Plato’s allegory illustrates various types of symbolism that he uses to guide readers on the state of perception. The cave represents the surrounding physical reality and ignorance since those trapped in the cave exist by accepting that reality. The darkness further demonstrates ignorance in the cave that prevents them from knowing the actual objects that cast shadows, assuming that the shadow is an accurate representation of the items (Bloom, p.373). Additionally, the men are bound by chains to prevent them from leaving the cave, which symbolizes their imprisonment in ignorance that keeps them away from the truth. The prisoner who obtains freedom reflects individuals who know the physical world is superficial truth while the sun is wisdom. Plato’s “Cave of Ignorance” can be related to the theory of forms that suggests that the physical world is not a reality as it is seen and that there are deeper meanings to it. The symbolism in the allegory serves to describe this way of looking at the world.
In Socrates’ Apology, Plato gives an account of events at a hearing where Socrates is being charged with several offences against the Greek government. In his defence, Socrates delves into answering the axiological question. He seeks the appropriate definition of what is good that will prevent one from being in his position. Socrates begins by saying, “Socrates is guilty of corrupting the youth” and asks Meletus, his accuser, whether there is great importance in having the young being as good as possible (Plato, p. 9). Further, Socrates notes that Athens has possibly nurtured the young into good people except him, which is why he is being accused of corrupting them (Plato, p.12). This line of questioning is meant for Meletus to examine his thoughts and assert his accusations. Elsewhere, Socrates asked Meletus whether bad people harm those around them and the good ones improve their peers, to which Meletus agrees and adds that Socrates harmed the young deliberately (Plato, p.11). Socrates is convinced that he acts like a good man, something Meletus disagrees with. He steadfastly holds this belief of what good is up to the end despite the impending punishment by death.
Lover of wisdom: In simple terms, philosophy is the love of wisdom. Therefore, a lover of wisdom lies in the potential for an individual to question and comprehend the questions and successfully seek answers. The nature of philosophy requires one to exercise autonomy in rationality, which is the ability to find solutions and how one comes up with such answers (Jenkins, p.79). Philosophers like Aristotle and Plato can be said to be lovers of wisdom mainly not by the answers they provided but by how they approached solutions by exploiting their reasoning capacities in extraordinary ways.
A seeker after truth: The nature of philosophy also entails seeking the truth by questioning and criticality. Questioning prompts a philosopher to try to comprehend and attain truth by asking appropriate questions. Socrates noted that the value and understanding of life’s meaning are born by questioning (Jenkins, p.128). Additionally, criticality demands that philosopher filters or test their mind instead of accepting them right away. This way, one is able to reveal the bad and good sides of thought.
Making sense of things in a rational way: Being rational is exercising reason in the face of a problem in a bid to find a solution. Philosophy does not only engage the mind in endeavours but also engages in reasoning.
John Stuart Mill had a solid opinion on the freedom of thought he spoke about after noticing there was the suppression of speech and freedom of thought. He noted that it was evil to suppress the expression of an opinion as it is a robbery of the human race, including the existing generation, persons in disagreement with the opinion, and the opinion holders. He argued that in case an opinion was right, its suppression took away people’s opportunity to obtain the truth in exchange for error. If wrong, people would not discern the more apparent impression of truth that results in its clash with error (Mill, p.19). Mill establishes two principles that summarize his thought about free thought that: the interference with the freedoms of any member of a society is a guarantee for the end of humanity and that the only circumstance when power should be used to limit a person is when harm to other persons may occur (Mill, p. 13).
Mill’s justification for free speech is based on a personal conviction that thoughts and opinions that occupy the minds of the minority in a population as a particular period ought to be given a chance to be heard. He, therefore, does not base his argument on the desirability of individual input towards a discourse. Mill plays a monumental role in shaping the understanding of philosophy’s role in both private and public discourse. Through his insights, one gets to know how a society should function with emphasis on individuality and exercise of freedoms with a limitation where a threat is posed to others.
According to Mill, an individual’s liberty is intimately linked to the utilitarian goal that proposes the overall welfare and that it should be safeguarded even from voluntary denial (Mill, p.25). He further clarifies that individual liberty does not entail the freedom to give themselves up as slaves. Consequently, truth is an essential aspect for Mill and can also be considered an element of utility. For this, he believes that dissenting opinions must be expressed in spite of whether they are false, true, or in-between as they help in revealing the truth. This “peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion” robs the human race of what could have been an opportunity for discovery (Mill, p.19).
Plato was able to trace earthly items back to their ideas and arranged them in levels from the lowest idea to the highest. He identified three ideas that include the being, truth, and good. The being is unity; the truth is opposed to just appearance and good as the opposite of evil (Cengage). These transcendentals imply that being is an integration of the three features. There thus exists an interconnectedness in life with each aspect fulfilling the other.
Bloom, Allan David, and Allan David. The republic. Basic Books, 1908.
Plato, By. Apology. BookRix, 2019.
Jenkins, Michelle Kristine. “Seekers of Wisdom, Lovers of Truth: A Study of Plato’s Philosopher.” (2010).
Mill, John Stuart. “On liberty.” A selection of his works. Palgrave, London, 1966. 1-147.
Cengage. “Transcendentals | Encyclopedia.Com.” Encyclopedia.Com, 2020, https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/transcendentals.Order Now