Plato's anology of the cave

AS level essay regarding Plato

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  • Created on: 13-01-11 12:11
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Plato was a Greek philosopher active between 347428 BC, they believed that the world was
created by a god, not the JudeoChristian God. The god was called Demiurge and he created the
world from the preexisting material rather than creating it from nothing, creatio ex nihilo. Plato
believed that people should question everything so that they can see if what they see is real or an
illusion of the truth. He believed in the relativity of the forms, whereby nothing on earth is perfect
because everything is changing, how can we know something if it keeps changing. For example a
tree, when people think of a tree they see a fully blossomed green leaved tree. But in autumn
when the tree looses it's leaves people can still identify it as a tree. Therefore because everything
is different, how can we know it's true? The theory of forms is that everything that exists has a
perfect copy. That perfect copy is in our heads. Referring back to the tree, the image most people
to think about is the perfect fully blossomed green leaved version tree, Plato believe that the
perfect copy that people think about is more real than the tree we see in our gardens because it
never changes, whereas in real life the tree is changing all the time. It's growing or dying,
therefore because it's never the same we can't really say it's real. Because everything according
to Plato is always changing people could never truly understand them, Plato thought that the
different objects that we see in the physical world were only copies of the ones in our heads, the
"Ideal Forms". Plato believed that because the ideal form never changes that this supports that
they're more real, he also believed that we all have a knowledge of forms from birth because we
know what feeling are. We know pain is bad and that laughter is good, because of this Plato
believed that people have immortal souls.
Plato tries to confront these issues of not conforming to accepting what's in front of you and not
questioning whether it's the only truth through his Analogy of the Cave. Plato was the student on
another Greek Philosopher called Socrates. He explains it by imagining that some people are
chained in a cave as "prisoners" and they are chained in a way that they can only see what's in
front of them and nothing else. And there is a fire behind them which is the source of the
shadows. Plato wants us to imagine that they have no memory of anything, all they can see is that
light from the fire which is reflected off the wall, there is wall a low wall like a walk way. People
walk behind the wall carrying different things and as they walk pass a shadow is casted on the
wall for the prisoners to see. They can only see these shadows and not the actual object or what it
is's made of. So for them the shadow of what they see is the truth. There is nothing else other
than it. They name the objects as if they were the real thing.
Plato told this analogy to display how far away people were from the real world, everything they
have seen and learn all their empirical knowledge is a lie but because it's all they know they
perceive it as truth. He then asks us to imagine the situation of a prisoner "escaping" , as he does
so he will see the objects that cast the shadows, the real objects. But he will think that the shadow
is more real than the actual object because it is all he knows. He when gets outside the sunlight is
blinding but he accustoms to it.
Plato is trying to explain that people who don't question what they see are stupid, people should
not accept everything at face value because it will have some more behind it. The prisoners in the
cave are people who don't want to know the truth, they are prisoners because they are so
acclimated in their little they become too stubborn to accept that it is wrong. Plato tells the story of
the prisoners playing games to pass the time, guessing what shadow will come next. A game that
has no skill, this shows us that people will happily accept what's in front of them and will enjoy it
because it's all they want to know. When escapee comes back in to the cave and tries to tell them
their world is wrong and the real world of knowledge is outside, they ignore him because they

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They know that accepting an alternative world would be an
unnecessary effort and inconvenience from their content falsely lived lives. The escapee, when
reentering the cave find that the dark hurts his eyes. This shows that once you know the truth of
the real world and what is real you can't go back, to do so would hurt. In conclusion Plato
believed that the physical world of what we know (the cave) is not as real as the world of forms.…read more


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