that all humans have chains that restrict them from being able to see the truth. The allegory of the cave, and the discussion that follows are both very complex and important. Yet, the chains that are keeping an individual from achieving success, as well as the cave that keeps the individual from basking in the light strike a personal note with me.
Through recent scrutiny of my life I have realized I have many chains keeping me from being able to reach a higher degree of thought, being able to live moment by moment, and being able to find peace within my soul. I think of the cave as the limitations and barriers placed on an individual while the chains are self-produced. In modern American society, we are living in a very competitive atmosphere.
Instead of most individuals simply basking in the sun or enjoying the wonder of air, society has told us that we must compete against each other to get the most amount of money we can possibly garner, which is the basis of capitalism. The society has also commanded that we must try to act like each other. Instead of expressing our individuality, society directs us to conform to the "norm." This competitive, individuality cleansing environment is due to the boundaries of the cave in conjunction with the methods of other individuals in our society. This is displayed by the men on top of the wall in the allegory who are fueling a fire within the cave. This fire represents the truth that they want you to know, rather than the actual truth, which one must escape the cave to find. But in order to escape the cave, and the artificial truth, one must first break the bonds.
As the boy in the airport, I feel like throughout my life I have carried baggage but was still able to walk against the moving walkway. Now, due to the increase of movement of the walkway and luggage, I can no longer move any further. I believe this baggage is self-inflicted such as time management issues, procrastination, as well as organization in general. These bonds keep me from achieving my goal of reaching a higher degree of education. As an adolescent contemplating my future, I tend to over analyze situations, and instead of relaxing, worry. This worriment has adverse effects including the desire to secure perfection. All of these chains, as well as the walkway, keep me from finding peace within myself and being able to seize the day. Now that I know the seat I want on the airplane, and know how to get there, I hope that my entrance into Vermont Commons will help me to leave the baggage behind, and confidently move against the force of the walkway, possibly not at a rapid pace, but board the aircraft all the same.
I refuse to be further sucked into the cave.
If this paper is not an "A" of strong "B" then I PASS
So quick and so fast
The allegory of the cave in Plato shows that people our trapped to see in only one viewpoint, and not everything they see is correct. Because they canâ€™t see the whole picture, they canâ€™t see the way some things really are. When they get out of the cave, they get very confused, they donâ€™t know what they are seeing, but after a while of living out of the cave they see the way things are really supposed to be.
I think that the cave represents our society, and the society that most of the people in the world are living now. We are all trapped in this society and we can really only see one way, but since we have been in the cave for a very long time, we really canâ€™t remember what it was like to not be living in the cave, so we assume that this is the way humans are meant to live. Our chains could be our culture, because every moment of every day it is telling us what to think and how to act, and the right way to live. Our society is basically our culture. Unless we start to think for ourselves, instead of what our culture tells us, then we are always going to be chained in the cave. The thing is that most people probably donâ€™t want to leave the cave, like in Plato, because that is all we have ever know, we think that all that exists is what we can see, or that we can prove is there. Also our culture tells us all the time that we are living the right way, this is the humans were meant to live, have always been meant to live. And this idea is reinforced for us all the time, religions reinforce it, TV does, but especially the success we see in our live reinforces it. This is the way humans are supposed to live, because look at us, look at all the things we have, the money, the power, the gadgets, the technology. Humans were made to be this advanced, thatâ€™s why we alone, out of all the animals on the planet, have the power to control everything, resources, other people, animals, even life and death, that we do. So it seems like weâ€™re gaining from this so why would we want to live, our cave looks really nice to most all of us with money, and people with money are the ones with the power, and the people with power are the ones who reinforce the chains all the time. It is like we all live in different caves, and the ones with money have really nice caves, with all the things they want in them, and we spend all our time wanting to get really nice caves. We focus on getting better caves instead of getting out of the cave all together.
The problem is that in order to get out and see the light, people have to want to. In Plato there are people who were dragged out of the cave by others, implying that not everyone is in the cave. But now people get to choose whether they want to try to get out or not. The chains that are keeping the peopleâ€™s heads facing forward in Plato, in our society, is that we really donâ€™t want to see the truth so we almost willingly keep our heads facing forward, we donâ€™t even need those chains. Because there are people who see the chains, and see the cave, and want to get out of it. But itâ€™s hard to be successful. Also the problem is that getting out of the cave by yourself, is probably not going to have much of a point, if you could even do it. Because if society is the cave we are living in a world where we are always surrounded by society. If something happens in the cave it effects the people outside as well. For example letâ€™s say that the people inside the cave have done something that caused a flood, and the water rises and rises and eventually the people in the cave drown because they are chained to the cave and canâ€™t get out. But even once they are dead the water just keeps on rising, and eventually it spills out the mouth of the cave, to where the people who have escaped live. And even though they didnâ€™t cause the flood, it just keeps rising and rising until it kills them too. They have a longer chance to live because they arenâ€™t chained to the ground so they can run away from the water for awhile, but in reality they are chained, they are chained to the earth and they canâ€™t leave it, so eventually the water catches up to them, and drowns them. There is nowhere they can go that canâ€™t be affected by the people in the cave.
Thatâ€™s the problem we are facing now, sure some of us can see the cave, maybe some of even know how to get out, and we are sharing this knowledge with the other people around us, through books, TV, music, all the kinds of things people are likely to listen to. But it doesnâ€™t do any good because there is nowhere we can go that isnâ€™t a part of the cave. The problem people are facing no is that we canâ€™t get out of the cave, and in order to live without it now, weâ€™d have to get rid of it completely.
Allegory Of The Cave by: Rachel Smith
In Book 7, Plato presents to us the Allegory Of The Cave. An Allegory is a
story that has a symbolic meaning hidden within it. In the story Socrates tells
about the caveman, truth, reality, and light. These tie together to prove
the point of the different educational effects there are on humans, and how
education is meant to drag people out of this “cave” as far as possible to then
learn, and thus teach others the Form of the Good. The hopeful goal of the
city is to have educated people think more about the Form Of The Good, therefore
turning towards it in the future. The caveman in the story hasn’t yet grasped
the meaning of reality until he sees the sun, where he knows the sun is
responsible for everything he sees, and the Form of the Good. Socrates quotes “ If
he compelled him to look at the light itself, would his eyes hurt and would
be flee, turning away to those things that he is able to make out and hold them
to be really clearer that what is being shown?” (P 515 e)
Socrates then reminds us again “That it’s not the concern of law that
any one class in the city fare exceptionally well, but it contrives to bring
this about in the city as a whole, harmonizing the citizens by persuasion and
compulsion,” (P 519 e) The philosopher-kings are different from anyone else
because he knows exactly what the Form Of the Good is, and understands all. And in
order to know “All” they must study math and philosophical dialectic. Math
prepares the ruler, and dialectic is the ultimate form of study. Socrates then
describes how to choose the next philosopher kings. Children are the first
step. You must find kids who are hard working, stable, and learn subjects like
math (geometry, calculus) very easily. They are then picked over the years
based on their performance. After 5 years of dialectic, they go back into this
“Cave” to gain experience. Socrates then ends the book explaining that it’s
a better idea to go into a existing city, take away every person older than 10
and raise the kids to all be philosopher kings. Socrates quotes “and taking
over their children, they will rear them-far away from those dispositions they
not have from their parents- in their own manners and laws that are such as
we described before. With the city and the regime of which we were speaking
thus established most quickly and easily, it will itself be happy and most
profit the nation in which it comes to be.” (P 540 a)
Since Allegory means a symbolic meaning within a story, I find a
contemporary method to be similar. The method and teaching of Suzuki. The Suzuki
method is a highly successful way to teach violin instruction, and other musical
instruments. In the cave Allegory, the man at first cannot put a full grasp
on reality. He is confused that there is a greater reality than just the
shadows. Reality to a young Suzuki student on their violin is the thought of
everything happening right then in the moment. If the activity is fun, then they
are having fun, and this is their reality. For the musical parents, it’s
different. They see the future of their kids music career, and not what’s
happening to the success of their kid that day. A metaphor that Dr. Suzuki uses while
teaching violin is “If such a monumental task can be accomplished by a two to three-year-old child, anything is possible. Suzuki believes that the most efficient way to learn music is to expose children to it at an early age. Like Socrates, Dr. Suzuki believed society can only grow stronger and be more beneficial if the children at an early age get off to the right start. He believes that the fastest way to learn an instrument is the same way you learn your own language, by listening, absorbing and imitating. With the Suzuki method you feel such emotion by hearing a 5 year old play a 20 min. concerto, thus Suzuki quoting once “Perhaps this is music that will save the world!” To be successful right away with this method you must have a willingness from the child to begin to learn an instrument, and must make the early lessons as fun and lively as possible. In 1971 a woman named Susan Grilli wanted to prevent kids from coming home and saying that they hated school but loved the violin. She was involved with the Suzuki method and wanted to try and find a way to tie Suzuki lessons into every day school. She finally got her chance by teaching Kindergarten, and using this “Suzuki Feeling” within the curriculum. She found that Dr. Suzuki’s ideas tied in nicely with science, math, and language. Dr.Suzuki felt that more important than philosophy or method is the spirit of Suzuki teaching; the inspiration, creativity, and imagination of the teacher. Unlike Plato’s way of training the guardians, Suzuki believes that the child
will be taught when he is ready to learn, and ready for instruction. However, it is up to the child as to how much he is ready to learn. Only through an experience of trying something amazing can a child become creative inside himself.
A Suzuki teacher must be prepared for the needs of the child and be able to switch “plans” if they require new ones. The point of the Suzuki method and
“school” is to build memory, thus asking all Suzuki students to listen to their tapes over and over again. The music reading instruction comes later. It is also to build concentration and self esteem. In learning, we use games and observations that are important on our “building” level. Like Philosophy and Plato, Suzuki never has the right answer. We don’t use something that works every time while we teach. Suzuki relies on showing more than explaining. In this teaching you must gain a developing relationship between the child and the teacher.
Suzuki’s philosophy believes that each child has a infinite potential, and NOT that “some children” are born with “special gifts.” He believes that teaching children music at an early age will create a spiritual and growth experience to benefit for them later on in life.
Reflection Paper 7
Global Studies 2A
What is the allegory of the cave? To best define this, we must use contemporary examples. We must do this because we are trapped in caves. Most people are trapped so that they can’t look at the world, real or idealistically, in more than one way. This is possibly why Skiffertson is giving us this paper.
“Next, then,” I said, “make an image of our nature in its education and want of education, likening it to a condition of the following kind. See human beings as though they were in an underground cave like dwelling with its entrance, a long one, open to the light across the whole width of the cave. They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around.” (The Republic of Plato, By Plato, 514a, page 193).
When we look at the world today, or from any other time period, there is no way that anyone could possibly be free from this idea of the allegory of the cave. If we were, than I probably wouldn’t be writing this paper, and Rob probably wouldn’t have assigned it. School is a system that we are all born into. When were three years old, we don’t read Plato, and we don’t have enough commons sense to get anything from it. School provides the kind of education that will lead us into another system. The above quote shows this.
Anyone who drops out of school doesn’t usually do it because they realize that they are trapped. But if there was someone who did, they wouldn’t be viewed as smart or courageous. They would be viewed as stupid or crazy. But what we view has stupid, smart, sane, and crazy is probably not what it really is. It is what were told it is. Our society and culture tells us this. We are trapped a cave in this way as well.
When we look at any aspect of our culture, we are burrowing deeper into yet another cave. If you watch MTV and care about J-lo and Ben, you are blinding yourself from what is important. I don’t want it to seem like a big conspiracy or anything, but with our culture today, it will. MTV most likely doesn’t want to brain wash us, but the people who work there are in caves of there own and want to make more money.
If you look at episode 7F03, you see an entire episode of how important school is to our society. Bart gets an F on a history test. He is told that if he gets an F on his next test, he will have to stay back a year. So he says that he will help Martin be cool in exchange for help. Martin of coarse is also in a hole for conforming to the school system and being a good student and conforming with our culture in wanting to be cool. In the end, Martin and Bart just play video games. So Bart wishes for a day off to study. He fails this test to, but says some historic fact in class to raise his grade to a D minus.
In conclusion, the Allegory of the cave is our society and culture today. Where all trapped in many caves and there is no way out. The only way to possibly escape this fate is through death.
Mission: Contemporize the Allegory of the Cave
Gregg Burette is a twenty-year-old male attends a prestigious college and succeeds in the world. Burette has always done well; he excelled in all of the prescribed courses and hung out as one of the guys. He did well in sports and chilled hard with everyone else he knew, he never thought to question anything such as the meaning of life or anything else within its realm.
In Gregg’s past, he attended a school that practices early philosophy and received parts of education for becoming an independent philosopher. At age eleven Gregg decided he wanted to switch to the public school system in order to be able to participate in sports. When Burette entered the public system, he experienced a huge clash in morals and behaviors from the original school he had attended, the issue of people being mean to each other had risen, competition because no one had really acquired a real sense of individuality, and people all having a sense of homogeneity. Ever since then he had been a part of the public school system which extended through high school where he ate up any garbage thrown at him just like any other human being.
During the summer after completing two years of college, Gregg became very ill and lost twenty pounds in one month, and then later lost another twenty. He attempted to survive college, but after a week it was painfully apparent that college was out of the question for the moment, he could not continue in the, “game” anymore. The game being his daily rituals at college, of superficial acts such as drinking comes along with being in a fraternity and such. When he arrived at home, he was immediately thrown in the hospital where they ran tests and tried to cure him with every drug on the market, but apparently all the drugs that usually work on patients with the same case did not work on him in particular causing them to want to take out his colon.
At this thought, Gregg stepped aside and said that he could not comply with this. So he left the hospital and began his search for an alternative, the truth. He had been done dealing with the conventionalism of medicines and thinking illusions that he had been fed and ate with a hungry mouth for all his life, he was on the prowl for the truth.
Through this search for the truth and alternative resources for finding his cure, Gregg began to appreciate and love learning about himself, his true essence, and his meaning of life, his true path. Gregg had begun to wake up and become conscious of the illusions that he had been ingesting for so much time, realizing and discovering truths and flaws in the illusions illuminated by the higher powers of the nation and world. Burette began to philosophize about the world, its beings, how things worked, ultimate truths, and what his path was, this was the start of his becoming of a philosopher. Through these experiences and philosophies, Gregg realized that all the stuff, being the illusions, and propaganda that he and others had been consuming really does not matter and that he needs to deal with what is and find ultimate truths in order to truly succeed as an individual.
“The finally I suppose he would already be in a position to conclude about it that his is the source of the season and the years, and is the steward of all things in the visible place, and is in a certain way the cause of all those things he and his companions had been seeing.” (516 b,c) In this quote Socrates is referring to the sun as the source of the ultimate truth and how once one finds it they are able to realize how things become confused in it and how illusions are illuminated from it of it. In other words, confusion dealing with illusions and how they are all based off of the truth but are skewed in differing degrees. Thus, Gregg has begun to see how his reality has been skewed by illusions and he has begun unraveling the puzzle of truths and philosophy.
Monday, October 13, 2003
Allegory of the Cave
Can we ever know the difference between what is true and the image of what we perceive to be true? It is an aspect of life that we must strive to understand to a different level, and search for. The truth is never something that we can grasp without effort, otherwise, it wouldn’t be the truth because in reality we must search for virtue. Truth does not come to us nor will it ever. We must comprehend the absolute meaning of truth by looking for it. However, if we are never aware of our misguided interpretations of the perceived truth we will never be able to understand the light, as Plato submits to. In some instances we are never aware that there is some real truth beyond the meanings that we are familiar and comfortable with. It is amazing to think that it could actually be possible to be living with images of truth and not the actual truth. During our whole lives, we possibly could have the perception of believing that our truths were real, but in fact they were dreams, figments of our imaginations. Living with hypothesis other than what is past them. What if our whole lives are these fabrications of shadows? What if we are the narrow-minded people who live in the cave of darkness as Plato describes? This is reality; we will never know what the truth actually is unless we step away from the darkness, the images, and realize that there is a truth we must venture for. Truth comes in staggered layers waiting to be unleashed. Furthermore, we will never live in a time when we will all know and recognize everything that is true, but we can strive everyday to reach that idle time when there is no cave. Until then we can never entirely step out of the dark and into the light.
Plato uses the allegory of the cave as a representation of the difference between the ones who live by images and believe they are it compared to the ones who know that the shadows are not the actual truth and that there is something more. The many who live in the cave and observe the images, the shadows of the real things, will by no means believe anything but what the imagery portrays. Why, because from childhood on that is all they know of. They stay throughout there whole lives with their heads bound to their seats, permanent places, in the cave. “They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them.” (514 a). They are incredibly narrow-minded, but nevertheless they don’t know any better because this is all they are given for knowledge, education. The people are never able to turn their heads in the direction of the opening to the outside world where the light comes from. They are never guided or told that there is something more than the shadows that appear on the wall. On the other hand, they are not incapable of learning the truth, “indicates that this power is in the soul of each,” (518 c) they are never shown the truth. Implicating that every man or woman is gifted to learn and understand because they each have in them the ability to progress in knowledge and truth. However, Plato explains with the allegory of the cave that there are some who are capable and some who are not of exceeding and finding truth on their own. They are represented by the ones that break free from darkness and step into the “light,” the source of truth. To break free from the cave is not the least bit simple. What makes it this way; why can’t the one’s bound to the cave become “unleashed,” and step into the light of truth? If someone were told that their beliefs and knowledge in the cave was false, and truth lies outside their compounded area it would be impossible for them to understand. It would be very problematic to make that acceptance. That statement is a reflection of someone giving up everything they know and perceive to be the truth in order to take a chance in believing that what the truth really is lies beyond the cave. How can someone give up everything they base their world around just to believe someone else telling them that what they discern is false? Their education and knowledge that they were presented with is all they know. They were never given anything else, but their images. The people of the cave are inevitably living a life of lies because they have never seen the truth.
The people of the cave are all prisoners; nevertheless they do not believe that this is true because to them this is their life. Nothing else exists outside their world. To them, someone who believes that the images are false and that the true meaning lies elsewhere would be ridiculed because to them this statement is a mockery. To the people of the cave, their beliefs do not lie in another place. Except, they do not realize they are wrong; in their whole lives they see injustice false truths. Moreover, the sad fate is that they will never know that what they accept as true, is immoral. Someone looking in on the cave from the light would never want to go back into darkness. They know that in there, the cave, life does not exist; the cave is a barrier that keeps you from exploring. In some aspects the cave can be resembled as a system of education that is structured to design the populace to believe and acknowledge certain edicts. Once developed, the masses will not be able to break free because they are blinded by their own thinking and truths. Yet, there is still that possible way of being rescued and brought towards the sun; the source of knowledge and virtue.
Guidance is what one needs in order to become free from falsehood. With out that adviser, one wouldn’t be able to handle the light, and would turn back towards the images of the darkness. If a person were on their own, not being guided by a person who understood the light, and looked towards the exit of the cave they would not be able to withstand what they were seeing. They would not be able to appreciate the light because to them it would not be real. “To turn his neck around, to walk and look up toward the light; and who, moreover, in doing all this is in pain and, because he is dazzled, is unable to make out those things whose shadows he saw before.” (515 d). He wouldn’t want to believe anything that he saw, even if someone were to tell him that he sees better now because he is peering out into the truth. To him, he would want to turn back and head towards the cave. If this person were guided correctly though, through experience in the light, he would appreciate the true things that he would learn. “Then finally I suppose he would be able to make out the sun—not its appearances in water or some alien place, but the sun itself by itself in its own region…” (516 b). Furthermore, later on in life he would be able to apply his true knowledge to future experiences and searches. He wouldn’t be stuck in darkness and misguiding in life. With the truth, one would be competent. He wouldn’t be living in the same cave all the time. Instead, he could exceed and better himself. To advance in life, and continue to search for the true meanings, just signifies the closer you are to the end of your cave. One would be closer to the door of light, the unconditional reality.
In life we all create these caves for ourselves. Sometimes we know that we live in our own worlds. Nonetheless, other times we are so blinded by these barriers that we might be in the same position as the community in the cave. Never wanting to believe what is further than the obscurity.
Love, a world on its own, is a perfect example of a dark cave where we never see the truth, only the lust, the images. When one person for the first time in their lives falls head over heels for their other half, they generate this wall, which blocks them from the knowledge of their relationship. They wouldn’t want to believe, or rather couldn’t believe that anything could ever go wrong in their lives. Love is all their answers to life; it’s their image that is keeping them from the truth. They can’t look past it because it’s all they want to believe. A first time relationship where one experiences love is the biggest cave one can spawn for themselves. Their focus is on their lust, not the latter. However, because this occurs and one cannot look past their yearns, they miss what is important in their bond. They neglect to look at who their partner really is, or whether or not their connection is actually valuable. One might be ignoring the most essential aspects to their love for one another because they are so fixated on their emotions and “first feelings,” rather than what is really happening; the truth of one’s relationship.
One ignores many obvious things about their partner because they are in their cave filled with emotions that they distinguish to be the truth. Except that moment through experience and “guidance” does come in a relationship where one starts to realize the real truth behind their feelings. Eventually, either through mishaps in a relationship, which will inevitable happen, or time, one will realizes and recognize some things about their spouse and connection. These calamities are what guide the person out of their own “love cave,” and into the light so they can see what their partner and relationship are truly pertaining to. Once shown the light in this situation, one will never be able to forget their naiveté. They now know they must look farther than the lust in a true affiliation. Therefore, they will use their knowledge for their next love, and continue to learn from their mistakes in relationships in applying it to new ones. As this continues they step closer and closer to the door, which leads to true light.
We are always in a cave because it is impossible to meet pure perfection and truth. As time and our knowledge increases we will have a better understanding of the truth. However, the cave is unavoidable because we only know and feel what we know to be the absolute truth in our reality. What if we all saw and perceived things to be different in our own minds? Does that conclude to be a reference for us to be living in our own caves?
When we discuss the Allegory of the cave we must decide what a contemporary example of the cave is. The main question we must ask ourselves is, what is the best form of the cave as described by Plato in real life?
In book VII of The Republic of Plato Socrates and Glaucon immediately start discussing the Allegory of the cave. In this cave there are many strange things going on. In this cave human beings are being kept chained to the walls at such an angle in which they can only see in front of them. “They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around.” (514a-b) Behind the prisoners of the cave there is a fire burning. And behind the fire there are many people walking to and fro carrying many artifacts. All the prisoners ever see is the shadows cast by these people. Plato’s argument is that if this is all they ever see than wont they believe that it is real. “Then most certainly such men would hold that the truth is nothing other than the passing shadow of artificial things.” (515c) However, later on in the book Socrates describes the freeing of one of the prisoners and how the prisoner slowly understands things for what they truly are. “And if someone dragged him away from there by force along the rough, steep, upward way and didn’t let him go before he had dragged him out into the light of the sun, wouldn’t he be distressed and annoyed at being so dragged?” (515e-516a) “Then I suppose he’d have to get accustomed, if he were going to see what’s up above. At first he’d most easily make out the shadows; and after that the phantoms of the human beings and the other things in water; and, later, the things themselves. And from there he could turn to beholding the things in heaven and heaven itself, more easily at night-looking at the light of the stars and the moon-than by day-looking at the sun and sunlight.” (516a-b) This best describes what happens to the man as he exits the cave, and how slowly but surely he starts to see things for what they really are. There are many real world examples of things that happen to make people see things for what they are.
One contemporary example is when a young person needs glasses but doesn’t know it. When I was young I needed glasses however I didn’t know that I needed them. So I grew up thinking that all of the blurriness in my life was in fact what things should look like. When the eye doctor put on my glasses for the first time everything became clearer to me and, I was amazed at my vision. This relates to Plato because it is kind of like when the prisoner is released from the cave for the first time. They start out blinded but they slowly become adjusted to the light. This also relates to another part in book VII when the prisoner is brought back into the cave and stumbles around in the dark. “Now reflect on this to. If such a man were to come down again and sit in the same seat, on coming suddenly from the sun wouldn’t his eyes get infected with darkness?” (516e) This relates to me because when I take my glasses off or my contacts out, my eyes are infected with darkness. At long distances I can no longer make out shapes for what they truly are. I have to physically move my body to see what they are. If I had been restricted all my life to see only the things that are in front of me then I would believe those things to be true.
Another contemporary example is public school. In public school they restrain you in order to make you think in one way. By doing this they obscure your vision from the truth. That is, that there is more than one-way to think in this world, and you don’t have to fallow by example. For me public school was not the right fit and I was led out of the cave by the allure of a better way to think.
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Johnny: You bring up an excellent point, being that, 'Why be good and work to earn something, when you can just snatch it without any work at all.' Suprisingly this seems very sensible to many of the majority of states, even if they do practice thievery or not, but would you say if one were to provide insight from another angle? Being, doesn't it take work to become a thief? One does not simply make a living off stealing from others, it requires intelligence and mucho effort. Why wouldn' t such an individual apply their efforts towards making their living the just and honest way? Why do people insist on committing crimes? Is it out of hate? Rebellion? The thrill? What, what, what? Tell me wise teacher of the lands... Where art thou answers? Why do people do these things? Are they blind because of failures in the past in attempting to succeed the correct way?? Or what? I beg for a response johnny...
*p.s. no funny business