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Explain Platos teaching about reality in his analogy of the cave. (25 marks)

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Introduction

Explain Plato?s teaching about reality in his analogy of the cave. Plato (c.427 BCE- c.347 BCE), was a famous philosopher and student of socrates. He created philosophical theories which are still discussed today, theories such as the theory of the forms are still debated in modern times by many people including current leading philosophers. Plato was also an absolutist therefore believed that principles would always be true no matter what. Plato?s ideas ranged from existence of the soul and the nature of beauty to who should run for government. The Analogy of the Cave is one of three similes used by plato to illustrate his theory of the forms - Plato believed that behind every object or concept in our world (the realm of appearances) there is an ideal form of it, in an unseen reality called the realm of the forms. The forms for these concepts or objects could be could be explained as ideal designs for certain examples of the concepts on earth, Plato calls these particulars. ...read more.

Middle

These shadows represent the illusions we see every day, they are the imperfect interpretations of the ideal form. To the prisoners they are real they exhibit structure so the sights and sounds seem real, this corresponds with us. Plato emphasises that the illusions are misconceived, and describes shadows as being artificial objects created by the fire. Plato uses the prisoners and the cave as a way of explaining to people that we, like the prisoners, do not know the truth but believe that what we see is reality however only philosophers know the truth (the realm of the forms). The cave is also used to suggest how the human body deceives us by imprisoning the soul and providing us with illusions from our senses. Plato says that these illusions seem more reliable that realty therefore the body stops the soul from looking for true knowledge (philosopher discovering the realm of the forms/form of good). Before the prisoner could leave the cave, he had to loosen his chains to escape. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the Analogy of the cave the sun represents the form of good, the sun gives light to illuminate the objects that it is giving life. This corresponds with the Form of Good as it gives us knowledge of all the other forms. Only king philosophers can gain knowledge of the Form of the Good as it will lead to full understanding of everything, this is what drive Plato to argue that many philosophers and politicians should not be leading society as they have not yet gained full and true knowledge of the forms. In conclusion Plato uses parts of the analogy as symbols to represent how his theory is relevant to us. For example when the philosopher was being dragged out of the cave and looked into the light, he experienced pain and struggled. This shows that gaining knowledge of the truth would be distressing and may force a person to change their views during the hard process. Plato uses The Analogy of the Cave to show that what we believe to be reality is in fact imperfect shadows of the ideal forms and that only by becoming a philosopher can we gain the true knowledge. ...read more.

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