Monday, February 21, 2011
Today we learned more about Plato and his rhetoric against rhetoric and poetry. We watched a video called the allegory of the cave by Plato. The video shows a group of four people in a cave that know nothing else but what is brought before them. They are chained and yet they seem content. One day one of them is released into the light of day. He cannot believe what he sees in this new world and he is grateful for he thinks back to his existence in the cave and how restricted he was from all that could be known. He was exposed for so many years to only one layer of existence, now he holds witness to a new one. He feels pity for those left in the cave. He tries to enlighten them of what he has witnessed and they laugh at him. They do not care to try to escape from the cave for this new world would mean that everything they know means nothing and rather than face the truth they remain in denial.
There are a few quotes from the film that I found very interesting:
“Better to be the poor servant of a poor master and to endure anything, rather than think as they do, and live after they manner”
This means that their existence is vacant, and void of true meaning, and therefore their existence is worthless.
“It is the task of the enlightened not only to ascend, to learning, and to see the good but to be willing to descend again to those prisoners and to share their troubles and their honors whether they are worth having or not, and this they must do even with the prospect of death. They should give of their help to one another wherever each class is able to help the community.”
A statement made by one who is considered by many to be enlightened may be held as truth, when actually it is a mere opinon that contains possibility.
Karl Marx said, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”
One should give to the community, but first they must develop themselves. They must be given the freedom to discover their talents and pursue their dreams. They must aim to be as successful as they can with the talents they have acquired while living a free life. Giving to the community should never be forced; it is appreciated most when given freely.
Ben Franklin said, “‘I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.’
Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766”
This statement sounds good as well, but it won't work everywhere. Other factors must be in place first such as: good moral values, security from crime, plenty of natural resources, education towards a trade. His statement may work well in America but not so much in Haiti.
These are two very different views on how a society should be. The views were spoken by two men considered by many to be enlightened ones. These statements may be considered by many as a new layer of truth when actually they are more like layers of realities possibilities.
The man that was freed to see outside of the cave only saw one layer of realities possibilities. He saw one landscape, one terrain, a body of water, some trees, a few species of wildlife, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the sky. This is what he reported to the other three left in the cave, and it is only one layer of realities possibilities. The world is not static, it is ever changing, and there are always new layers to discover. Even the cave itself is a layer, and each layer is very limited. The man that had left the cave was not enlightened by all that reality holds; he was only exposed to another layer of realities possibilities.
Perhaps what Plato was suggesting is to never be closed minded and unwilling to listen to what one believes possible, and if one believes, he must never be afraid to share.
Whether we like it or not, we all live in a “cave”. We will never be able to escape from it. We can only expand it by exposing layer upon layer of realities possibilities. In some strange way we need the “cave” for it helps us to make sense of our existence. If we were unable to make sense of things life would be nothing more than perpetual confusion that is void of all meaning.
Carl Marx Quote taken from: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/k/karl_marx.html#ixzz1EWybu6Vx
Ben Franklin Quote taken from:
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Allegory of the cave:
Churchill Films, Produced by Nick Bosustow and C.B Wismar