Plato Essay

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(a) Explain Plato’s analogy of the cave. Plato held a firm belief that ‘reality’ can be found in a different ‘world’ where objects are immutable (unchanging) and therefore perfect, these concepts were known as ‘forms’ or ‘ideas’. Plato believed that the reality we perceive through our senses is merely a reflection of the ideas found in the ‘realm of forms’ and can’t truly be perfect as it is in a constant state of flux - there is no sense of stability and therefore we cannot truly understand something as it is constantly changing, consequently it is impossible to attain true knowledge. In order to enable someone to perceive true reality Plato explained these ideas through the analogy of the cave. In the analogy of the cave the character of Socrates (Plato’s mentor) portrays people sitting in a cave, chained down, with their heads facing a wall. The cave itself represents the world as it appears to us through the senses and the limits of our physical selves. There is a fire outside the cave which enables the prisoners to see shadows of objects, people and hear voices- the prisoners take these shadows for reality. One of the prisoners escapes and undergoes a gruelling journey to the outside world where he is initially blinded by the bright sun but soon becomes accustomed to the light. This represents the difficulties that come with philosophy, how it is a hard journey for the mind and can be painful at first as you are having to stretch your mind beyond what is considered ‘obvious’. With his newly attained knowledge the prisoner feels he must return to the cave to enlighten his fellow prisoners however, when he returns they shun him and kill him. The enlightened prisoner represents Socrates and the prisoners represent the ignorant people that penalised Socrates. Socrates’ journey is described as him being ‘reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged

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