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Reality Of The Shadows: The Allegory Of The Cave

1157 words - 5 pages

Philosophers are often tempted to find out the hidden meanings behind the apparent reality. A lot of valuable contributions to that particular philosophical topic were made by Plato. Much of contemporary philosophy is still being based upon what he had left behind. Also, many other themes developed by philosophers can be related to Plato`s vision of reality and form. William Goulding in his essay, ‘Thinking as a Hobby’ assigns three grades to thinkers based on their understanding of the world and their perceptions of truth. The truth in Goulding`s (2004) writings can, conveniently, be related to the truth in Plato`s work, as the end meaning and the thematic vision is similar in nature. Goulding argues that detachment from the popular perception of reality and the ability to create new ideas takes an individual to the grade-one level of thinking, while blindly following the norms would be an attribute of grade-three thinkers. Similarly, in the ‘Allegory of the Cave’, Plato narrates that once a prisoner had been freed, he understands the reality behind the shadows.
In this context, it is crucial to understand Goulding`s attribution of grades to the people. His obsession with ‘thinking’ led him to the conclusion that he himself cannot think at all. It was back in school when he observed the statuettes of his headmaster who had asked him, “Don`t you ever think at all?’. He sought inspiration from his teachers to initiate the process of thinking, which seems too complex at the time. He was even more confused when he realized that those who claimed to think themselves exhibited self destructive behavior for instance drinking, or staring at attractive women. These kinds of people are attributed as grade three thinkers, who according to Goulding are “all shouting the same thing, all warming their hands at the fire of their own prejudices”. He then says that grade two thinkers are self-contradictory as he demonstrated in conversation with Ruth who was a Methodist by religion and followed all its ideals blindly. He proved himself to be a grade two thinker by arguing and questioning everything she had to say to try to convert him into being religious. It was when he met the German Professor Einstien who had fled from the Nazis that he claims to have understood what grade-one thinkers would be like. These people, quite rare in existence, question the norms and value the truth as opposed to perception and thus, their lives are characterized by wisdom, truth and knowledge. They have an ability not only to destroy, but also to create ideas. Also, by the end of the essay Goulding writes: “I dropped my hobby and turned professional” which gives an impactful message that grade one thinkers find very hard to survive in the real world.
Goulding`s sense of different types of thinkers can be related to Plato`s idea of truth. In the Allegory of a Cave, Plato narrates a dialogue between his brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates. The dialogue depicts a story where...

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