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Plato's Cave Allegory

Plato’s cave allegory showed that people’s senses can lead them to believe things that aren’t reality, are. Humans can be tricked by manipulating their senses. People rely on their senses as a source of information. If the information they receive is wrong, then it would cause the way they view the world around them to be wrong as well. A great example of this comes from the movie The Matrix. In The Matrix, everyone is living in a computer program, but they don’t know it. They have been in it since birth, and so never question it. It is reality to them. This is just like Plato’s cave allegory. The people in the program are like the people in the cave. They people in the cave have only ever experienced the shadows, and accept them as a reality as a result. Just like the people in The Matrix accept the computer program as reality. Neo, the protagonist in The Matrix, eventually wakes up from the computer program. He gets to experience the real world. He is just like the man who leaves the cave in the allegory. We can assume, just like we can in the cave allegory, that if Neo attempted to explain to someone living inside the computer program that they were, in fact, living inside a computer program, they would think he was insane. Just like the cave people would think that someone who told them that they were only viewing the shadows of objects out in the real world is insane.

More Recent Examples of Similar Stories

I feel that The Matrix actually does a better job at getting across the cave allegory’s point than the cave allegory itself. I feel this way because unlike the people in the allegory, I have not been living in a cave my whole life. I cannot understand their point of view. I can, however, sympathize with the people living inside the computer generated world. In fact, I often wonder if our world is just some sort of program. We could merely be a series of ones and zeroes inputted into a computer by some programmer we refer to as God. Plato’s metaphysical views are similar to, but also different from Aristotle’s. Both Plato and Aristotle separated everything in the world into two categories, matter and form. They both agreed that matter was merely the materials that make things up, and that when matter was given form is when an object truly had an identity. Plato believed that there was a world of perfect forms, and that we saw it before we were born. We could imitate the things that we saw in this world, but we could never have them be perfect, as we saw them before birth. We could draw a circle with the intention of it being a perfect circle like we had seen in the world of perfect forms, but ours would only be a representation. It would always be slightly lopsided, or misshapen in some way. This is where their metaphysical views differed. Aristotle did not believe that form existed in a different world than our own. He believed that matter and form could not exist apart from each other. Form give matter its particularity, and matter gives form its concreteness. A world of only form made no sense to Aristotle. How could form exist without matter? What would the form be made of? The form of a table could exist in the world of perfect forms, but how could you see the table? It had to be made up of some sort of matter.

Aristotle and Plato

Aristotle and Plato had very similar metaphysical views. They are essentially the same thing, only explained slightly differently. Aristotle seemed to be more straightforward in his explanation than Plato (whose idea of a world of perfect forms I find to be insane) but the basic principles were the same. Everything in this world is made of matter and form. The matter and form may change, but it will always be there. Whether or not they agree upon whether or not form resides in our world or a world of perfect forms is actually quite irrelevant. They both had the same ideas, and those ideas are what really matters. Not the minor things that are attached to them, such as where form exists.

Philosophy


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