38 thoughts on “SYLLABUS + First Readings (Plato’s “Allegory of The Cave” and “Meno”)

  1. Would i want to be released from the cave? Yes i would want to be released from the cave beause i would want to see whats out there. Instead of being chained in a dark whole where all i see are shadows of things i can’t see.

  2. Would i want to be released from the cave? Yes i would want to see and hear what is around me rather than allowing the confines of the cave to prevent me from knowing what is really causing the shadows or echoes. I can only imagine and there would be no room to learn and see new things.

  3. What is the cave in our world? The cave in our world is our own minds. It imprisons us because we fear change; we are afraid of what new discoveries can do to the lives we’ve been so accustomed to. For example, those pioneers who wanted to seek more (Galileo, Aristotle, Darwin and even Jesus) have been forced to recant because the authorities feared.
    -Lina Hong :)

  4. Would you want to be released from the cave? Why or why not?
    Yes I would like to be released because in the cave you are chained to one perception. This world is full of truth that can not be viewed from one perception. Life unchained, life outside the cave, life as you see it is what i view as desireable. Knowledge is power.


  5. Q4. Who has the power to shape your ideas and beliefs? In what ways is this good and in what ways is it not so good?
    I believe that factors such as family, educators and religion have the power to shape one’s ideas and beliefs. When I state family, I am referring to one’s parents. When growing up as a child, my mother taught me how to act in certain situations as well as lessons regarding manners and respect. Such ideas of right and wrong were practiced and carried throughout my childhood. Educators such as professors and teachers have power to shape one’s ideas and beliefs. They teach and expect their students to learn as well as challenge their minds. Another overarching power that has the ability to shape my beliefs is religion. In some ways, these factors which influence our ideas and beliefs have positive outcomes. Outside influences enable people to expand their own knowledge of concepts and search for more answers. In another light, such influences may prove to have negative effects. If one follows and believes in everything they are told, they may become closed minded to what other people have to say.

    – G.E.M.

  6. Would you want to be released from the cave? Why or why not?

    I would definitely want to be released from the cave. At first, it would be hard to even comprehend the fact that there is more to life than the projections of figures onto the cave wall. However, the realization of this new perception of life would enlighten me and make me want to seek more . Once the knowledge of the truth or the “actual” world is learned, it cannot be unlearned. I would never want to be tied down to one conception of life.

  7. It was interesting to be able to actually read The Allegory of the Cave. Prior to attending this class I had a discussion about this with my brother in law who is from Greece and he actually showed me the same video that we saw in class. I found it interesting to be able to discuss about it in class as well.

    Would you want to be released from the cave? Why or why not?
    I would like to be released from the cave because I would want to be able to explore what is out there. As children we are protected from the “real world” by our parents. Once we become of age that protection begins to loosen up and we are let go to be able to explore the “real world”. There is always a desire to know more and to be able to go through experiences that shapes our thinking and way of life.
    As Plato stated what is behind those shadows and echos, is not less real than those shadows and perhaps reality is not real. Descartes tried to find something that was real by coming up with a theory that if anything is dubitable it is false. Ultimately there where many things that could be doubted. As a result, he concluded that the only thing that cannot be doubted is our existence, “I think, therefore I am”.

  8. It is quite disputable whether being released from the cave is indeed worth it. According to Socrates, after a soul makes its ascend to the light and dwells in the intellectual world, it has to go back! It has to return to the cave and continue living there among other prisoners. Isn’t that unjust and cruel? That enlightened soul has already seen better world, has gone far beyond vague shadows and echoed sounds. It has stepped into the terra incognita, started exploring its beauty and diversity. When, all of a sudden, it is ordered back into the gloomy cave. This is a prison even worse that the first one. Those who have never left the cave, take their “life” for granted. They don’t realize it might differ and have nothing to compare it with. They enjoy what they do each and every day: just observe and compete in counting and measuring shadows. They are happy, being unaware of how miserable they actually are. Those who have been released and given a chance to look at the Sun, “stars and the spangled heaven”, will spend the rest of their lives adapting to the down-world, reminiscing what they’ve previously experienced in their “blessed journey upward”. Socrates mentions that those dweller-souls should pity their fellow-prisoners, when they should pity themselves instead.

  9. Would you want to be released from the cave? Why or why not?

    If I were to answer this question according to what I know from my life experience, I would have to say yes – absolutely and unequivocally yes (and I believe that everyone would). Knowledge and experience in any volume is valuable and I simply cannot imagine a world in which I would only know of shadows, “puppeteers”, and a fire. Not only would I only see these three things but also I would not even understand the mechanism behind shadows or light or fire. To me, not understanding something is a bit terrifying in its own right.
    However, this does not seem to be what the question is actually asking. The entire point of the dialogue is to see, in the abstract sense, that one who is a prisoner within the cave would have no knowledge at all about anything that went on outside of “the cave”, which really means “the world” to the prisoner themselves. In fact, it is an entirely logical assertion that the prisoner would not know that they were in a prisoner in a cave in the first place and the only way that they would go out of the cave would be to leave it unwillingly. There are a great many things that we take for granted, especially things such as reasoning or experience or knowledge, and when responding to this question one must understand that all of these do not exist to the prisoner.
    There is an easier question for us to answer along the same lines of Plato’s cave, one that is much more relatable to us. Paraphrased from some place that I don’t recall, it is this: Would you rather be a happy idiot since ignorance is bliss, or a miserable genius, burdened by a wealth of knowledge which includes knowing about the world failing around you? This is very similar real-world situation to the question at hand; surely, the similarities between the two are self-evident.
    Again, were I to answer the question with everything that I know now with all of my opinions and prejudices, I would rather be a miserable genius, simply because I greatly value knowledge. However, an idiot would not possess this value of knowledge, which I would hope all of us in the class do, and that option would be exempt from this question. So dwelling on this further, I feel that the only answer would be to prefer living as a happy idiot – I probably wouldn’t even know that I was an idiot in the first place.
    That’s all fine and good, but what’s important from this is that we can simply place this situation back into the context of “The Allegory of the Cave” and say with confidence that, in a life where I knew close to nothing, I would be extremely uncomfortable leaving that “nothing”. As a prisoner of the cave from the beginning of my life, I would not want to leave the cave, as there could not even be a cave for me to leave.

  10. Would I want to be released from the cave? In most cases, I would normally say, “Yes I would want to leave the cave because I would want to see what the outside of the cave looks like.” However, after thinking about it for a few minutes, I asked myself, “If I already have a way of life in the cave that I’ve grown used to for maybe decades, will I be able to adapt to the outside world quickly enough?” The answer I came up with is yes. I would still want to leave the cave because honestly, life inside the cave sounds like a really crappy one.

  11. (Question 3) Our knowledge is based on the experiences of other people. In order to make those experiences, people need to take action. Therefore, our knowledge is dependent on people’s actions. I always wondered where certain topics in school came from. I asked a few of my teachers in high school and all of their answers had one thing in common. The topic/information we were learning originated from historical people. They discovered new information based on what their experiences were like. Hopefully, we will also be influenced enough to take action and reveal more knowledge about the world.

  12. I would want to be released from the cave but one could argue that if you grew accustomed to the lifestyle in the cave or knew of no other life than what was in that cave; how would you know that there is greater things aside from life in that cave. In my opinion, life is not worth living if you are at a stand still for a long period of time, I would want to be released from the chains that were holding me back from moving. I’d want to be able to explore and achieve as much as possible rather than just sitting there in a blankness awaiting death, even if it meant hitting a stone wall and coming to find that there is no life beyond the cave.

  13. My answer is based on an experience my grandparents and parents went through. They were faced with making a decision to move to the states for a better lifestyle, or staying in their old country and living in a country that made it difficult to make a living, and the lifestyle wasn’t on the same level as it is in the states. But they were faced with the same problem, “would they want to be released from the cave?” they lived there and they know what its like to be there and then to move to another country that speaks a different language, celebrates different national holidays, and has a completely different lifestyle, is the same as moving out of the cave into the real world.
    After seeing their results, and learning that change and adapting to change is all part of life and essentially inevitable, I wouldn’t even think twice about leaving the cave.

  14. (Question 1) I would definitely want to be released from the cave. The cave would represent anything tangible or intangible that would hold me back from finding actual truths. These tangible/intangible ideas are a forced reality, filled with blatant lies, or even misrepresentation of facts. I believe being held in a cave of ideas (or shadows) that stretch the truth, and are made into truths, would be a difficult thing to to deal with, especially with the knowledge that I’m surrounded by nothing more than fabrications. If I just accept this situation, it would be ignorant, and as a human being, curiosity and the willingness to learn is a part of my nature, and if I know for a fact that I am able to leave the cave and add to my curiosity and learn more, I would take the chance and leave my cave.

  15. Response to question one: Would would want to be released from the cave? Why or Why not??

    I would want to be released from the cave so that I would have the ability to exercise the right to ponder about the greatnesses that are free to observe in our world. The ability to break free of this “cave” is to have the opportunity to roam and reflect in accordance with one’s own standards. The most important factor of all seems to be that in a world, restricted or not, an individual can form their own opinions and perceive things in their own fashion based on their experience, whereas in the cave, an individual is utterly confined to observing forms of shadows on the wall. It is also important to learn and understand what goes on outside of the cave, for future generations, our posterity, may need guidance, and we may help them by forming a foundation based our experiences and principals so that they may move forward in the right direction. (Our perception of the right direction)

  16. Question 1. I would most definitely want to leave the cave since it is inhumane to keep the mind trapped in a world of limited knowledge. Curiosity is of human nature, unlike that of another. Our minds do not simply react to the things around us, but seek an explanation as to why it happen. In Socrates’ “Allegory of the Cave”, we see that the prisoners are not just observing the shadows by are trying to identify what they are as well. These prisoners are curious of these shadows and that curiosity may one day develop into a question. Perhaps of what are these shadows? What is the source of these creations? One of these prisoners will eventually want to learn about the origins of these shadows and the only way to ascertain such information is to leave the cave.

  17. Those who govern me have power to shape my ideas and beliefs. This can be positive if they are open to knowledge. Those who ascend into the light and choose to return to enlighten others are positive influences. Those who do not choose to share their knowledge will destroy the future, because everyone will live in darkness.

  18. Being in a cave and to only understand loneliness, I would absolutely want to be released from the cave to be able to appreciate how powerful knowledge is. Communication, logical reasoning and all the great experiences of emotions that some may take granted would not exist if a human being is imprisoned in a cave. As a prisoner in a cave, the human mind would not be able to grow.

  19. Would i want to be released from the cave? Answering that question, I would say yes. But that is only because all our lives we have been exposed to living out of the cave. We would feel like a prisoner and the cave would be our dungeon. Yet placed in the same situation as the prisoners in “Allegory of The Cave”, I would not leave the cave. It would be overwhelming to experience all new shapes and demotions. I read once in an article that scientist cured a type of blindness. Patients, who have been blind since birth or younger, went under surgery and asked to go back to being blind. This is because the same idea why I wouldn’t want to leave the cave, the demotions would create everyday life to be so much more difficult than they used to be.

  20. While it is characteristic of all people to be uncomfortable with change, I have to believe I would want to be released from the cave. It is certainly easier and less scary to sit and vegetate in the same state forever, however it simply isn’t productive. In order for one to gain, one must go out and seek. The shadows are knowledge and experience. As a curious person myself, I would certainly want to go out and learn about the world around me.
    Yet, there is a certain comfort in being kept in the dark. Being someone who has lived a life filled with edification and surrounded by INFORMATION, I wouldn’t be able to survive in a colorless pit. However, if these people in the cave had never been exposed to the world outside of it, they would probably rather stay in there forever… and I can understand it.

  21. At first, it would be hard to even comprehend the fact that there is more to life than the projections of figures onto the cave wall. However, the realization of this new perception of life would enlighten me and make me want to seek more.

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  26. As children we are protected from the “real world” by our parents. Once we become of age that protection begins to loosen up and we are let go to be able to explore the “real world”. There is always a desire to know more and to be able to go through experiences that shapes our thinking and way of life.

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