Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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The Blind Man and the Prisoner

Photo credit: Philosophy Monkey- Plato’s Cave (Blogspot)

Seventeen years, only a mere fraction within the history of humanity and the universe itself. This number (our age) defines all that we’ve seen, questioned, experienced and deciphered in our entire existence. Isn’t that somewhat daunting? That all the information and people we’ve known has been limited to a value defined by our age? I would argue that acquiring or dismissing knowledge is a direct consequence of ignorance; where the absence of curiosity can dictate, to some extent, the subduing effects of our own free will and creative thought. While some are comfortable to live in ignorance (although they may not know it), others are more inclined to give in to that nagging feeling of wanting to know more; to know if there is more to know. I for one think that it’s not really a “duty” for people to acquire knowledge for they might live a happy life, however I perceive it as the nature of our humanity and a part of our everyday lives. To simply know more of our copious world can be seen as a learning process and for some a necessity. As Warren Buffett once said “The more you learn, the more you earn.” However, as some crave the desire to expose themselves to new realities, some are not willing to “escape their cave” which brings me to my next point.

As seen in the allegory of Plato’s Cave, three chained prisoners are born with a limited capacity to perceive and understand only what they can see in front of them; projected shadows of “reality” itself. They do not know that what they perceive is limited to the physical realms of the cave until one of them is freed and ventures off into this true depiction of reality. Upon returning to the cave the freed prisoner feels that his journey out to “reality” may have actually harmed the freed prisoner since the shadows in the cave no longer appeared with clarity. These shadows the prisoner could not make out are almost like the people who go through some form of enlightenment that shifts the paradigm in which they live in. These ‘unclear’ shadows represent your previous paradigm; one that you are not able to see clearly anymore (and not necessarily agree with) but is still present in your mind. Let’s say you are exposed to an enlightening reality that challenges everything you’ve known about reality. Whether this arises from a conversation with your friend, a movie you watched, a talk you went to, until you feel exposed to an extensively new reality are you able to escape your own version of ‘Plato’s Cave’.

I tend to think that we’re always in a cave. We are essentially encapsulated in a series of caves where we uncover them through gaining knowledge, questioning, and experiencing a new reality. In other words, being exposed to “enlightening” situations in your life. Whether you are a person who chooses to cultivate knowledge or simply dismiss it, we are all still very ignorant people in one way or another. Just stop think and think to yourself, you will find that in certain situations in life you might be the chained prisoner witnessing the returning man’s blindness,  when in other cases you may be the returning ‘blind man’.

 

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