Compare and Contrast Plato and Decsartes Essay

August 15, 2017 Philosophy

Descartes and Plato are two of the most influential minds within doctrine. The fable of the cave and systematic uncertainty are besides two of the most celebrated constructs within doctrine. Plato at the clip of composing the cave fable was seeking to defy the turning influence of the Sophist philosophers who prioritised semantics and rhetoric over truth. 1 Descartes by presenting extremist agnosticism to doctrine was disputing traditional scholastic doctrine which had dominated the doctrine for many centuries. While both pieces of composing are separated by different ages of clip and infinite. they portion many similarities every bit good as cardinal differences. This essay will try to compare and contrast these two organic structures of work by foremost explicating what is Descartes’ systematic uncertainty and Plato’s Allegory of the cave before eventually analyzing the similarities and differences between them in the concluding paragraph of analysis. Descartes in his first speculation introduces the construct of Radical uncertainty which likewise places intuition on the senses and the visual aspect of things. This involves depriving off all one’s beliefs and preconceived impressions in order to happen the foundational bedrock of cognition in which all scientific disciplines could so turn.

Descartes begins his first speculation by projecting uncertainty on all his beliefs. if a belief can be even somewhat doubted it must be discarded. He wants to ‘reject as perfectly false anything in which I could conceive of the least sum of doubt3’ this is called extremist agnosticism where all beliefs must be challenged. Through this experiment Descartes conceded that the physical senses are non to be trusted as they have deceived him earlier. this is known as centripetal misrepresentation and this disclosure forces him to doubt any beliefs about the external universe and cognition that is gathered by the five senses. His scrutiny besides reveals that dreams provinces can be hard to separate between waking life. this has happened before where he thought he was in bed but wasn’t. Henceforth one can non genuinely know if they are awake observant world or asleep basking a dream. this is known as the dream hypothesis. Descartes besides uncovers the evil devil hypothesis whereby all external world observed may be merely an semblance that is perpetrated by an evil devil seeking to lead on him. besides there is the job that all old memories about oneself could merely merely be imaginativeness and non grounded in any world.

The system of extremist uncertainty leads Descartes into cloudy district where he can non believe in the being of anything at all. This gratefully is changed when he discovers the cogito’ I think hence I am’ . his get downing point which saves him from uncertainness. leting him to turn out that he exists. In Plato’s fable of the cave. there are captives who are locked up within the deepnesss of a cave. All twenty-four hours long. they are situated in forepart of a wall and behind them is a fire which reflects shadows on the wall. Unbeknownst to the captives. there are puppeteers who use the firelight to reflect shadows of their marionettes upon the wall while doing noises ‘the truth would be literally nil but the shadows’ . The captives are incognizant of this semblance and erroneously believe these shadows are existent images. One twenty-four hours. a captive is released from his ironss and allowed to walk freely about the cave. Although it is confounding for him to see the marionettes and fire. he is forced to accept this clearer version of world and finally acclivities through the cave. passing a twenty-four hours and dark under the Sun and the stars. As he becomes familiar with the universe above. he realises the Sun is the giver of visible radiation. how it casts shadows and how his anterior life in the cave was an full semblance.

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This newfound enlightenment Plato comments will forestall him from of all time returning to the life in cave. nor will his old inmates believe him if he tried to liberate him. alternatively ‘they would set him to death5’ This rational waking up will do the inmate to hold on the thought of good. the ageless signifier which will press him to move ‘rationally in public or private life6’ . Ultimately Plato suggests the inmate should return to his old friends and seek to assist them. The cave analogy is concerned with the human status and its’ deficiency of enlightenment. for Plato the captives represent ordinary citizens who hold false beliefs ( shadows ) . world is dictated to them by their senses ( visual aspect of things ) leting them to be easy manipulated. Ignorance is so symbolised by darkness and the mind and ground is symbolised by the visible radiation. The journey of the inmate from darkness to visible radiation is a metaphor for instruction which allows one to come on from the ignorance in the deepnesss of the cave to the rational fields of the enlightened one in the outside universe.

The outer universe symbolises true cognition. the realization of ageless signifiers while the cave once more illustrates the universe of visual aspect and false beliefs. Woozley writes ‘most work forces without cognizing it unrecorded in this shadow world’9 The cave analogy and Descartes systematic uncertainty have much in common. Both are concerned with the illusive nature of the senses and external world. for Plato people place excessively much accent on the senses. on the visual aspect of things as illustrated in by the shadows on the wall. this leads them to keep false beliefs and to be easy misled. merely by come ining the kingdom of idea can people free themselves by deriving cognition and going enlightened. Descartes through the systematic uncertainty besides maintains that external world can non be genuinely known ; the centripetal misrepresentation and evil devil hypothesis cast uncertainty on the genuineness of the outside universe. Indeed the evil devil hypothesis is an about indistinguishable scenario to that of the captives whose centripetal perceptual experience is distorted by the shadow exerting puppeteers. Merely through the head or mind can an single overcome the illusive nature of the senses. it allows the captive to entree the outside universe to derive enlightenment and assist his fellow inmates while for Descartes the head by manner of the cogito is the one thing that can non be doubted which through it allows him turn out the being of the outside universe in his ulterior speculations.

The cave is an analogy which illustrates how people can possess false consciousness and how through ground and knowledge one can get the better of this piece systematic uncertainty is an direction on how to fling false beliefs. the acclivity through the cave into the rational universe is the finishing point for Plato while the cogito for Descartes is a starting point for farther probe. The two writers besides differ on the type of doctrine employed in their statement. Plato insists that after the acclivity. the captive will see the thought of the good ‘ the Godhead of visible radiation in the seeable universe. and the immediate beginning of ground and truth in the intellectual’10 the good so is the highest point of cognition and represents Plato’s doctrine of perfect types or signifiers known as idealism. Descartes through foregrounding the sensory. dream and demon hypothesis illustrates how the external universe can non be relied upon as a footing for true cognition. but the cogito is a starting point. the effort to happen unafraid beliefs that allow a foundation for farther cognition to be rested upon is known as Foundationalism which is credited to Descartes.

In decision. both Descartes and Plato in their efforts to dispute the prevalent philosophy of their several times introduced two of the most influential constructs in the universe of Philosophy. Descartes through his scrutiny of systematic uncertainty uncovers the restrictions of the physical senses in geting cognition and introduces further challenges to understanding external world with the dream. memory and evil devil hypothesis. Merely through the head entirely can one hold on the nature of world get downing with the cogito. Likewise Plato is concerned with the visual aspect of things. how the senses can lead on us and humanity like the inmates in the cave can populate in a province of ignorance or darkness if they don’t use the power of the head to get cognition and ground. Merely through utilizing the mind can humanity gather true cognition and get away the darkness in the cave. For both the mind is the lone means for garnering true cognition. the senses are illusive. Descartes systematic uncertainty and cogito provide the foundational starting point for the scientific disciplines while the cave fable offers advocates a manner of life for humanity to sham the universe of ignorance and seek true cognition so that those who get it will return to the cave and assist their fellow adult male.

Plants Cited:

Annas. Julias. An Introduction to Plato’s’ Republic. New York: Oxford University Press Cottingham. John. Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2013 Cottingham. John. Ed. Ray Monk. Descartes’ Philosophy of Mind. London: Phoenix Publishers. 1997 Plato. The Allegory of the cave. Week 5 Handout

Woozley. Anthony. Plato’s Republic: A philosophical commentary. London: MacMillan Publishers. 1989


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