Argumentative Essay 1b
Philosophy is an attempt to understand the How and the why of our lives. It urges us to go beyond our mistaken perceptions and brings us to question what we already believe to know. In the “Republic” Plato brings us to think about our false perceptions of the reality by using an allegory which establishes a metaphor between the sensible world and the intelligent world. The analysis of this allegory includes a summary and the explanation of the metaphors which encourages us to adopt a philosophic behavior and a conclusion on both realities which face us. The allegory of cave makes us to understand that we are convinced to know well certain things without having really understood and experimented them. So, we are getting stuck into our opinions and to get out of this prison, it is necessary to become aware of our ignorance. In this way, how can we try to know something when we already believe that we know it? This brings us to wonder if this allegory of the cave is still relevant in our world? Even though it is a metaphor, the allegory of the cave can have consequences in our world and in some important aspect or our lives. In one hand, this world would know more justice if people realize that their mind are held captive by Government, media, and technologies and on the other hand, society would experience more happiness if we can see things by ourselves and make our own judgments.
The allegory represents the condition of the human being in our society where our minds are held captive by the Government, media, and technologies preventing the society to know more justice. The allegory of the cave discusses the influence of the human mentality and view are the political world, our way of thinking and being. The prisoners in the cave are under control and know nothing but the life of the cave, even worse, they only know one wall of the cave. In the cave prisoners do not take interest in their present existence as prisoners of the cave. They are not cognizant of themselves or of their environment, they are only aware and concerned by the shadows. One of the most important interpretations of the Allegory of the Cave is the individual within the cave, a cave that people build around them. Shadows represent a false indication that seems real. The outside world often uses fire and shadows to produce fear. A majority of people replay the shadows scenario to maintain a status quo in them and not have to face the realities inside and outside. They own their personal caves where they are controlled by false indications that seem real. The shadows are very symbolic of a consensual reality programmed and permanently reinforced by the dominant media and technologies which most people think is trustworthy. This is why Chaffee thinks that “Plato was convinced that much of what people consider to be “knowledge” in the world is actually at this lowest level of opinion but that they deceive themselves into thinking that their unsupported impressions have genuine merit” (Chaffee, John 233) meaning we are deceived by our preconceived opinions. Images have become part of the cycle that determines the meanings. They affect our judgments, our identities, our economy. In other words, we live the simulation because “We develop opinions through the simple experience of living and observing the world. But these opinions reflect the transitory nature of human life and so can never achieve the status of universal knowledge” (Chaffee, John 232). the true knowledge is beyond the images and opinions that the we see or hear. There are a lot of fights, prejudices and stereotypes because of our opinions and less justice because people are dictated by the puppeteers who take decisions for them.
The first step of change is to realize that we live in the simulation. We need to take a step back from opinions, beliefs, situation, and this is not the simplest thing. The exit from the media or technologies represents the fact that when you start thinking, you take a certain distance from opinions and you learn to distinguish what is real from what is deceptive or erroneous. We learn how to develop the ability to ask the right questions, with objectivity and method, to dare to go in the direction that we want to achieve is the basis of the evolution. This process of confrontation of our answers with reality bring change in our life. The government nowadays give us a lot of information that we tend to take as truth. For instance, thinking that all Muslims are terrorists, all Mexicans are rapists or all Blacks are thieves are all preconceived ideas and as consequence those people are rejected and minimized. We are prisoners chained by the ideas of the Government and as consequence justice is not really served. The Government is in control of the education, media, laws and people and if we don’t realize that we are their prisoners, if we don’t ask the right questions, we will remain in the cave chained by our own illusion and we will never know justice or render it to someone. Plato says “the true lover of knowledge naturally strives for truth, and is not content with common opinion, but soars with undimmed and unwearied passion till he grasps the essential nature of things” (Chafee, John 232). If we grasp nature of thing, our society will know more justice.
Media like the Government only tells us what they want us to hear or believe. Almost all the magazines are selling images or pictures of what a superhero or a supermodel should look like. This type of illusion creates injustice in the world by making those who are not like those super characters feeling uncomfortable in their bodies. Media keeps people in the cave and then we cannot experience real justice as long as we remain captives of all those medias. We need to realize that all those images are fake and not real, they make a fake image of ourselves and we finally change our personality or opinions just because we have been dictated by what we see and not our reason. Therefore, media doesn’t help the world to know justice or even to experience happiness.
The allegory of the cave can help the world to experience happiness if they are able to make their own judgment. Government, media and technologies are few things that block our ability to function individually and intelligently. The message that Plato gives us here, that opinion is not the truth, applies to one of the most common problems: prejudices. It is based entirely on a particular experience without manifestation of a desire to really know, open its mind to understand that the observation of a case does not apply to all similar. If we take homophobia as an example, we see that this is a thoughtless judgment based on particular experiences and universally reapplied. Homophobia is expressed through people who are unaware of their limited point of view and who obviously do not seek what they already believe they know. Thus, these prejudices make us live in ignorance. “Most people are submerged in the shadowy world of illusion and mere opinion, completely unaware of their own lack of enlightenment. It is possible for people to move from ignorance to rationally based knowledge and wisdom, but it requires willingness, dedication, and wise teachers as guides” (Chaffer, John 236). Now, for Plato, this ignorance is the reason why we refuse to liberate ourselves and to decide to leave the cave and discover happiness; hence the essence of freedom that emanates Allegory. By perpetuating the practice of prejudice, we do not exercise our freedom. We think we are acting of our own accord, but do we really know what we are doing? Because by acting in ignorance of what we actually do, we are in fact in no way free. Are we condemned like the characters in the text, preferring to stay in the reassuring environment of their cave? Will we live our whole life thinking to act well, to think well, when in fact we are swimming in ignorance? There would be the great misfortune of life. In this sense, when we make a judgment, bring our opinion to a discussion or repeat information previously seen or heard, we are all convinced that our point of view makes sense.
Through technologies, communication media and our countless scientific knowledge, we have access to information that we consider truthful and certain. It is strange that we do not even care that we could be ignorant, whereas “Gaining knowledge of various forms of government requires developing a grasp of the fundamental concepts of the discipline, as well as the principles and laws that characterize it. Thus, we must use our reasoning capacities to go beyond the world of appearance and opinion, to grasp the essence of the Forms and define that discipline”. (Chaffer, John 232). We think our mind already open, so we do not seek. Which in fact proves that our mind is totally closed. Choosing to read Allegory leads us to a choice: to open one’s mind and to realize that in fact we do not know or only let one’s mind be blinded by our particular experiences and therefore not understand the message communicated by the text. It is true, on the other hand, as Plato illustrates, that it is painful and difficult to observe the truth for the first time. Many may not tolerate this pain, but the beauty of Allegory lies not in the concrete consequence it gives, but in its ability to cause us to question ourselves, which is the first step of the passage from knowledge to mere ignorance.
In today’s society, prisoners are being held captive by the images created by the puppeteers. They are trying to keep us happy by creating glamorous images and may change their technique according to economic social demands. If all those puppeteers lead our life, how can we experience justice or true happiness that does not depend on wealth, fame or power? Society has grown too dependent on Government, media and technologies and therefore keep us away from the truth. We should educate ourselves in order to live justice and happiness. Limiting the amount of time we spend using, watching or listening to all those tools keep us away to enjoy true happiness.
Chaffee, John. The Philosopher’s Way: Thinking Critically About Profound Ideas. Fifth Edition. Pearson, 2016.