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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 04:53 AM
Original message
Plato's Allegory of the Cave: Breaking the chains of intellectual bondage
Edited on Fri Jul-10-09 05:28 AM by armyowalgreens
We all fear the daylight.

It's a long read, but worth the time spent.

A diorama of "the cave"



{Socrates} And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
{Glaucon} I see.
{Socrates} And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
{Glaucon} You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
{Socrates} Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
{Glaucon} True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
{Socrates} And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
{Glaucon} Yes, he said.
{Socrates} And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
{Glaucon} Very true.
{Socrates} And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
{Glaucon} No question, he replied.
{Socrates} To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
{Glaucon} That is certain.
{Socrates} And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
{Glaucon} Far truer.
{Socrates} And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
{Glaucon} True, he now.
{Socrates} And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
{Glaucon} Not all in a moment, he said.
{Socrates} He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
{Glaucon} Certainly.
{Socrates} Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
{Glaucon} Certainly.
{Socrates} He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
{Glaucon} Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
{Socrates} And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the cave and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
{Glaucon} Certainly, he would.
{Socrates} And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,

Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,

and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?
{Glaucon} Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.
{Socrates} Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?
{Glaucon} To be sure, he said.
{Socrates} And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
{Glaucon} No question, he said.
{Socrates} This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
{Glaucon} I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.
{Socrates} Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.
{Glaucon} Yes, very natural.
{Socrates} And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, misbehaving himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavoring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice?
{Glaucon} Anything but surprising, he replied.
{Socrates} Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind's eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the cave.
{Glaucon} That, he said, is a very just distinction.
{Socrates} But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.
{Glaucon]} They undoubtedly say this, he replied.
{Socrates} Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.
{Glaucon} Very true.
{Socrates} And must there not be some art which will effect conversion in the easiest and quickest manner; not implanting the faculty of sight, for that exists already, but has been turned in the wrong direction, and is looking away from the truth?
{Glaucon} Yes, he said, such an art may be presumed.

{Socrates} And whereas the other so-called virtues of the soul seem to be akin to bodily qualities, for even when they are not originally innate they can be implanted later by habit and exercise, the of wisdom more than anything else contains a divine element which always remains, and by this conversion is rendered useful and profitable; or, on the other hand, hurtful and useless. Did you never observe the narrow intelligence flashing from the keen eye of a clever rogue --how eager he is, how clearly his paltry soul sees the way to his end; he is the reverse of blind, but his keen eyesight is forced into the service of evil, and he is mischievous in proportion to his cleverness.
{Glaucon} Very true, he said.
{Socrates} But what if there had been a circumcision of such natures in the days of their youth; and they had been severed from those sensual pleasures, such as eating and drinking, which, like leaden weights, were attached to them at their birth, and which drag them down and turn the vision of their souls upon the things that are below --if, I say, they had been released from these impediments and turned in the opposite direction, the very same faculty in them would have seen the truth as keenly as they see what their eyes are turned to now.
{Glaucon} Very likely.
{Socrates} Yes, I said; and there is another thing which is likely. or rather a necessary inference from what has preceded, that neither the uneducated and uninformed of the truth, nor yet those who never make an end of their education, will be able ministers of State; not the former, because they have no single aim of duty which is the rule of all their actions, private as well as public; nor the latter, because they will not act at all except upon compulsion, fancying that they are already dwelling apart in the islands of the blest.
{Glaucon} Very true, he replied.
{Socrates} Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all-they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.
{Glaucon} What do you mean?
{Socrates} I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the cave, and partake of their labors and honors, whether they are worth having or not.
{Glaucon} But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when they might have a better?
{Socrates} You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and therefore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.
{Glaucon} True, he said, I had forgotten.
{Socrates} Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toils of politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will, and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received. But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the cave, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State which is also yours will be a reality, and not a dream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States, in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.
{Glaucon} Quite true, he replied.
{Socrates} And will our pupils, when they hear this, refuse to take their turn at the toils of State, when they are allowed to spend the greater part of their time with one another in the heavenly light?
{Glaucon} Impossible, he answered; for they are just men, and the commands which we impose upon them are just; there can be no doubt that every one of them will take office as a stern necessity, and not after the fashion of our present rulers of State.
{Socrates} Yes, my friend, I said; and there lies the point. You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life. Whereas if they go to the administration of public affairs, poor and hungering after the' own private advantage, thinking that hence they are to snatch the chief good, order there can never be; for they will be fighting about office, and the civil and domestic broils which thus arise will be the ruin of the rulers themselves and of the whole State.
{Glaucon} Most true, he replied.
{Socrates} And the only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy. Do you know of any other?
{Glaucon} Indeed, I do not, he said.
{Socrates} And those who govern ought not to be lovers of the task? For, if they are, there will be rival lovers, and they will fight.
{Glaucon} No question.
{Socrates} Who then are those whom we shall compel to be guardians? Surely they will be the men who are wisest about affairs of State, and by whom the State is best administered, and who at the same time have other honors and another and a better life than that of politics?
{Glaucon} They are the men, and I will choose them, he replied.
{Socrates} And now shall we consider in what way such guardians will be produced, and how they are to be brought from darkness to light, -- as some are said to have ascended from the world below to the gods?
{Glaucon} By all means, he replied.
{Socrates} The process, I said, is not the turning over of an oyster-shell, but the turning round of a soul passing from a day which is little better than night to the true day of being, that is, the ascent from below, which we affirm to be true philosophy?
{Glaucon} Quite so.

http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/allegory.html
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:15 AM
Response to Original message
1. *sigh* Someone unrec'd this.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:18 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. good try.
Edited on Fri Jul-10-09 05:19 AM by Hannah Bell
but you see, this is a neighborhood in the cave.
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Horse with no Name Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 06:10 AM
Response to Reply #2
15. +1. n/t
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:32 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. I hate to tell you this,
but Phil 300 material is over the heads of most of the people who post here (for further evidence go look at the Religion and Theology group- you'll see people seriously using Pascal's Wager like they just thought it up.) You can't expect them to read that much material without mentioning some sort of celebrity gossip or overly simplified solution to a complex social problem. There's not even a call to action there, or a leading question to tell people what they were supposed to get out of what they read.

Posting provocative material and expecting people to discuss only works if they aren't distracted by something shiny.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:35 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. Whoa this is PHI 300 material? I'm not even a second year philosophy major yet.
I first read the allegory two years ago when I was a senior in high school. I read it again this last school year in my honors philosophy class. Which is still a 100 level class.

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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:42 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. Different schools use different numbering systems.
I'm used to 300 meaning an undergraduate introductory survey. Sorry if that was confusing if your school works on a different system. :)
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optimal-tomato Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:43 AM
Response to Reply #5
9. I read it in Intro to Philosophy.
My high school didn't have honors classes (or many classes beyond the basics for that matter).

I was lucky to only have to take two agri classes...
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tkmorris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:51 AM
Response to Reply #5
12. It's Philosophy 101 at best
Some high schools will touch upon Philosophy, and if they do Plato's Cave Allegory will come up inevitably. If they don't you'll see it in the first college Philosophy course you ever take. It's a bit like the Krebs cycle in Biology, the second you begin to study the subject, there it is.

Nonetheless I like it because it illustrates an issue that occurs all the time, i.e. not being able to directly observe an event, but rather being forced to observe only the second-hand effect of that event. This is a Philosophical conundrum that appears in everyday life quite often. Hell, it's how we discover extra-solar planets.
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BlooInBloo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 12:26 PM
Response to Reply #5
20. This is high school level. Or less, due to the picture.
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Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:36 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. I read it in public high school.
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LeftyMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:48 AM
Response to Reply #6
11. That's good.
I doubt many high schools do now, as I rather doubt Plato is a big part of any fill-in-the-bubble exam. The best the schools here might manage is to shoe-horn a few paragraphs on the classical philosophers into the Greece and Rome units of the incredibly surface level one year long world history class. If the allegory of the cave is in there at all, it will be as a disconnected "read more" kind of page that most students skip because it won't be on the test.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 06:10 AM
Response to Reply #11
16. I've got to admit that I didn't really understand the entire allegory until my second reading.
The second time I read it, my professor spent 6 hours with us deconstructing each part of the allegory. I have 10 pages of hand written notes. Which is probably longer than the actual story.
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conscious evolution Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:27 AM
Response to Original message
3. Step into the light
K&R
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optimal-tomato Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:37 AM
Response to Original message
7. Never cared for Plato.
But the allegory of the cave was a good one, in one sense, and bad in another.

As a thought experiment, it really sums up the way that the formulation of beliefs determines a person's worldview, and how powerful that worldview can be. Very good.

Inasmuch as Plato is proposing that the physical world is nothing but shadows of the ideal heavenly world, he's doing more damage than good. It's one thing when prisoners mistake shadows for reality. It's another for the prisoners to assume that they are seeing shadows without ever seeing any evidence for something other than those shadows.

meh.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:45 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. Reality is subjective. Therefore we can never assume that what we look at is truth.
Edited on Fri Jul-10-09 05:46 AM by armyowalgreens
"It's another for the prisoners to assume that they are seeing shadows without ever seeing any evidence for something other than those shadows."

He suggests no such thing. He simply states that we must question our own perceptions of reality.
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optimal-tomato Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:51 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. I got that.
But, maybe it's my fault for reading too much into it, I always saw the Allegory of the Cave as introductory material to get people to question the world of the senses (shadows), and open one's mind to concepts of a "real world" beyond our direct observation. Again, it's been my interpretation that Plato hoped that people would consider their perspective as permanent prisoners, but that we may gain insight from Plato and other "escaped prisoners" about the immaterial world of perfection beyond the material world. It's been a while, but I think it was referred to as the Realm of Forms.

You're absolutely right that he doesn't say this overtly in the Cave Allegory. It's just been my interpretation based on his other teachings.

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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #7
23. Your post is a perfect example of philosopical illiteracy. Plato is an IDEALIST as opposed to your
Materialist position.

And Materialism is no more or less valid than Idealism.

Materialism is NOT the de facto Philosophy of Science.
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optimal-tomato Donating Member (243 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. Your post is a perfect example of a strawman.
Edited on Fri Jul-10-09 01:06 PM by optimal-tomato
I said nothing about the Philosophy of Science. Maybe using the word evidence confused you, but there isn't any logical necessity for ideals, either.

Plato led the world to ponder reality rather than experiment with it, and (regardless of what you think about idealism v. materialism) it didn't work so well in adding to knowledge base of the Western world. I'm not a fan of Plato's ideas, nor the influence they've had on history. But I wasn't really making a philisophical argument against idealism, merely a practical one.

YMMV.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #25
30. Pondering reality lead to experimentation.
If one does not ponder reality, and is so firm in their knowledge of the world around them, why would they waste their time with other forms of science?

When we ponder reality, we stimulate a part of our mind that thirsts for knowledge.
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PfcHammer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 06:05 AM
Response to Original message
14. Reading is hard
:rofl:
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liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 06:19 AM
Response to Original message
17. I enjoyed studying Plato in college
Philosophy class engaged me, partly because the stoned professor said I would be the first one he flunked out because I laughed when he couldn't find the light switch. I became engaged to insure that he couldn't do that.

I made sure I was prepared before every class and truly became engaged in the reading. Most classes were dialog between me and the professor about the assigned reading.

I passed with an A and learned much more than I ever expected.
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 07:28 AM
Response to Original message
18. K&R
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Voice for Peace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 12:23 PM
Response to Original message
19. thanks! I am a huge fan
enjoyed re-reading, k/r
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skip fox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
21. But also "cretinous bondage," "religious bondage," "sports-talk bondage," "bonadge of the banal,"
etc.

One way of seeing the intellectual, if fact, is the person who tries to understand everything for him- or herself and to integrate the knowledge in such a way that he or she might see for him- or herself.

But in today's society (thanks in part to the mentality behind Fox News and Limbaugh, just like the mentality behind George Wallace) "intellectual" means inherited, elitist stupidity.
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abumbyanyothername Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 12:36 PM
Response to Original message
22. The Allegory of the Cave is not the best part of the Republic
I love the opening ... Socrates come talk with us . . . And if I refuse? . . .. We will use force. . . . .Is there not a better way? . . . What would that be? . . .. Persuasion. (Actually could be applied here in this cave also.)

I also love the whole explanation of why the Philosopher King, would is bound to rule not for self-benefit but for the benefit of the ruled would choose the lesser path of service. "To avoid being ruled by lesser than himself."

To me the allegory of the cave always felt a little condescending and smacked of elitism. Although I suppose the "To avoid being ruled by lesser than himself" is similarly vulnerable to the elitism charge.

Definitely the opening book of the Republic is worth a read for a grasp of the rules of civil discourse.
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
24. Here is another picture of Plato's Cave, or rather, a glyph that illustrates similar concept
Edited on Fri Jul-10-09 12:50 PM by KittyWampus
DU'ers who think they know what Tarot, Astrology and Qabala are about can look at the following and hopefully realize their understanding of esoteric philosophy is prejudiced and resting on shallow caricatures based on ignorance.

Ironically, the picture below can be summarized as an illustration of the Universal Principle of IGNORANCE, a state we all exist in on some level and on some subject. One of the keys to appreciating the subject matter is to take close attention to the chain around the humans' necks.

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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
26. Self-delete duplicate post on my part. n/t
Edited on Fri Jul-10-09 01:10 PM by Uncle Joe
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
27. I've only had time to read half of this, kicked for later reading.
Thanks for the thread, armyowalgreens.
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 03:47 PM
Response to Original message
28. Apparently Justinian sealed the cave with a rock.
"The son of a wealthy and noble family, Plato (427-347 B.C.) was preparing for a career in politics when the trial and eventual execution of Socrates (399 B.C.) changed the course of his life. He abandoned his political career and turned to philosophy, opening a school on the outskirts of Athens dedicated to the Socratic search for wisdom. Plato's school, then known as the Academy, was the first university in western history and operated from 387 B.C. until A.D. 529, when it was closed by Justinian."

It seems to me those actions by Justinian would later become an excellent validation for this exchange.

<snip>

{Socrates} Then, I said, the business of us who are the founders of the State will be to compel the best minds to attain that knowledge which we have already shown to be the greatest of all-they must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now.

{Glaucon} What do you mean?

{Socrates} I mean that they remain in the upper world: but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the cave, and partake of their labors and honors, whether they are worth having or not.

{Glaucon} But is not this unjust? he said; ought we to give them a worse life, when they might have a better?

{Socrates} You have again forgotten, my friend, I said, the intention of the legislator, who did not aim at making any one class in the State happy above the rest; the happiness was to be in the whole State, and he held the citizens together by persuasion and necessity, making them benefactors of the State, and therefore benefactors of one another; to this end he created them, not to please themselves, but to be his instruments in binding up the State.

<snip>

I believe Rome had long forgotten that lesson and the corrupted puppeteers of the day recognized the potential threat that enlightenment posed to self-serving power and didn't want interference with their show. We haven't closed universities yet but to some extent intellectuals have been demonized and controversial scientific information regarding the well being of society censored or curtailed.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. The label "elitist" comes to mind...
My family has called me that more times than I can remember. Simply because I question their own conservative views.
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 04:40 PM
Response to Reply #29
31. That's the word I was thinking of and the problem with being
an intellectual elite insures, that you will most certainly be in the minority on many issues.

Maybe that's the hidden lesson behind the myth of Cassandra, she could see the future but no one believed her.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 04:57 PM
Response to Reply #31
33. That's why never agree with a majority opinion simply because it's a majority.
Validation does not come in population size. It comes from truth.

I think elitist is a proper label. But for some reason, the ignorant think it's an offensive term.
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #33
36. I believe that's because the puppeteers controlling our modern day shadows want it to be.
If nothing else the puppeteers have mastered the art of distraction and they know people love to remain in their comfort zones.
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Mrs. Overall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 04:57 PM
Response to Reply #29
32. My family calls me that as well.
I am the only one to have gone to college and I pay dearly for it at family gatherings. The majority of them are Republicans.

I studied philosophy and theology in graduate school. I loved studying both Plato and Aristotle, not just because of their different views regarding reality, but how they reflected the social/political climate of the Greek world at that time.

The Cave Allegory is one of my favorite sections in The Republic and I also like the section on the Philosopher King (I am attracted to the idea of the interplay between action and contemplation, and living a life that balances them). However, as a writer, I was always disturbed by how poorly he treats poets in The Republic. If you recall, he actually banishes poets at the conclusion of the work, citing that poetry appeals to the lowest elements of the soul and brings about indulgent emotions. I always found that odd.

Good for you for posting this! It makes me want to grab my yellowed copy of The Republic and reread it. I recently reread Aristophanes' The Clouds. It's a quick read and is absolutely hilarious and naughty (lots of gas and farting)--great social and political commentary that is relevant even in our current day.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 04:58 PM
Response to Reply #32
34. Have you read Plato's Symposium?
That is also a good, short read.
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Mrs. Overall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:11 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. Ah yes, The Symposium. My household is so nerdy/geeky that we have a cornsnake
named after one of the characters in The Symposium--Phaedrus. It's just the perfect name for a sweet, little snake.

I ought to reread it. I can't recall a lot of detail, just that it deals with a discussion about love and wisdom, and that Aristophanes gives a speech in it as well as Socrates.

This thread makes me want to be in school again...
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #35
37. There's a lot of homoerotic themes in Symposium...
There were about 20 people in my philosophy class and maybe 3 of them, including myself, were liberal. So most of the class was really awkward and uncomfortable during the reading. Especially when Alcibiades comes in begging to get with Socrates.

I liked it though. It had a lot of wit.
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armyowalgreens Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-10-09 06:08 PM
Response to Original message
38. Bump
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