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Plato’s The Republic Essay

1580 words - 7 pages

Plato’s The Republic

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 ...view middle of the document...

In
the simile the released prisoner then returns to the cave, there he
was no interest in the world as he once believed it to be, the other
prisoners think his journey to the outside world had ruined his eyes,
they would not wish this for themselves. He is ridiculed for leaving
in the first place.

The simile deals with all the aspects of Plato’s philosophical
beliefs, one belief held by Plato is that the philosophers are the
only members of society fit to rule, because they are the highest
educated. They are able to use the Form of the Good for perception and
are better qualified than the rest of the people in the state. In the
Simile of the cave these philosophers represent the freed prisoner
accessing the form of good, the visibility of the sun. Because of the
philosopher’s ability to access the intelligible realm they should
lead the state through politics, combining it with philosophy. They
have also seen the truth; therefore their judgement is not clouded by
things that are not knowledge in the physical realm. Plato's idea is
that knowledge is that of truth. Those who do not have knowledge are
not fit to rule a state, as they do not know about things that are
good. Knowledge should enable someone to guide the followers to the
truth, just as the simile of the cave represents a free person who can
see the light, rather than the shadows should guide those in the cave
to seeing light too, and being able to distinguish what is good or bad
for the state.

In the latter stages of “The cave”, on return of the freed prisoner,
Plato states how the freed prisoner has no interest in the shadows,
for he has seen the truth. 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...

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