Aristotle and Plato - Everything you need to know

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An allegory is a story that has deeper or hidden meanings. Representative of real events and world views that
Plato wanted to express.. It is metaphoric, similar in nature to a parable, like Jesus would have taught. Images in
the allegory carry symbolic meaning. Found in Plato's book `The Republic'.
Plato's teacher and idol (one of the first philosophers) Socrates was executed for his unconventional
beliefs and methods of spreading his knowledge.
Wants people to open their minds and see beyond the world around them
Escapee = how Socrates viewed by public.
Absolutist ­ Uses the analogy of the cave to distinguish between 2 realms of reality, realm of forms and
realm of appearance.
Rationalist - he believed that knowledge could only come through theory, not experience (A Priori
"The allegory is set in a cave with prisoners, from birth being chained, fixed, staring at the wall. Upon the wall
shadows are cast from the puppeteers behind the prisoners. The prisoners cannot see the puppeteers, not the
large fire that is used to project the light to create the illusions on the wall of the cave. The prisoners' entire
world is what they make of these shadows and the games they play. They are conditioned and led by the
puppeteers who will manipulate their lives.
Plato raises the question of what would happen `if they are disabused of their error', that is their chains are cut
and free to turn and to see where the shadows come from. Many would want to be re-chained due to their
desire to remain in that which is familiar. It is the philosopher, who will have the strength and courage to make
the journey into the `unknown'!
The main source of light in the cave is cast by the great fire, however, there is a secondary source that is difficult
to find, but it is the passage out of the cave (the ascent), into the greatest light of them all ­ the Sun. It is with
difficulty that the one making the journey will have when adjusting their eyes to the brilliance of the new light. It
will take time to get accustomed to it. It is here that they exist in perfect, full knowledge ­ the World of Forms,
as opposed to the dimly lit world of the prisoners in the World of Appearances.
One will wish to stay in the World of Forms but will be forced back into the World of Appearances (the descent).
This will be as equally difficult and will also take time to adjust to the darkness. However, when they return they
will be full of wisdom and see things quite differently to the chained prisoners. They will wish to disabuse them
of their error, however they will not understand and will wish to kill the one who has been enlightened, so the
philosopher will have to `play their games more artfully', that is, join with them, not let them know
(disingenuous)but virtuously lead them to a better way of life. This is why Plato argued that the true leaders of
this world should be the virtuous philosopher."

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Main points gained from the analogy...
1. Our empirical knowledge, gained from senses, is flawed and is not showing us reality. Appearances are
2. After the philosopher emerges into the real world, his reasoning leads him to philosophical
understanding of the truth. (A Priori)
3. The escapee has some sort of realisation that the forms are true reality. He has true knowledge, like a
4. Plato points out a need to distinguish between the two realms.…read more

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Heraclitus, a Greek Philosopher developed a doctrine of change believing this was central to the universe
"Nothing endured but change"
Plato was a dualist ­ he was a believer in two realities, separate from each other. He believed in a Realm of
Forms (reality), an intelligible, logical world beyond the senses, a world of true knowledge based on thought and
reason. He then believed in the Realm of Particulars (appearance), a visible world of subjective senses and
opinions.…read more

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Knowledge of Good is highest knowledge humans capable of.
Only the philosopher can make judgments based on a priori knowledge. (thinks independently of senses
­ can see into world of Forms where Good is). Ordinary people struggle to see past illusions.…read more

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Both a critic and pupil of Plato. He was an empiricist ­ philosophy based on what we can observe (A Posterior
knowledge). His ideas of causations are found in his books `Metaphysics, Book 12.'
True Knowledge = Not two separate realms. The world we live in is the only place in which we can have true
knowledge, because it is through our sense experience that we come to understand things.…read more

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­Aristotle, The Metaphysics.
Aristotle went on to `categorise' different substances, many of which are brought about or changed by the Four
Causes. He believed that there were three types of substance.
Substances which are evident but will decay/die I.e. animals
Substances which are evident but will not decay/due i.e. time
Substances immune from chance I.e. number 2
Aristotle believed that all things were caused to be and that some things (1 and 2) were then caused to change
(potentiality to actuality) by the Four Causes.…read more

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Vengeful ­ destroying the city
First, uncaused cause Unchanging
of Sodom
Substance Outside time/ space Omni-Benevolent
Creator of everything Unaware of own power God changes
Physical through the person of
Eternal No Divine plan for the Earth
The efficient/ final cause Aware he is powerful
Has a divine plan for the
All Powerful
universe.…read more

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