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Genessys Soriano Professor Foster Philosophy 100 November 10 2012 From the beginning of time man has questioned

all that surrounds him, But only a few have been plagued by the question of what is eal.philosophy, religion and science have all churned up their own answers to this fundamental question. In philosophy, great philosophers from Plato to Descartes and Kant to Hume have Each questioned the nature and scope (limitations) of knowledge, this has come to be known as epistemology. If one where to look up the definition of epistemology in the dictionary:The theory of knowledge, esp. with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. one wold be left with the idea that epistemology is related to critical thinking. But epistemology points to knowledge being of the truth, Epistemology ignores topics, mechanisms and methods encouraged in critical thinking. To further explore the nature and limitations of knowledge Plato wrote one of his most famous works he allegory of the cavein which he explores metaphorically the way in which people perceive and believe in reality. Plato whom lived from about 428 to 347 B.C. In Athens Greece is regarded as one of the most famous philosophers of his time. Plato studied under another great philosopher by the name of Socrates, his earliest writings can be regarded as an elaborate continuation of socratic insights. Like his master Plato held ethics as the highest form of knowledge stressing the intellectual basis of virtue and identifying said virtue with wisdom. After his mentor socrates death, Plato formed the Academy, an institute of scientific and philosophical research. Here is where he taught Aristotle whom is also regarded as a great philosopher. In his lifetime plato also delved into political theory, fundamental problems of natural science, theology and the metaphysical. Plato his mentor Socrates and his pupil Aristotle helped lay the philosophical foundation of western culture. Plato developed a wide ranging philosophical system known as platonism, platonism holds an underlying ethical motivation with thoughts on epistemological, logical and metaphysical aspects. Plato also founded an infamous philosophy school by the name o the Academy. Here he began to write the diolauges that became the feature of his philosophical exposition. One of his most famous dialouges being The allegory of the cave, part of plato's most famous book Republic(seventh book) less a diolauge but more of a long discussion in which socrates like in other previous diolagues is the main character. Plato wrote the dialogue to try and answer the question hat is

the nature of knowledge and ignorance?questioning the alignment of a perfect society and the true nature of justice. In his attempt to bring together ethical and religious principles, he tried to show the difference between opinions or beliefs and true knowledge. And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened this is the opening statement of allegory of the cave. In this statement we see how plato hasBecause the myth is written in a dialogue format we see socrates relay this statement to one of his pupils Glaucon. Socrates begins to paint a picture for his pupil so that he can see metaphorically the way people believe in what is reality and their journey from ignorance to wisdom. In the dialogue we are introduced to an underground holding closely resembling a cave. In this cave there are men whom have lived there as prisoners since they were children. Their legs and necks have been fastened so tight to the point that they are unable to move their bodies nor their heads. Forced to look straight out ahead of them, while a fire burns behind them and above them. Between the fire and the prisoners lays a road and in front of this road a curtain wall has been placed. This description is very close to that of a puppet show between the audience and the puppeteer. Behind this curtained wall there are men whom passing by with objects like figures of men and animals made up of wood as natural while walking across this curtain wall these men are speaking while some do not. Because of the position they have been tied up in the prisoners are incapable of seeing the actual objects and can only see the shadows of the objects cast ahead. He argues that the prisoners believe these shadows are real and if they wall of their prison opposite them reflected sound then whenever someone spoke on the road they would pressume the voice belonged to the shadow before them. Socrates goes on to exclaim that if these prisoners were released and cured of their delusions and if one of them were to stand up and turn his head and look and walk towards the fire, the prisoner would be incapable of seeing the object properly of which he was used to seeing its shadow and the actions too painful. If one went further and told this prisoner that all he was used to and all he knew was just a mere illusion and that now he was closer to reality and seeing the correct way. If he were asked to point out the real objects from those of the shadow he would be at a loss thinking that the shadows he once saw were far more real that the actual real objects. If he were made to look directly into the fire it would cause a great pain to his eyes and he would turn back around and take refuge in the shadows he would see knowing that they were to him far more

real than the actual objects. Now if this prisoner would then be dragged out from the deepest part of the cave out into the sunlight it would be too painful for him to resist causing him to object with great force. His eyes when met with the sunlight would instantly become blinded not able to see not one of the things he is now being told are real. As time goes by the prisoner will come to see that it is the sun that produces the changing season and the years and controls all that is in the visible world. With time his eyes would accommodate to the light, he would learn to behold shadows, then the reflection of men and other objects in water, before the objects themselves and finally he would be able to watch the heavenly bodies and the sky at night than by day and the moon and stars as opposed to the light from the sun and the sun itself. The dialouge comes to an end when socrates concludes that if the prisoner whom is now free were to be brought back into the cave he would find it extremely difficult to see in the cave and would be considered blind by the others who would for sure resist any attempt towards taking someone else out of the cave. Analyzing plato's allegory of the cave we can see that everything has a symbolic meaning. For example the prison/house is the world of vision where one can see, the prisoners are meant to symbolizes man whom has yet to experience true knowledge. the light from the fire is the sun, the shadows are what the non knowledgeable mistakenly believe reality to be. the journey upwards from the bottom of the cave to the opening can be taken as the rising of the soul into an intellectual world. In allegory of the cave plato tries to explain reality against a mirage and the problem of change. In the passage plato is trying to make us understand the general behavior of man when it comes to change he wants one to understand how frequent and easily an appearance can be mistaken for reality for example when the prisoners believed that the shadows they saw were the actual objects they mistook the shadow which was really an appearance as reality when in truth the shadows were just merely an appearance. Plato tried to show th at reality is not what we think it is and we can only be certain of the validity of that reality when one ascents into the intellectual world. Plato uses the cave as a simile to try and find what is right and why that is right in accordance to the normative ethics of his time. This is portrayed at the end of the story when any attempt to take the prisoners out from within the cave, to the prisoners would be morally wrong and result in the death penalty, but to the person that is trying to take the prisoner out of the cave this would seem like the right

thing to do, this points that what one deems to be the right thing or the wrong thing can only be localized it can not be standarized or generalized. Because it all depends on what side of the fence you're standing on. In the allegory of the cave plato tries to answer some major questions in epistemology oes one know that he knows? hat are the pre conditions of knowledge?and finally hat is knowledge? For plato in the world of knowledge the idea of good and evil comes last and even then he infers to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of lightand 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 . Lastly in the allegory of the cave plato points out how an individual by wrong reasoning can lead to misconceptions. To the prisoners in the cave it makes perfect sense to say that the voices they heard prior to an individual passing by belonged to the shadows they would see projected on the wall although we know this is not so. Logic can be affected by the level of knowledge or amount of exposure one has for it the prisoners had had prior experience with the real objects they would find the idea of shadows having voices as an illogical thought. In my opinion the allegory of the cave can be used as a manual for many situations in our everyday lives. Surprisingly plato's work has worked to help me understand racism, you see I always dismissed racists as jerks that unhappy with their own lives looked to bring down others. But much like allegory of the cave I realize now that racists are like the prisoners, many have all of their lives been locked and forced to see only what is in front of them. Be it by society or the people around them they only see the hadowswhich in this case would be lies and or misconceptions of another race. It is only when the racist person leaves their environment(the cave) are they capable of seeing the truth it is only then that they gain a better understanding of something they did not understand before. But like the prisoner that leaves the cave at first the racist person is lindby the light of truth, they dismiss this new knowledge and take refuge in their old ideals. But with time just like the prisoner they come to learn and realize that they were once wrong because they believed in an appearance as opposed to the reality. If that racist person were to go back to a fellow racist they once shared the same ideals with the racist person that is now not racist would not be capable of holding the same type of conversation nor have the same approach towards this racist person, because they have seen the light going back to the world would be blinding. If the non racist person were to take another fellow racist out of their mind state he would be met with hostility and the racist person would

most likely not want to hear what he has to say for they would believe their racist train of thought as the reality and not the appearance when in reality what they believe is an appearance. In conclusion the allegory of the cave helps point out the flaws in which humans normally think and the attitudes they have towards the world. It shows how people who live in darkness would meet change with hostility. Not willing to accept a new found knowledge because they believe that what they know is true knowledge. It points to how a person in darkness would see a person who has ascended from the darkness into the light and into true knowledge as an enemy and their knowledge as the plague. It shows how strong a man holds on to his religion and beliefs meeting any threat to that world with hostility. Plato was a very insightful man whom I am now thankful to for helping me understand something I'd never given any prior thought to.