Plato And The Search For Truth Argumentative Essay Examples
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The Allegory of the Cave, written by Plato, is one of the great philosophical documents of Western civilization. The allegory describes people chained to a wall, facing a direction where all they can see are reflections of reality. The Allegory of the Cave addresses the key issues of what is real, and how does one find the truth in a world full of people who “follow the shadows.” Plato’s message is still applicable today. The idea of figuring out true meaning for oneself, instead of relying on the patterns and behaviors of others, is still hard to do in today’s world. The Allegory of the Cave has great personal meaning for those trying find their own way and make the own unique, individual choices.
Plato’s message begins with a premise that is still prevalent in today’s society. At the beginning of the parable, Socrates is speaking and describes the situation in the cave. He describes how he sees humans living in a cave which is open to the light. Their legs and necks are chained so they cannot move and look behind them. All the people are looking at a blank wall, and when images go past the light, those chained down only see the shadows. Socrates describes how vessels, statues and other figures pass by the wall, but the people do not actually recognize what is really happening (Plato 515). In essence, Plato is describing the state of humanity without proper knowledge and investigation into the world. Today, this would be describing situations of people simply going with along with the majority or believing false ideas without proper investigation. It also speaks to a will to not challenge anything a person is taught.
This scenario has even happened to me over the course of my education. Growing up in a region that was often skeptical of science and believed in a more fundamentalist view of the world, I can relate the notion of going along with the crowd and not making decisions for oneself. It was easy to fit into a culture that believed in a young earth, or that the meaning of life is to seek economic and elite status, while not always pursuing dreams and passions. Plato’s allegory describes how people have a tendency to be complacent and not fully investigate all the truths available to the world, and this is something that I have been working to overcome as well.
Plato continues by describing the process that occurs when someone is let out of the cave and experiences the truth. Plato describes the person as being “perplexed” and initially painful. Plato notes that it is more than likely those who have been liberated will soon want to return to the shadows because it is safer. However, Plato recognizes that given enough time, those who have been let out of the cave will soon realize the beauty of the reality and will be much better off for it (Plato 516). This speaks to the process of learning and finding one’s own path. It is difficult process, but ultimately rewarding.
This idea applies to my life as well, and is in fact, still occurring to this day. I am still searching for the truths in this world, but have learned a lot about reality since throwing off my preconceptions about how the universe worked. This idea especially applies to my studies in science classes as I have learned several different theories about how everything came into existence, and the scientific data that support how the earth really formed. Also applicable to this idea is my journey towards studying topics I truly enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed studying the humanities, and while initially difficult and challenging, especially since many people I regularly conversed with did not really understand, this became a great decision that I was better off for doing. It is hard to be a voice offering a differing opinion in a world marred by conformity, but when truth is realized, there is no going back.
Plato ends this section of the allegory by describing what would happen should those who have been enlightened return to the cave. Socrates narrates that those who had seen the real world would be grateful and pity the other prisoners stuck in the darkness. They would want to go back and bring them out of the cave. Of course Socrates also notes that upon returning to the cave, it could cause the enlightened one to return back to the previous state. His eyes would not immediately adjust, and the prisoners would think the outside of the cave is harmful and would not want to experience the true world (Plato 517).
Again, Plato’s message is relevant today, as there are many who refuse to accept new ideas and innovations out of fear. Scientific theories, whether it be evolution, alternative energy, or climate change, can scare many people into skepticism and not truly recognize the reality of the world they live. Plato’s message speaks to the importance of education and keeping the desire to help show people the truth about the world, regardless of the consequences.
In conclusion, The Allegory of the Cave has great personal meaning today for those seeking the truth and escaping the ignorance that can plague many people. Plato describes how taking a risk and exploring the actual world can be a painful process, but ultimately worth the experience in the end. Knowledge is important, and while Plato was trying to show how philosophers were the ones who possessed the truth, today this is also an important message. Everyone should explore the world and learn about the endless possibilities and realities that govern the universe.
Plato. "The Republic by Plato." The Internet Classics Archive. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.8.vii.html>.
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