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Enlightenment Established By The Community Essay

1568 words - 6 pages

Sophocles’ Oedipus, Plato’s ship owner, and Plato’s prisoner in the cave share a common theme of reluctance to learn from the truth, and show the role that others play in facing self-identity. All three, Oedipus, the ship owner, and the prisoner in the cave illustrate the theme of deliberation manifested by a society. Enlightened by others, Oedipus finally learns that he has committed murder and incest. Similarly, the ship owner is shown his limitations and thus understands that he is not qualified to navigate his vessel when the sailors quarrel over who would be next in command. Furthermore, the prisoner in the cave is dragged out by others (community of enlightened individuals) and given the opportunity to view the real world for the first time. Therefore, with the assistance of others (community), Oedipus, the ship owner, and the prisoner in the cave are able to acknowledge their identities and face the truth about their erroneous behavior. Through Sophocles and Plato, civic deliberation comes into these three approaches: (1) with the evidence given to him by the public, Oedipus learns the truth of his identity, and accepts the judgment and punishment he had imposed on the culprit before he knew; (2) through the violent actions of the sailors, the ship owner acknowledges his limitations; and (3) the prisoner is dragged from the cave into the world of sunlight, exposed to the truth and returns to the cave to deliberate with others to come out. Hence, all three cases show the process of civic deliberation is achieved through community.
Oedipus at first finds the implications of killing his father and sleeping with his mother difficult to tolerate as a factual manifestation of his past. He disputes the fact that he had caused such disorder and ignores any reasoning that would illustrate his egregious actions. As the worthy king he believes himself to be, he advocates against anyone who would convict him of such crime when he states, “Learn then —you won’t convict me as a murderer” (Plato 114). For Socrates, Oedipus would be a sightless individual, who “is not capable of doing what some people promise. They claim to introduce knowledge into the mind which doesn’t have it, as if they were introducing sight into eyes which are blind” (Plato 245). Socrates conveys that a citizen is unable to be deliberated if he cannot accept his identity and knowledge the truth.
After Oedipus accepts that he is the murderer and fully admits that he has committed the unforgivable crime, he states, “I’ll tell you. I murdered and destroyed him, caught by doom, but clean under the law; I came to this in ignorance” (Sophocles 180). With the help of the community in order to illustrate his misbehavior, Oedipus becomes aware of his mistakes, and accepts his identity and acts on it. He relinquishes the throne by blinding himself, and says, “It was Apollo, my friends, Apollo, who fulfilled my evil, these my evil sufferings. But the murderous hand that struck me was one’s...

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