Believing is Seeing Essay

Believing is Seeing Essay

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In Plato’s The Republic, Book seven, he discusses the cliché “seeing is believing”. By Plato’s use of symbols to help explain his point of ignorance in truth due to our traditions, society’s constant fear of change and our natural ability to question what we see. In this allegory, the depictions of humans as they are chained, to only learn by sight. Plato toy’s with the notion of what would happen to people should they embrace the concepts of philosophy, to become enlightened by it, to see things as they truly are. As we have seen in class, Plato’s theory did not only present itself in his allegory, but also in the Wachowski brothers’ hit-film, The Matrix. In the film, the protagonist, Neo, suffers from a similar difficulty of adapting to reality, or the truth, which we will see later on. Throughout this paper, it will be argued that, Plato’s use of these symbols, he ultimately concludes that true knowledge is knowledge that we have of what we see and not knowledge of what we see, as was the case of the prisoners in The Allegory of the Cave.
Upon beginning Plato’s seventh book of The Republic, the reader is immediately faced with a mental picture. The theory of the cave is described rather clearly by Socrates early on. At first read, the concept of the cave becomes harder to follow as the discussion went on. One can easily grasp Socrate’s idea of the cave by simply following along with a drawing of the cave. For the purpose of this paper, I have included a diagram of the cave to better explain the arguments (Appendix A).

Plato’s concept of The Allegory of the Cave is another idea based on his theory of forms. The theory argues that our knowledge of reality/forms is not real knowledge; only our knowledge of these fo...


... middle of paper ...


...st, do nothing but confuse and shock the prisoner (516a-b).
Moreover, the reality, or “truth” that the prisoner had known before, would be completely lost to him once he is to the “other” world. The shadows he had once known, the sounds he would have been used to, are completely different. Instead of seeing shadows, he is now seeing colour, where there were muffled, echoed noise, there is now clear and audible words and sentences. Actual sounds of the things he once saw only their shadows and now the shadows turned to tangible objects, with real names and purposes. This concept alone was one of the most interesting in the entire allegory. What the prisoner once knew, must feel like figments of his imagination. All of those objects now serve a role and purpose in society, but before they were just projections on a wall of things he could truly never see.

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