Unit 1: Greek Philosophy - Plato and Aristotle



  • Plato was a pupil of Socrates. Socrates was executed for 'corrupting the youth.' 
  • Travelled around and eventualy created his university in Athens.
  • Knowledge gained through senses (a-posteriori or empirical knowledge.)
  • Gained through reasoning (a-priori.)
  • Analogy of the cave makes contrast between people who see appearances and mistake them for truth, and those who actually see truth.
  • The analogy suggests that people are 'philosophy ignorant' and are like prisoners 
  • The world outside represents the world of forms
  • The prisoner who escapes is Socrates (Philosopher-King)
1 of 5

The Symbolism

The Cave = World of sight/apperances.

Prisoners = Us, trapped in this world of appearences who believe  this all as true. We are like prisoners who are being stopped from realising the Real i.e. the Forms. Prisoners are in a state Eikasia (i.e. lowest level of understanding.)

The objects/statues = Imitations of the Forms.

Objects carried by people = those people represent politicians who lead people but don't actually know the truth of the Forms or don't want people to know.

The Fire = the sun of our world.

The journey out of Cave = journey of the soul upward into the realm of Forms.

Being dazzled = analogy to the philosopher gradually learning to differentiate between the Forms and imitations.

The Sun = Form of the good, the sun sustains all living things.

2 of 5

Plato's Cave is good

  • Plato good point that empirical knowledge can be flawed as we live in an imperfact world of apperances and imitation of the forms. Better knowledge is logical reasoning (A-priori) as it based on philosophical reason not our suspect senses.
  • Plato gives a reason for the imperfection of the world which we see all around us, admits the world is imperfect copies of the Forms as we lived there before.
  • We recognise these imperfect copies of the forms as we lived there before.
3 of 5

Plato's Cave is not good

  • Unclear link between the World of Apperance and the Forms. The cave analogy doesn't tell us how they are connected.
  • How does one actually realise the truth and the reality of the forms in order to become enlightened? Plato mentions the hard journey out of the cave is analogous to the soul leaving the world. That may mean a person must die in order to realise the Forms. So how can a person come back and tell the people inside the cave if he is dead? Or does it mean we can realise the truth while being here, but how does on do that?
  • But Plato's arguments is Absolutist and universal. Not everyone may accept this, certainly Aristotle didn't.
  • No concrete proof that world in cave or outside is real. How can you prove the prisoners and philosophers is right or wrong?
  • Just because someone is philosophically enlightened and intelligent, does that nexessarily make them perfect for leadership? For example, stereotype smart people lack common sense.
4 of 5

Plato's Forms relate to the Particulars

  • There are various types of Forms, but everything has a Form.
  • There are Froms for value like Beauty, Justice and Wisdom.
  • There are Forms for living i.e. Dogs and Frogs.
  • The Form is what all the particulars have in common.
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all Plato resources »