The moist air of the cave hovers in a homeostatic manner around the man’s conditioned skin. He sits, staring at the flat, cold surface of rock in front of him. Nothing that he sees surprises him. He just stares blankly at the recurrent shadows dancing in a dull glow. He is motionlessly caught in a state of a calm, content trance. The cold chains around his neck match the vacancy of life his face. The only expression seen is a small rising in the corners of the man’s mouth, producing a strangely content smirk. Nothing is heard except a constant, repetitive drip of water forming a stalagmite deep within the cave. Suddenly a voice awakens the man out his trance. The voice whispers into the man’s ear, “I can show you a path to knowledge and bring you out of your cave and into the sun. I can show you a life without the chains, a life of absolute freedom. All you have to do is follow me.” The man sits, contemplating the reliability and safety of this advice. These cave walls are all he has known. Why should he want to leave the familiar to follow an untrustworthy voice to what he claims to be a better existence? Suddenly the world around him collapses. He is confused by what the voice says, and is driven emphatic by his curiosity of what this path to the truth of life really is.
In “The Allegory of the Cave,” Plato addresses one of the most controversial and recurrent themes of human existence. He is the philosophical voice that tempts the man of the cave to join him in a journey to enlightenment. He views most of the population as prisoners, chained in a dark cave, watching shadows dance on the wall. They do not care what causes the shadows, nor do they try to resist the chains that hold their head in place. If someone were to break free, they would see that the shadows are the effect of people dancing around a fire. If they dared to venture even further then they would eventually find there way out of the cave and see the sun, the ultimate truth, for the first time.
Charles Ives Charles Ives is known in our day as the "Father of American Music," but in his day, he was known just like everyone else- an ordinary man living his life. He was born in Danbury, Connecticut on October 20, 1894 (Stanley 1) to his mother, Sarah Hotchkiss Wilcox Ives and father, George White Ives (A Life With Music, Swafford 4). His father was renowned for being the Union's youngest ...
The allegory may become more proximal and accessible when compared to today’s pop culture, blockbuster hit, “The Matrix.” Plato’s prisoners become the people trapped inside the matrix, ignorant of the truth and content with the illusionary life around them. Eventually, one man strives to break free of the “chains” of the Matrix and to see the truth. This man, Neo, continues his search until he sees first hand that he is merely hooked up to a machine. He learns that everything in his life, every “shadow on the wall,” is not the truth but an illusion created by artificially intelligent machines. Once he has seen the light, he feels that it is his destiny to bring more people, or prisoners, to the truth and take them out of their illusionary walls. The connection, however, is not perfect. The truth that Plato speaks of is good but bad in the Matrix. It may also be hard to view Keanu Reeves as an ancient philosopher, but one can begin to see Plato’s meaning a little clearer.
Cinema is not the only medium in which one can see Plato’s ideas reiterated. Every news station is centered on this idea of seeking, finding, and presenting the truth to their audiences. This has become even more immediate after the attack on the World Trade Center. Every day, policemen and fire fighters struggle to uncover the victims’ bodies and find their true identity in order to give them a respectable and honorable burial. The growing scare of anthrax is another example. The millions of threats involving anthrax that the FBI receives must be analyzed and labeled as dangerous or just another hoax. If they mistakenly dismiss one threat as untruthful, millions of lives could be at stake. Even the American people have to decide what is the truth and what isn’t. It may be as trivial as avoiding the mall on Halloween due to a rumored attack, but it is still presents a daily decision of finding truth.
Plato Vs. Nietzsche: The Nature of Good Plato and Nietzsche have opposing views on the nature of good. Plato, as demonstrated in the "The Cave" and "Apology," believes that Good is absolute. This means that he is of the opinion that there is one perfect version of Good for all people, whether they are rich or poor, powerful or weak. However, Nietzsche believes in the relative nature of good. He ...
Plato’s message seems simple—quit being lazy and seek the truth—but the answer to a happy life is not so quaint. Living with knowledge of the truth, whatever that may be, is not always a desirable position. The old saying, ignorance is bliss, is often very true. Friedrich Nietzsche agrees in his essay, “The Use and Abuse of History,” that, “we wish rather today to be joyful in our unwisdom and have a pleasant life as active men who go forward and respect the course of the world.” Nietzsche has his own explanation for why man wishes to find happiness in watching the shadows dance on the walls of the cave:
“…There was once a man who walked sternly and proudly through this world, another who had pity and loving-kindness, another who lived him contemplation, but all leaving one truth behind them—that his life is the fairest who thinks least about life.”
Despite this one truth, Nietzsche does not mean to say that our animalistic instinct to simply stay alive is what we should dwell on in our lives. He merely points out the most common reasoning for not searching the truth: it’s easier to not think about it.
The happiness found in ignorance is not the only reason why the chained men of today’s society don’t break free and seek the sun. There is, and always has been, an enormous amount of confusion on what the truth, that we are supposed to seek, is. Even Nietzsche claimed, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” His idea of the truth was an ability to live with a balanced perception of the past and future. Plato’s definition seems to be nothing more than discovering philosophy, Greek for “love of wisdom.” It seems that the search for the truth is therefore, a search for an ambiguous prize that can be found by any of a million different paths. It is very easy to understand why the desirable state of mind is often, “life is the fairest who thinks least about life,” as Nietzsche suggests.
Still, if one dismisses this journey towards truth as unimportant than they are greatly mistaken. A problem so relevant and recurrent in our society, as well as throughout history, cannot be forgotten easily. Ancient philosophers and artists as well as today’s screenwriters have struggled with the idea of how to go about finding the truth. The subject of many of Shakespeare’s plays was centered on the idea of mistaken identity and seeking to discover the truth of a question that haunts the protagonist. Hamlet tells the story of a prince who is emphatically obsessed with finding the true killer of his father. Hamlet is told by a ghost that his uncle killed his father, and he attempts to test his uncle in order to bring the truth to light throughout the rest of the play. Shakespeare’s path toward the truth in this play is not uncommon. Neo, in “The Matrix” is also pointed to the truth by a spiritual figure in the form of an oracle. There are millions of examples that may be used as evidence to show that the search towards the truth is still proximal and relevant. Every religion offers a path towards their definition of the truth.
Oedipa Oedipa is in search of something that she doesn t want to find, and that is the truth about this WASTE system. She stumbles onto all these connections leading her to almost devote her life in the search for these answers. She finally has a revelation about what she has been doing, is she in search of the truth or in search for her sanity. When she does confront Dr. Hilarious about her ...