Plato's Allegory Essay

1043 words - 5 pages

Plato’s Allegory
Plato is known today as one of the greatest philosophers of all time, allowing him a prominent place in the history of philosophy. To fully appreciate Plato's ideas and viewpoint, it is important to understand his contributions to rationalism and his perception of human knowing. It is also essential to know and appreciate how his Allegory of the Cave depicts rationalism and human knowing, and parallels Christian thought. Finally, comparing and contrasting Plato’s worldview with that of his students Aristotle will provide a broader understanding of rationalism and human knowing, and Plato’s allegory.
Plato made many important contributions to philosophy as well as to the ...view middle of the document...

Empiricists believe that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge (Stanford, 2004). Aristotle recognized the difference between reason and sense experience; however, his account of human knowledge is far more complex. He regarded both reason and sensation has integral parts of the knowing process (Nash, 1999). Aristotle’s views on human knowing are more in sync with my beliefs and what I see in my day-to-day life. It is more logical that human knowing results in a combination of knowledge and experience.
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is regarded as one of the most important passages in all of Plato’s writings (Nash, 1999). Through detailed description, Plato invites his readers to imagine a cave--built in such a way that prisoners are forced to live their life isolated from truth and reality. The cave has many levels, and if a prisoner were to escape, he would realize that the world he was forced to see was not the only world that exists. Part of what the prisoners saw in the cave were shadows that mimicked objects. According to Plato, the things that are ordinarily perceived in the world are characterized as shadows of the real things, which are not perceived directly (Stanford, 2004). Each level of the cave represents a Form, which illustrates the different levels of human awareness. The lowest Forms relate to sense experiences and the highest Form is the Good. Plato considered the Good as things humans should know including Truth, Beauty and Justice (Nash, 1999).
The allegory is a metaphorical interpretation of the human race and our limitations to physical particulars. Plato believed that each human being perceives a physical world that is but a poor imitation of a more real world (Nash, 1999). In my opinion, The Allegory of the Cave is a depiction of rationalism since it involves knowledge through reason, not experience. The prisoners in the cave are without the ability to have experiences; therefore, the only knowledge they can gain is through reasoning. There reasoning is broken down into levels based on what they are able to...

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