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Comparing Plato's Allegory Of The Cave And Maimonides' Limits Of Man's Intellect

540 words - 3 pages

Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Maimonides' Limits of Man's Intellect

   Enlightenment is the key subject of both Plato's "Allegory" and Moses Maimonides' "Limits of Man's Intellect." To them, obtaining knowledge is life's most significant objective. Plato stresses "the Good" while Maimonides encourages "Perfection" as the aim of this objective. While both authors share compatible thoughts toward the subject of enlightenment, there are key differences between "the Good" and "Perfection" that should be duly noted.


In Plato's "Allegory" we see mankind in a state of imprisonment. What they consider reality is merely shadows that are cast on a cavern wall. This can be linked to Maimonide's essay in that he views man's youth as a kind of imprisonment when ...view middle of the document...

Maimonides equals this emphasis by acknowledging that man must earnestly seek knowledge and strive toward "Perfection" where he may find peace in the study of theological problems (295).


Although both authors speak of similar goals, Plato's "Good" and Maimonides "Perfection" suggest different entities. When Plato refers to the "Good," he is talking about an ultimate state of perfection that is beyond man, and though he may approach it and learn from it, while on earth, man can never possess or obtain it. I see Plato's "the Good" as a sort of deity which is not something man can strive to become or even fully understand. On the other hand Maimonides' "Perfection" is a mortal possibility that man should strive for. It is a process that can be followed if he paces himself and acknowledge his limits. While Maimonides speaks of "Perfection" as a process of learning through time, Plato tells of a "truth" that man already possesses and through "the Good" can remember what he had once known.


Of the two views presented by Plato and Maimonides, I feel that the process of learning by pacing oneself is definitely more applicable to a college student such as myself. I agree with Maimonides when he speaks of "man being born a wild ass" (298). When I graduated high school, I attempted college, but because I was still "wild," I did not perform as well as my abilities should have merited. However, now that I am older and wiser, I have the patience and desire to obtain knowledge and take the time necessary to succeed in higher education.


Works Cited


Jacobus, Lee A. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers, 5th ed. Boston: Bedford Books, 1999.

Maimonides, Moses.  "On the Limits of Man's Intellect." Jacobus, 289-303.

Plato.  "The Allegory of the Cave."  Jacobus, 275-85.


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