The essence of truth: on Plato's parable of the cave and the Theaetetus

Many philosophers have proposed ideas that can be utilized to describe situations that people confront in their daily lives. Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Aristotle's political theory are discussed in this article as they apply to my personal experiences.

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Plato used the cave allegory in the Republic (514a-520a) to connect the influence of education and its lack in human nature (Lear 25). The masterwork is instructive for those interested in discovering the true nature of the things that exist in the cosmos; the theory concerns human perception. According to Plato, knowledge obtained through the senses is akin to opinion and that for one to have true knowledge; it must be gained through philosophical cognition. In the allegory, Plato differentiates between individuals who take the sensible experience as the truth and those who perceive the truth. To me, the theory concerns experiencing insight and attaining knowledge at the individual level. I think that every person has his or her experience of reality and the worldview and thus, people have definite opinions, experiences, perspectives, and interpretations of what constitutes reality, which they gain from different sources.

Back to the cave allegory theory, Socrates let Plato envision a situation in which some convicts were bound in chains in a cavern since their infantry. They are chained in such a way that they cannot turn their head around forcing them to look only in front at the wall. Behind them is a track with a low-lying barrier and fire above it (Heidegger 47). The people pass through the way behind the low-level wall carrying some objects on their head. The objects they are carrying are the only thing the prisoners can see (Lear 27). The shadows seen comprise people, animals, and other things people see in every-day life.

Given that the prisoners are unable to look behind, they can only perceive the shadows before them. For the convicts, that, which they have perceived and heard as revealed on the wall constitutes their reality. The prisoners attribute the echoes and noises they heard to the shadows. Plato then imagines what could happen in case a prisoner was set free and goes towards the fire.

Plato hypothesized that the flickering light would initially blind him. He will then find it hard to go back to the darkness, which he was used to. If he were later dragged from the cave and taken to a bright environment, he would object returning to the dark space. At first, he would be blinded, and upon the return to his original space, he would not readily embrace the darkness. Consequently, the other inmates will make fun of him and fear to go out of the cavern to avoid facing the situation he encountered.

Through Plato's allegory analogy, I have been reflecting upon its significance to modern life. Clearly, everyone in the universe we live in possesses different ideology, views, and judgment from others. The result of this is every individual having a different opinion of the world around us. What anyone knows about the universe is only based on his or her sensory experience but not what the real world encompasses. Most of the sensory information is obtained from the media and as thus, there is a possibility of us having an erroneous reality.

Concerning the captives in the carven, I imagine that perhaps we are prisoners of our thoughts, which might just be an illusion. It appears that we need to attempt to break off from this cave and to investigate the experience and knowledge outside. Nonetheless as demonstrated in the story, at first, the bright sunlight (knowledge) will blind us provisionally. In fact, some people will fear to get out of the cave because of their subjectivity and associated uncertainties. Furthermore, it will be fool hardy for those who remained in the cave laughing at those who struggled to escape failing to acknowledge their restricted capacity and the need to free themselves from the chains that bind them.

Aristotle's Political Theory

Aristotle was one of the most prominent earliest thinkers in different disciplines of philosophy. In his Nicomachean Ethics, he describes political science (political theory) as the major influential science (Pangle 38). He defines politics as an everyday science because it concerns the noble practice of ensuring the citizens' happiness. His philosophical point is to attain the ultimate purpose of life. According to him, a politician has a very significant role, which is to legislate laws or constitutions. The legislation entails enduring customs, institutions, and laws (comprising a morality education system) for the citizenry (Pangle 38). Upon the creation of the constitution, the politician ought to act appropriately, preserve it, introduce amends where necessary, and avert aspects, which could jeopardize the political structure. Concerning the best constitution, every person will hold moral quality and the intent to applying it and thus achieve a lifestyle characterized by complete happiness and excellence.

With the political theory, I firmly believe that Aristotle intended the citizens' wellbeing and their lives to be deliberated before making permanent any legislation. After putting the laws into place, the politician has a role of ensuring that they are observed. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle considers maybe the most puzzling question people confront: What is a purposeful life? According to him, everyone in life has a goal or purpose, and that a purposeful life is that, in which one always pursues some good.

Basing on the best constitution and living a purposeful life, I expect to enjoy a good life that is full of happiness as bestowed by my state. The greatest good for human folk is that aim for which all activities of human occurs. Aristotle considers that the greatest good for humanity is Eudaimonia ('happiness'). According to him, 'happiness is a perfect and self-sufficient aspect, and it is the purpose of things people do' (1097b20-2) (Tessitore 66). From my perspective, Aristotle's view of 'Eudaimonia' does not constitute the experience most contemporary individuals associate with happiness. For a reason, I have resolved to pursue Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia rather than going for external materials of the world (Tessitore 67). In a bid to understand the definition of eudaimonia, 'eu' suggests 'well' while daimon refers to 'spirit' or 'divinity,' which specifies that the individual lives in harmony with some of divinity (Tessitore 72). The definition validates that this happiness encompasses more than just a temporary sensation.

To sum up, Aristotle's political theory and the concept of a purposeful life has played a key role in determining my purpose, end, and goal of life, which is to live well. Over time, I have done this by accumulating all the real goods, which align with my natural needs such as living in harmony with the divine and I improve my chances of experiencing a good life by nurturing good behaviors.

Work Cited

Heidegger, Martin. The essence of truth: on Plato's parable of the cave and the Theaetetus. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2004. Print.

Lear, Jonathan. "Allegory and myth in Plato's Republic." The Blackwell Guide to Plato's Republic (2006): 25-43.

Pangle, Thomas L. Aristotle's Teaching in the" Politics.” Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Print.

Tessitore, Aristide, ed. Aristotle and Modern Politics: The Persistence of Political Philosophy. Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002.

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