• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

‘Taken as a whole, the Sun, Divided Line and Cave present us with a coherent picture of Plato’s ideas’. Discuss.

Extracts from this document...


'Taken as a whole, the Sun, Divided Line and Cave present us with a coherent picture of Plato's ideas'. Discuss. The purpose of the simile of the Sun is to show the difference between knowledge and opinion. In the world of opinion the sun gives light for us to gain empirical knowledge through sight. Objects (such as tables and mugs) and concepts (such as beauty and love) are part of the world of opinion because they are detected by our senses. The Form of beauty (or love) exists in the realm of the Forms. Plato believed that the Form of good gives philosophers knowledge of the Forms. The Form of Good gives the mind's eye the power of knowledge and illuminates other Forms with truth and reality. In this way the Form of good allows us to see other forms and ultimately it allows us to see the form of good. The sun is also the source of all growth, and thus the Form of good is the source of all the Forms, and the cause of all existence. In the Sun, Plato's idea is that visibility is opinion and the Form of good gives us the reality behind visibility - knowledge of the Forms. The divided line goes into more depth on Plato's previous idea. ...read more.


There are people talking outside holding statues. Their voices and the images of the statues are projected into the cave, and the prisoners believe these are real. The people trapped in the cave are all looking at shadows of statues (images themselves) projected against the wall, and therefore are doubly ignorant. Plato allows a prisoner to be released, and he walks towards the fire where he is dazzled. It hurts him, and he is told that the people on the road are real and that the shadows are nonsense. He returns to the cave: choosing illusion. Plato is showing a would-be philosopher failing his journey of knowledge, due to a flawed character. Later on, the prisoner is taken into the sunlight and held until his eyes grow accustomed to the sunlight. Once accustomed he can see shadows and reflections within time. Plato here brings in the idea from the simile of the Sun, creating a coherent idea between the two similes, that the Form of good (the Sun) allows the philosopher to see other things until finally he can see the forms, and finally the Form of good itself (the Sun). Through duty the prisoner returns to the cave and is blinded by the darkness. This is an idea Plato has that the eyes can be blinded by the light and by the dark, as the mind can be confused by greater and lesser minds. ...read more.


He also contradicts what he said earlier in the section on the Philosopher Ruler, that people in general only experience opinion / belief. This is only a problem if we use a strict interpretation, and in that case it would not be a simile at all, as similes should be open to wide interpretation. Another problem occurring in the Cave is that the shadows are used to describe illusion once, and mathematical reasoning another time. If we take the Divided Line, shadows should show illusion, and mathematical reasoning should be based upon physical things and a certain amount of belief. Plato has misused his metaphor of shadows in one of these similes and created an inconsistency. Although Plato has given us a clear picture of what his idea of knowledge and opinion is, and how the Form of Good fits into it, he has left many questions unanswered and a lot of gaps which need filling. His similes have been written and laid out in such a way that they can be interpreted in many varying, some contradictory fashions. This leads to the question of "did Plato actually know himself where he was going with his arguments, or did he make them up as he went along?" I personally think he thought them out well, but had to manipulate some things to fit in with his line of reasoning. This is perhaps a reason why these three similes are partly incoherent. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Philosophy essays

  1. Explain what Plato meant by the Form of the Good?

    According to the theory, the cycle would be endless. The problem is that Plato can't stop at just one Form for each type of thing. An infinite number of Forms is a ridiculous notion. If we deny that there are an infinite number of Forms for each thing, which Plato

  2. Synoptic Study, Satre, Engels and Marx

    Under capitalism this natural progress is broken as the labourer is no longer in control of his product, he is working and creating product which will become the property of others. Capitalism sees that the worker will create products which the bourgeois will take.

  1. Our freedom to make ethical choices is an illusion Discuss

    However Honderich rejects the claims of quantum physics, saying that they only apply at the subatomic level. The principle of causality is taken for granted when considering freedom as the opposite of causality is randomness. Random events are no freely chosen than behaviour determined by the laws of physics so rejects free will.

  2. Theories of Resurrection of the body are logically coherent - Discuss

    Moreover, he doesn't specify what happens to the body, for example does the body remain on earth, and are people replicated who've died from severe injury with mangled bodies. Hick justifies his theory in parable of Celestial City, where demonstrates how the truth can only be known eschatologically, and since

  1. The concept of disembodied existence is coherent - Discuss

    Of course, if the souls of the departed are assumed to be fitted out immediately with resurrection bodies, this difficulty is greatly alleviated. But if the notion of an immaterial soul is to do any philosophical work, we need to be able to think what it might be like for such a soul to exist on its own, unembodied.

  2. After the printing of the picture of the prophet of Islam, Mohammed, the moral ...

    A boycott of Danish products in the gulf has cost Denmark $27 million dollars. It has exposed Denmark's Islamophobia and incensed Muslims all around the world. The BNP leader Nick griffin was found not guilty of stirring up racial hatred on Friday.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work