english paper

Topics: Truth, Knowledge, Plato Pages: 3 (1244 words) Published: December 3, 2013

Will Durant, a U.S author and historian, writes, “Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” This means that all the knowledge people once had is misleading to what the truth really is. Similarly, in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and Frederick Douglass’s “Learning to Read and Write” a painful process of gaining knowledge through all the ignorance is described. Plato describes a prisoner going on a journey to gain knowledge that is behind him, after he was stuck staring at a wall of shadows his whole life. He goes back to tell the other prisoners of his discoveries and they want to kill him. Douglass is a slave who learns to read and write, going through stages to achieve each step. As he begins gaining knowledge he finds the truth about slavery which startles him. Socrates’ idea that gaining knowledge is a difficult journey to undertake because by doing so it changes the way people see the world, as proven by Douglass’ experiences.

In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, Socrates illustrates a metaphorical story about attaining knowledge. He describes a cave with men who are chained, prisoners of the cave. They face a wall; that is all they can see because they cannot move their heads. They cannot even look behind them to see a walkway and a fire. As a person passes on the walkway, a shadow is projected onto the wall in front of the prisoners; this is all they know. Only the shadows are what is real to them because it’s all they have ever known. Socrates says, “How could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?” (Plato 479). The main point is that people cannot understand anything except what is being projected right in front of them. Socrates’ point is that society has a limited understanding of knowledge, and is ignorant about what is beyond the surroundings.

To acquire knowledge of the truth beyond the cave, one prisoner is freed. As his eyes adjust to the light, he starts to see the real...
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