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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Before The Matrix, there was Plato's cave

I remember well the philosophy class I took devoted just to Plato's The Republic .... my teacher was Perry Weddle and my book was huge and green with tissue-papery pages. I loved that class and the bit about the cave - the nature of reality stuff.

What brings this up is an award-winning video I saw at Open Culture - a claymation explanation of Plato's allegory of the cave. But first, here's a bit from Wikipedia on it ....

The Allegory of the Cave .... is written as a fictional dialogue between Plato's teacher Socrates and Plato's brother Glaucon .... Plato imagines a group of people who have lived chained in a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to seeing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners. The Allegory is related to Plato's Theory of Forms, wherein Plato asserts that "Forms" (or "Ideas"), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. Only knowledge of the Forms constitutes real knowledge. In addition, the allegory of the cave is an attempt to explain the philosopher's place in society ...

And here's podcast from Philosophy Bites in which Simon Blackburn of Cambridge University explains what Plato meant.

The video :) ....


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