Intro to Political Theory
September 22, 2011
The purpose of the Myth of Er is to emphasize one of the points that Plato has been making throughout this whole book, that philosophy, or the quest for knowledge is essential in order to have a successful existence, either as a person or a group of people. One cannot work towards something until and unless he knows what that thing is and how to get there. It is only possible to study philosophy up to the point where one fully understands the Form of the Good, which is the ultimate form. Because of there being a limit to how much knowledge one can gain, it is not ridiculous to assume that one is able to reach that level of knowledge. Even though it’s almost impossible to perceive that there is an ultimate form of good, it is not unattainable because everything in existence is striving towards that. The catalyst that moves a soul to that goal is what philosophy is. Philosophy is the pathway to get to the ultimate kind of life: an untroubled and satisfying existence. This myth is meant for humankind in general. Humans have a tendency to act on self-destructive behavior such as succumbing to their wrongful pleasures (Plato 303). The wrongful pleasures are those that destroy a man’s character and make his soul unjust such as greed, gluttony, etc. In the group of people, or a city, the same characteristics are found so the same means- philosophy- must be used to exorcise those faults. The reason that any man would go towards these evils is because he is not aware of the harm that they are capable of causing, or what the consequences of these actions will do to his soul. Philosophy, therefore, is supposed to be the bridge between the physical world, and the realm of true knowledge. Without contemplation there is no way to achieve true knowledge about anything. The study of philosophy goes beyond the superficial elements of everything and therefore forces the student to see more than just what seems to be...
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