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Plato's "The Republic" Critically discuss the simile of the cave in relation to the role of the philosopher

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Introduction

Philosophy Plato's "The Republic" Critically discuss the simile of the cave in relation to the role of the philosopher ruler. In the simile of the cave We are asked to picture a group of people sitting inside a dark cave, their hands and feet are bound in such a way that they can only look at the back wall of the cave. Behind the chained prisoners a fire is burning, and between them and this fire a path runs along which men carry figures, the shadows of these figures are projected onto the back wall of the cave. The prisoners experience is based solely on the shadows, which form their world. They have been sitting in this position since they were born so they believe that all they can see is all that there is. Within this illustration one of the prisoners is set free and confronted with the real world and the sun, a painful experience. At first he cannot see anything due to the bright sunlight, but after a while, for the first time in his life, he sees colours and shapes. One point that Plato is making in this simile is the relationship between the darkness of the cave and the world beyond, corresponding to the relationship between the empirical world and the world of ideas and forms. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore the person who has accessed true understanding of the form of good will be unwilling to involve himself in everyday life and those members of society who have not understood truth. Yet these are the people Plato sees fit to rule. In order to rule the philosopher rulers must take part in everyday life. There seems to be a problem with the willingness of the philosophers for the lack of it may mean they are unfit after all. However Plato says these individuals are obliged to do so, even though, as part of their character trait they would love philosophy and wish to persue it above the ruling of the society, the philosophers will be educated to know this his duty. Relating to this point Plato emphasises the need for the philosophers above any other members of society to rule, for he suggests that if ruling is assigned to those who want to rule, then this will not be a success and bad government will be the result, power and position will become the objective and not the good of the society. Therefore Plato says that the philosophers' unwillingness will be an advantage to the governing of the society, as the good of the society will be the only objective for which they are concerned within this job role as rulers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Throughout the republic Plato considers the philosopher rulers to be social hierarchy, however given the previous discussion, it would appear not to be the case in reality, for usually we would consider someone's social ranking dependent on the view of the majority. When analysing Plato's the republic, particularly his ideal state, the immense difficulties in creating a flawlessly run society come to light, for it is not easily done. His simile of the cave attracts a great deal of critics because of its problems when applied to society, but because it is an analogy of the way in which Plato views society it does not appear to work well. Plato does not take account of human nature, One cannot ignore this; in order for the philosopher rulers to govern as Plato wished, the people of the society must be the equivalent of robotic. In reality, people, particularly in the 21st century are extremely individualistic, opinionated, and possessive by nature, it is human nature to label. It is implausible to believe that strict early education can change this. However that is not to say that philosophers would not make good rulers, perhaps the knowledge philosophers have can help politics, even in the 21st century. ...read more.

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