In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Plato attempts to liken the way a person views the world to prisoners who have been tied up in a cave all their lives and whose are only familiar to shadows that are projected on a wall in front of them. Plato argues that often the views that people hold of the world around them are illusions based on their isolated life experiences. When one such prisoner is freed, he goes out of the cave and becomes familiar with the real world. He realizes that the things that he held as real objects were, in fact, shadows of real objects. When he goes back into the cave, he can no longer identify with his fellow prisoners, because he has a deeper and different understanding of the shadows. However, the prisoners would not understand him, and they would only claim that his eyes have been corrupted.
Indeed, Plato’s allegory can be applied to several experiences in everyday life today. Television, for instance, has been an important and useful tool in entertainment and information. However, it could make one lose touch with reality. There are people who are so hooked to television that they know no other form of reality (Biressi and Heather 67). The soap operas that they watch have influenced their lives so much that they would wish to apply whatever happens in the programs to their own lives. Unfortunately, this is a habit that many people pick early in life, and it sticks with them for a long time. Unfortunately, it clouds their perception of life so much that they look like the prisoners who have never seen anything apart from shadows, and they think that things happen in real life as they do in television programs.
A few of such people change as they grow. This is because they have to get education, interact with the other people and encounter different experiences as they embark on learning. Therefore, they represent the prisoner who is exposed to the true light, who realizes that the shadows are not as true as they seem. This means that experience and exposure are some of the ways people can get to break down their ignorance and expand their world views.
When such people are all grown up and knowledgeable, they may land in different professions or become parents. At such points in their lives, they try to enlighten other people that there is more to life than what is seen on television and that TV programs are often a huge misrepresentation of real life experiences. This can be compared to the prisoner who, after getting exposed to light, goes back into the cave and tries to enlighten his fellow prisoners. Just as the prisoners thought that the one prisoner who was released had corrupted his eyes, such people are often regarded as corrupted and radical, because they do not espouse the ideas they once proposed.
Therefore, Plato’s allegory can very much apply to the false perceptions of life people get from television today (Pratt, John). Television can put people in a false realm of life, making their perceptions of the world different from what things really are.
A Comparison of Plato’s Metaphysical Views with those of Aristotle
Plato held the view that reality consisted of two parts. The first part of Plato’s view of reality consisted of the physical world, or what is more appropriately referred to as the world of senses. The other part is the world of forms, or ideas that are not tangible. Plato held that the world of senses was constantly changing while the world of forms remained constant. He also held the view that the world of forms was superior to the world of senses, because he believed that the world of forms gave rise to everything physical.
Aristotle, on the other hand, was interested in wisdom, which, he proposed, consisted of causes and principles. Aristotle sought to study the causes and principles of things as things, and he drew a distinction between science, mathematics and philosophy. While science studies things in light of change, mathematics studies things as countable things, and philosophy studies things as things.
As such, Aristotle agreed that substantive things in the world were subject to change and that science made an effort to study these substantive things. In this aspect, Aristotle’s metaphysical views and those of Plato were similar.
However, Aristotle is known to have criticized Plato’s theory of Forms. Aristotle claims that for Plato, the only substance has form, and that the only things that have substance are studied by science. Aristotle believed that there was a form of science that studied even things that were not substance and that science was theology. According to Aristotle, theology was the highest form of science.
However, Plato did not purport to know what the line between things that had form and those that had no form was. However, what he asserted was that those things that were not substance, or ideas, were superior to substantive things. This was the main point of departure between Aristotle and Plato (Gill and Pierre 23).
Indeed, Plato and Aristotle’s metaphysical views agree to the point that the world of ideas is superior to the world of substance. However, they do not seem to agree on what exactly constitutes that physical world and what falls within the world of ideas.