ancient philosophical influences

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  • Created on: 21-05-19 14:51
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  • Plato: The story of the Cave
    • Plato believed that there was a greater reality beyond the world we experience. He believed that a priori reasoning was the key to unlocking this reality
    • Plato uses the cave to sum up his key philosophical ideas. In the store he asks us to imagine a group of prisoners who are chained up in an underground cave. They have been there since birth and are chained up by their neck and ankles. They can only see the shadows projected onto a wall by fire. They believe that the shadows are all that exists. If one day a prisoner was released
    • Features of the story explained
      • Plato's story is allegorical and each of the features in the story has a symbolic meaning
      • The prisoners - ordinary people
      • The cave- The empirical world that we see and hear around us
      • The shadows- our everyday sense experiences
      • The escapee - the philosopher who is able to access knowledge
      • The difficult ascent - An illustration that the road to philosophical knowledge is hard
      • The outside world- The real world, world of the forms
      • The sun- The highest of all forms, the form of the good
      • The return to the cave- The philosopher once enlightened feels its his duty to free and educate others
      • The difficulty in adjusting to the darkness- Once a philosopher knows the truth, its difficult to experience things like an ordinary person does
      • The persecution given by the other prisoner- Like socrates, who was executed by the leaders in Athens, the philosopher will be ridiculed and threatened
    • The key messages of the cave
      • Metaphysics- What is real? Plato's view on metaphysics is that this world is not real and that the real world is an unchanging world of the forms
      • Epistemology- How do we gain knowledge? Plato's view is that knowledge is through the mind (a priori) not the senses. The senses only provide opinions and shadows.
      • Politics- Who should rule? The philosopher is the only one who has knowledge and, thus, philosophers should rule. Democracy puts power into the hands of the majority who lack knowledge, the cave dwellers in the story
      • Ethics- What is good? It is the philosopher who is able to see and understand the good: they know what goodness is
    • Assessing Platos'  ideas on the cave
      • It is not clear why it is important for the philosophers to rule if this is only a shadow world
      • Plato may be right to suggest that our senses are not always  reliable, however the information we get from our senses is not unimportant- we need it wo survive
      • Plato does not offer proof of the existence of another realm and he is unclear on how the world relate to each other.
      • He is guilty of elitism. The philosopher is not completely different from an ordinary person. While he may be correct to say there are differences in knowledge, these are differences in the degree of knowledge
      • Having two groups of people- those who know and those who don't is too simplistic


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