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Believing Is Seeing Essay

1189 words - 5 pages

In Plato’s The Republic, Book seven, he discusses the cliché “seeing is believing”. By Plato’s use of symbols to help explain his point of ignorance in truth due to our traditions, society’s constant fear of change and our natural ability to question what we see. In this allegory, the depictions of humans as they are chained, to only learn by sight. Plato toy’s with the notion of what would happen to people should they embrace the concepts of philosophy, to become enlightened by it, to see things as they truly are. As we have seen in class, Plato’s theory did not only present itself in his allegory, but also in the Wachowski brothers’ hit-film, The Matrix. In the film, the protagonist, Neo, suffers from a similar difficulty of adapting to reality, or the truth, which we will see later on. Throughout this paper, it will be argued that, Plato’s use of these symbols, he ultimately concludes that true knowledge is knowledge that we have of what we see and not knowledge of what we see, as was the case of the prisoners in The Allegory of the Cave.
Upon beginning Plato’s seventh book of The Republic, the reader is immediately faced with a mental picture. The theory of the cave is described rather clearly by Socrates early on. At first read, the concept of the cave becomes harder to follow as the discussion went on. One can easily grasp Socrate’s idea of the cave by simply following along with a drawing of the cave. For the purpose of this paper, I have included a diagram of the cave to better explain the arguments (Appendix A).

Plato’s concept of The Allegory of the Cave is another idea based on his theory of forms. The theory argues that our knowledge of reality/forms is not real knowledge; only our knowledge of these forms can be considered as real knowledge. The Allegory of the Cave was a conversation between Glaucon and Socrates. Socrates was explaining the cave to Glaucon. There’s a group of prisoners who are bound by chains at their hands, legs, and even neck. They were virtually cut off from seeing anything than the walls they were chained to. The prisoners have been in these conditions since their earliest stages of life. The cave, the wall, and the chains are all the prisoners have ever known. Behind the prisoners, was a raised walkway. Above the walkway was a platform, where there was a fire burning, and in front of the fire, was a parapet, which as Plato described it , was like that of the screens Puppeteers use to hide themselves and have the puppets be visible . Each and every day, the prisoners see nothing, but the shadows of the objects and people passing between them and the fire. For their entire lives, the prisoners are exposed to nothing but those images and the sounds made by those walking around. These shadows are all they have ever known, in essence; these shadows are their only “reality”. As time passed, the prisoners would grow accustomed to these sights, later on the prisoners would match the objects...

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