Humanity is in a constant process to better themselves, as a result of their self-transcending nature. This intuitive quality pushes the soul to speculate on virtue and therefore, think philosophically. Achieving the highest form of philosophical thought will only occur if the individual has first been engaged in Plato's Theory of Education.
Though Plato argued that “the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already” (VII), he also recognized that this education is a gradual process. This notion consists of several levels of thought and much like all educational systems, an individual cannot be expected to accomplish each level overnight. According to Plato's teacher and fellow philosopher, Socrates, educating youth in philosophy must be suitable to their age (492). Moreover, different teachers with different areas of expertise are required to aid the individual throughout the process.
Primarily, Plato's Theory of Education can be best described through his Metaphor of the Divided Line in books VI and VII of The Republic. This notion, according to Socrates, was separated into four divisions, each with its own mode of thought.
“At any rate, we are satisfied, as before, to have four divisions; two for intellect and two for opinion, and to call the first division science, the second understanding, the third belief, and the fourth perception of shadows” (525).
Each level consists of different concepts and approaches reason and analysis in extremely different manners. According to Socrates, through using this process, it became possible to reach a perfection of which all knowledge strives to achieve. This perfection is also referred to as the perception of the absolute good (531). However, this is not achieved without first mastering all four divisions of Plato's Theory of Education.
Regardless of location, financial status, or ethnicity, all individuals begin their philosophical journey in what Socrates referred to as the fourth level, perception of shadows. Similar to poets, their mode of thought is Imagining. Their conclusions are based wholly on opinions formed by what Socrates referred to as Images. These Images are shadows, reflections of physical objects. Furthermore, these Images can be easily described as speaking pictures or illusions. They do not equate with reality or with truth, leaving the soul in disorder. Despite the limitations of the fourth level in Plato's Theory of Education, it is also a necessary beginning. Learning is a gradual process consisting of small accomplishments, rather than large achievements. It is necessary for the individual to perceive the world in which they live through their imagination before they are able to rationally define the idea of good and absolute truth (523). Soon enough, the individual will surpass the constraints of the fourth level and move on to the next.
Upon the fourth level's completion, the individual will begin to perceive the visible world through their...