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What exactly is Plato's ideal of the philosophical or examined life - Essay Example

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What exactly is Plato's ideal of the philosophical or examined life

These teachings are still studied today proving the amount of influence that this ancient Greek philosopher had during his time as he provided the world with new avenues of thought. His views on life tended to concentrate on factors such as the acquiring of knowledge and truth, the governance of the society as well as societal structure. Plato offers these musings via a number of dialogues and it has been said that some of his views were actually those of Socrates – his teacher which can be a safe assumption to make as many individuals are influenced by their mentors in their on works. Plato’s ideal of the physical life had one main theme in particular that recurred in may of his dialogues concerning the true nature of objects in existence and what an individual’s perception of this truth may be. He argues that what can be seen is not the exact reality and thus it can be stated that those who only use the sense of their surroundings to establish reality are off the mark and are only left with a vague idea of what the real truth is. Plato argues that something does not have to be tangible or visible for it to be real and those who believe so have in effect limited themselves from gaining the real truth (Plato 50). This concept is promoted in a number of his dialogues and is can be clearly seen in his allegory of the cave. In this analogy, Plato argues that the world that can not be seen is the realest of them all and likens those whose belief is governed by what they can see in their surroundings to people who are living in a cave. The people living in the cave are only able to see shadows that are caused by the real objects but since this is all that they have known their whole life, they perceive these shadows to be the true forms of the objects and thus are blinded from seeing the reality of the situation. Plato then goes on describe one who gains enlightenment as a person who leaves the cave and for the first time sees the objects that have been the cause of the shadows that others have perceived to be the real thing thus breaking the shackles of ignorance. This analogy promotes the essence of thinking outside the box instead of blindly accepting what is put before you as the gospel truth and reality of life (Plato 60). Plato however also describes the hard time that an individual leaving the cave has when achieving this state of realization explaining why it is not a level that is easily attainable by everyone. These hardships are described by the individual’s first experience when he leaves the cave and his eyes hurt from exposure to the large amount of light that is outside. This can be seen as a depiction of when an individual is first exposed to the truth but has a difficult time due to the amount of time he has spent knowing its shadow to be the reality. However, after a fair amount of time the individual’s eyes begin to adjust and he is able to finally see things clearly i.e. exposure to reality (Plato 65). Through this analogy, it is seen that Plato advocates for an examination of the facts that people are presented with and a search for a greater truth in order to acquire the final reality in life. Plato also mentions how individual’s who have acquired such enlightenment are crucified by society when they try to come back and help others achieve the same level of truth and are perceived to be outsiders who do not know what they talking about. Plato argues that the material world is merely a shadow of the real world in itself and that one cannot gain knowledge on reality of life if they gladly accept what is presented towards them without any questions. He promotes a train of original thought that can only be brought upon by a ...Show more


The practical relevance in Plato’s teachings can be found in his ideals of how outlooks should be approached, allowing room for the development of truth. This means that facts should not just be accepted and shelved as an undeniable truth…
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What exactly is Platos ideal of the philosophical or examined life essay example
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