5/04/2012

The Beginning of Time

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Our society changes over time, but much of the information which was important in the past, is still in tact today as well, in some cases even more significant. This is shown true in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”. Plato’s primary messages still describes our political and physiological matters of today, even though the dialogue of his writing may be complex and difficult to interpret, for language usage has changed over the years.


Plato’s home of Athens, which was once an independent city state with a great deal of power, suffered terrible defeat and humiliation in the Peloponnesian War. Class politics had turned the oligarchs and democrats against each other, making the power of the government constantly changing. In today’s society, we still suffer from disorder and turmoil. One specific example is the United States struggling with terrorism. Our country has tried to deal with making our homeland safe again and uniting as one stronger nation, while still trying to prevent future attacks. But, while we practice democracy like Athens did at some points, we do allow our women to vote and everyone has a say in what happens with our government and how it is run, by voting. We also have many rights, which are in the Constitution, freedom of speech being a major one. In Athens if you disagreed with the government then you could be executed, like Socrates was in B.C. Since Plato admired and respected Socrates, his death helped Plato question Athens government and search for the improvement of society.


In writing, “The Allegory of the Cave”, Plato makes many strong points in helping us to understand the principles of politics and philosophy dealing with society. One point is that the ability to learn is already in yourself and is your choice whether or not you use it, and you must choose to ascend to make yourself change. “Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already” (Pg. 4). Not only does this quote suggest that every individual can change if he has the desire to do so, but also, it takes the whole soul to find the true meaning of knowledge. One of the strongest points that Plato makes in the “Allegory of the Cave” is that an individual should not go back to what he was before, and be selfless and use the knowledge that they have acquired, to help others. “They must continue to ascend until they arrive at the good; but when they have ascended and seen enough we must not allow them to do as they do now” (Pg. 44). The prisoners should not remain in the reality world, for they must come down to help others see the light and attain the knowledge they must learn. “They remain in the upper world, but this must not be allowed; they must be made to descend again among the prisoners in the den” (Pg. 44). As individuals attain higher knowledge, they must come back down to the cave and use their insight to help those who won’t or can’t see the light for themselves. Plato tries to show that a society cannot be happy if anyone is above everyone else, because happiness lies within the whole State. The knowledge is not simply to help or please them, but it is about bring the State together as one.


Plato’s ideas are very significant and can relate to my life. An example would be my role as a senior captain on the Varsity Softball team in high school. If myself and the other seniors hadn’t shown leadership then our team would not have come together. It is vital that I show teammates how to fix what they are doing wrong and show them what to do to improve to make themselves better. If I were to keep my knowledge to myself then our team wouldn’t improve and never come together as one. We all needed to have the same knowledge of the game, so that we know each other’s capabilities so that we could succeed in winning. This proves that Plato’s points have relevance in everyone’s lives; it is just a matter if you are willing to accept it and show others what you know.


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Although Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” had many strong points and valuable lessons to learn, there is one idea that is most meaningful to me. “You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a wellordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and god, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life” (Pg. 45). This passage is saying that as a ruler, you must make your people have a better life, or as good a life, as you have. If you have that, then you will have a society, which can work together, because everyone is full of virtue and wisdom. The reason why I will remember this is because rich doesn’t mean that you have money necessarily, but you can be rich in different ways, one way being rich of virtue and wisdom. This is a line that can teach everyone how to better his or her lives and come together as a State, or society.


Plato’s writing describes the function that reason has to keep an honorable civilization together. His ideas about government and justice are shown in his writing, and include a mental picture of an idyllic political community.








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