Monday, October 24, 2005

Reaching For Balance-

In Book Seven of The Republic of Plato Socrates illustrates the idea of a cave where individuals are secluded from the world of light and learning. Not able to see what is real but only what is selectively illuminated onto a wall. These people are pawns and interpret what they see as best as they can. He discusses this allegory of the cave as a means to talk about a different style of education. An education that teaches people how to think beyond their sensational way of processing thought to that of an intellectual.
Individuals are selected from the group in the cave at random, and exposed to the world of truth. This education is then based on a select group with the capability to understand and think intellectually, thinking with a larger perspective, in search of the ultimate truth. This truth may or may not be found, however, more important is the journey taken in the quest for the truth and the education acquired during that journey. Once they have learned all they can of the exterior of the cave they return to the cave in order to teach truth. The cave however is void of real truth; instead a censured truth is projected on the wall and accepted as what is because it's all that is known. Once the learned return to the cave they will have the capability to convey intellect upon those who are limited to sensational thinking, thinking what is projected on the way is what is real.
Because, “The ones that summon the intellect…are all those that don't at the same time go over to the opposite sensation. But the ones that do go over I class among those that do summon intellect, when sensation doesn't reveal one thing any more then the opposite…”(523c.) Therefore when those in the cave that have left are balanced and have seen both what is sensational and intellectual. With this type of education the one who have experienced both are worthy of being named capable philosophers; people who will share the truth with the population teaching them the differences between sensational thinking and intellectual thinking.
In a modern test such as the popular children's story, “Peter Pan” a similar concept can be applied. However instead of the population moving from sensational way of thought to intellectual, it is opposite. The Children form “Peter Pan” are brought into a world that is unlike what they have ever seen before. They are brought into the world of sensation. It is a world of imagination and freedom. Juxtaposed to the realistic world, which is the world of intellect. They are educated in how to have fun once more and avoid growing up. In the Cave or in society they are programmed to mature into responsible individual who are not capable of letting their imagination soar and be free. They arte programmed to forget about sensational though and focus on Intellectual thought. However once they fly free of the cave they become exposed to a world where reality does not interfere with desire.
According to Socrates neither of these ideals are better then their counter part in accordance with the betterment of the society. An optimal ideal would be for the two ideals to be balanced, so that intellect and sensation are equally learned. In the allegory of the cave Socrates shows this. However in “Peter Pan” an extreme is reached and balance is what the children are seeking.


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