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By natenartest Jul 24, 2013 661 Words
In the allegory of the cave, Plato describes several men who have been chained all their lives with only a wall in front of them in which shadows are displayed and only echoes are heard. These men believe these shadows and echoes to be the totality of real things in the world without any inclination to question the veracity of their perception. Once one of them is released from the chains and comes out of the cave, he is welcomed into a new reality, one that supersedes the misapprehension of the shadows as an extension of reality. In doing this, Plato attempts to describe the awareness of how our mind works. Because of the ensuing inferences that are drawn from his allegory, I will argue that Plato falls short of a comprehensive depiction. To determine whether Plato makes an accurate account we must bring to consideration how we define truth. This is because Plato is postulating in his assertion that truth is relativistic, essentially, that there is a truth independent of people’s held knowledge or perception. The men who are chained perceive what they believe to be the true nature of reality but as it is later suggested, this is an incorrect subjective belief. The man who is able to step outside of the cave comes to the knowledge of an objective truth, one that Plato indeed implies to be absolute unlike the shadowy deception. The men who remain chained will never become aware of this truth because their awareness is subjugated within the walls of their mind and suggesting otherwise would be insinuating and as foolishness to them. From the inferences that are drawn from Plato’s allegory, we can refute his proposition. If the awareness of the men who are chained is to be considered as truth, being that it is all which they perceive, and concurrently proposing the cognizance of the man who steps outside the cave as equally true, we can properly affirm Plato’s allegory to assume that all truth must be relative. This is because what is true to the men inside the cave is in vast distinction to the awareness of the man who becomes unchained. However, that very statement, if held to its own standard, is clearly false in its very nature. If we consider the statement all truth to be relative we must further deduce that the truthfulness of that very claim to also be relative. Therefore it cannot be an absolute statement itself because the negation of it can also be true (all truth is not relative). Hence, we would be making a claim that can be both simultaneously true and false at the same time, however contradictory.

Moreover, Plato's allegory does not succeed in describing how the mind works because it fails in making a distinction between what one believes and what one knows. Believing something to be true holds no bearing on the actual and existential truthfulness of the very thing that is believed. On the contrary, having knowledge of a truthful claim cannot be refuted because knowledge implies facts which are existentially true in nature. Because the chained men have not known anything outside the shadow figures they lack discernment. Thus, their false belief should be considered as knowledge although their introspection is incomplete. One may argue subsequently that the awareness of the man who comes out of the cave is the absolute reality. The same argument could be used however to repudiate this claim because there could lay a deeper reality beyond what is seen outside the cave and so forth. Hence, truth can then be viewed as the knowledge one gains along life’s journey, ultimately subjective based on the perceiver, whether tied down in chains and able to see only shadows or given the chance to come and see outside the cave; it is the awareness of the mind which looks in hindsight of the things which it has perceived and a by product of one’s perception.

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