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Coming Back To Plato's Cave Essay

1337 words - 6 pages

In Plato’s Republic, Book VII, Socrates presents an allegory to Glaucon that is meant to examine the effect of education and knowledge on human beings (514a). This allegory motivates the arguments given in the larger context of the Republic, namely the construction of the perfectly good and just city. Specifically, the allegory shows how the philosopher, as the only person who exits the cave in the allegory, is required to re enter the cave after having exited and come into direct contact with true reality. Some have critiqued the demand on the philosopher to be contradictory to other claims made by Plato, namely the claim that true justice is personal virtue and that it is always doing what ...view middle of the document...

With that being said, that alone cannot be used to justify the fact that the philosopher is sacrificing some good when complying with the demand of political rule, Kraut argues, since it is plausible that philosophizing in some contexts could detract from the good produced from or even make it unjust. So, in order to answer these questions, the circumstances surrounding the philosophizing in question. Specifically, we should inquire into what aspects of the philosopher-kings situation make is reasonable to give up, at least some, philosophical activities in favor of political activity.
In previous attempts to reconcile this seeming contradiction, arguments about the extrinsic good of the political life have been made. Kraut identifies Reeve’s argument in particular. Reeve argues for one possible extrinsic good of the political duty that could serve to outweigh the intrinsic good of the philosophical life that Kraut objects to. Reeve’s claim, according to Kraut, is that if the the philosopher failed to comply with the demand of returning to a political life, the institution that allowed for the philosopher to advance to his final position would be threatened. There is the possibility of civil war erupting in the city that the philosopher is dependent on in order to conduct philosophy if those who seem to benefit the most from the instituting don’t contribute in the end. Ultimately, the role of the philosopher is to investigate into the good and knowing the truth, but the role as a ruler becomes an instrumental good that is necessary to accomplish this.
Kraut claims this argument overlooks two key elements that make it implausible as the a solution to the apparent contradiction in Plato’s theory. Firstly, Kraut argues that the claim that a philosopher would garner more pleasure from studying philosophy in the city that fostered their growth rather than leaving the city altogether and studying either in another city. This, as Kraut points out, seems to be an empirical claim that may, or may not be true. When applied to the cave allegory, it becomes more obvious that Reeve’s argument is less plausible. Imagine a philosopher in the allegory of the cave that has exited the cave yet is still dependent upon the individuals in the cave in order to engage in the contemplation of the reality outside of the cave. It seems plausible that the philosopher would be as satisfied in their contemplation with support from any cave that has the ability to support their philosophizing and theorizing as they would with the support from their cave of origin. It may also be the case the philosopher could be self sustaining, or be sustained by a community independent of the cave of origin, whether the community is solely dedicated to the advancement of the philosophical inquiry, or a collaboration of individuals who come to an agreement of mutual support. What I have in mind in this example is similar to the academic institution we have in our society which allows for...

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