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Deciphering Quotes - Assignment Example

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Deciphering Quotes

This eternal failure depresses people. The whole area of morality and justice involves official laws and courts, which can constrain people with more and more detailed prohibitions. Perhaps officialdom brings out the worst in people, and laws which are intended to be helpful are often used as weapons for people to humiliate and punish each other in public, rather than sorting out their differences in an informal discussion. The last statement about industry and profit is a very good one for our present times because it highlights the danger that comes when people build up huge amounts of wealth and possessions. This enrages people who are poor, and encourages them to steal from the rich, because the gap between rich and poor is so extreme. It seems that Lao-tzu recommends a quiet and modest life, in which each person lives by his or her own conscience, looking after self and others in a gentle way, rather than chasing after high ideals or great wealth which do not make people happy. 2 Plato: “The prison house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows.” In this quotation Plato explains the true meaning of his famous allegory of the cave. He has just been describing a “prison house” which is a cave in which human being are chained facing one wall, unable to see each other, or look in any other direction except at the wall in front of them. This makes me think of the way that many people have very fixed ideas about things, and can only see one perspective. In this allegory, however, the intention is not to point out the error of one particular way of thinking, but instead Plato wants us to think about the limitations of human understanding in general. The prisoners can only see shadows which are reflected on the wall, because they are physically constrained to do so. This is an analogy for the way that human beings are forced to apprehend the world through their physical senses. They see some of the attributes of things in the world around them, but they cannot see others, for example the naked eye cannot see microscopic creatures or distant planets, but these objects do exist. The notion of the “ascent of the soul into the intellectual world”, which Plato represents as a journey out of the cave and its shadows into the full light and space of the world outside, shows the huge benefit that people gain when they use their mental faculties to complement the partial understanding that they gain from their senses. In a way this journey of the soul is a definition of philosophy, and an encouragement for students of Plato to step outside the purely physical dimension and think about higher things. 3 Aristotle: “The study of humankind requires awareness of people’s differences of background, education, habit, temperament, and other similar factors.” Aristotle is making a very important point about human nature, which is the great diversity that exists in society. It may be that Aristotle is arguing against the kind of philosophy that generalizes about human beings, as if they were all the same, or as if there is one model of ...Show more

Summary

Deciphering Quotes. 1 Lao-tzu: “throw away holiness and wisdom, and people will be a hundred times happier. Throw away morality and justice and people will do the right thing, throw away industry and profit and there won’t be any thieves.” This quotation does not seem to make sense on first reading but after a time of reflection it begins to reveal a deeper meaning than the surface contradictions…
Author : bogankrystal
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