Essay about Plato
According to David Foster’s This Is Water we revolve ourselves around certain beliefs that we think are a matter of fact. We do not even think for once that they can be questioned too. In this way our brain creates a circuit making us unaware that we are imprisoned by our beliefs.
The concern of certainty is a legitimate worry for philosophers because many things that we are certain of turns out to be totally opposite, wrong, and deceptive. When eventually it is dawned upon us that our beliefs were wrong or they can be counter questioned, our self-centered behavior gets hurt. Ultimately it produces chaos inside us. We should need to understand that change is the most powerful law of nature. And we cannot be certain about even certain things.
Worry of Plato and Descartes on the unexamined everyday world:
Plato has acknowledged with the quote that “ An unexamined life is not worth living” by Socrates during his trials. Their worry is justified because when we examine anything we try to understand it. Examined life leads you to live a transparent life. When you start examining you come to know what you are living. Socrates was the philosopher and philosophy means to question everything. If we will stop examining everything, the philosophy would simply be fallen down or completely vanished. They were worried that if the examining would be stopped, there would be no attraction to live for.
According to Descartes, if a belief has even the slightest tint of doubt, reject it. This thought is called radical skepticism where every belief is counter questioned and challenged. He concluded this experiment in a statement that physical senses cannot be relied upon as they have deceived him earlier. This phenomenon is known as sensory deception. This led him to think that every believer can be doubted that is perceived by five senses. He also explained that it is difficult to differentiate between waking life and dream states. So we cannot say that whether we are in the awake state, living in reality or asleep, living a dream. This he named as dream hypothesis. He also postulated the evil demon hypothesis. He stated that all external realities may be just an illusion framed by the evil demon trying to deceive the man. Moreover, he said that previous memories can be merely imaginations and not strong realities. These all statements and theories made him doubt the theory of the existence of anything.
Plato presented the allegory of the cave. He postulated a story. He said there are few prisoners present in the depths of a cave. The cave is all dark. The prisoners are sitting behind a wall. A fire is lit behind the prisoners which cast shadows of them on the wall. Few prisoners among them are puppeteers who make puppets on the wall from the light of the fire. They make noises while making puppets on the wall. According to their perception, truth is nothing more than shadows.
In other words, prisoners are unaware of this illusion and consider these shadows a reality. One day a prisoner unchained himself and went to move around the cave. At night he saw stars and in the day he saw light. It was then dawned upon him that the true source of light is the sun. then he realizes that his previous life in the cave was just an illusion. He depicts prisoners as people with false beliefs about reality. They gave their hold to senses which eventually manipulated the reality.
After getting to know about their experiments in detail, both of them thought that senses are illusory. Our senses can be manipulated easily and they can interfere with our perception of reality. Moreover, the evil demon hypothesis of Descartes is relevant to prisoners whose perception is distorted by puppeteers. For both of them the intellect is the only means for getting insight into true knowledge. Senses are deceptive.
I think their projects differ at one point. Descartes provides the initial point to modern sciences by just not relying on five senses whereas Plato told us about the way of life, how to spend it logically and the essence of seeking true knowledge. Moreover, Plato’s theory represented the conclusive point whereas Descartes’s theory opened the gates of further investigation.
The preferred method to think about the possibility of illusion or deception is the escape from the cave. This approach is more applicable and practical because those who acquire it can come back to the cave and teach others who are still unaware of the reality.
I would try to increase the people in logical reasoning and to break the circles of false consciousness. The darkness in the cave can be overcome by true knowledge and intellect. In this way this goal can be practical. Wisdom and knowledge come through seeking and questioning. It is enlightened on you when you move out of your cave and start observing your surroundings closely. In this cave analogy of Plato, cave and its darkness abbreviate unawareness and light and its source abbreviates awareness and truth. Moreover, we should note that intellect is not served to us in a decorated plate but we have to go and strive for it.
To educate others after getting yourself enlightened is the best possible way to take others out of the cave and the darkness. We should try to look beyond physical appearances as they can cause delusion. (Palmer, 2017)