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Philosophy HW Religion & Theology Coursework Paper (Coursework Sample)


answer the questions on p. 31 in the pdf i uploaded. While not every answer needs to be long and drawn out, make sure you write in complete sentences and answer all parts of the questions.


but they never considered that realizing their potential as persons was the most important occupation they had in life. A Good Person Cannot Be Harmed by Others This statement follows from the rest of Socrates’ teachings. If the real me, the most important part of who I am, is not my possessions nor the outward, physical part of me, then no one can corrupt me or damage me from outside. An evil person can cause great pain or even kill me, but what makes me the person I am cannot be affected or harmed by any outward force. More precisely, I cannot be harmed by others unless, of course, I allow my values, my beliefs, my emotions, and my direction in life to be infl uenced unthinkingly by those around me. To paraphrase Socrates’ view, we can choose to be like driftwood, fl oating on the surface of life, passively turning this way or that as each wave or gust of wind infl uences our motion. In this case, we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the effects and harm produced by others. On the other hand, we can choose to be like the captain of a sailboat who sets his or her own direction with the rudder and the sails. If we set our sights on wisdom, then our values, like the keel of the boat, will keep us on the course we set. We have to respond to the winds in society that are blowing about us, but we are in control and we make the winds serve our purpose rather than being at their mercy. Hence, the Socratic vision of the life of philosophical wisdom is one in which selfexamination leading to self-knowledge gives us the wisdom to care for the best part of ourselves and liberates us from the control and harm of everything outside, making us inner-directed and fulfi lled persons. 30 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNEY PHILOSOPHY Sin the MARKETPLACE Socrates is probably one of the best known philosophers in history. See how much people know about him by asking 5 to 10 people who have not had a philosophy class the following questions. • Who was Socrates? • What is the Socratic method of teaching? • What were some of Socrates’ teachings? • Why was he put to death by the people of Athens? It might be uncharitable to criticize your friends’ answers unless they ask you what you think. Nevertheless, after you have collected various answers, rank them according to which ones you think are the most accurate and the least accurate. Based on your survey, how much does the general public know about Socrates? 1.2 PLATO’S ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE We can follow out some of Socrates’ themes by exploring the ideas of Plato (c. 428–348 B.C.), Socrates’ most famous disciple. (Further biographical information on Plato can be found in section 2.2.) If we are to search for wisdom and to know how to live our lives, Plato believed, we must have a correct understanding of knowledge and reality. Plato’s view of reality, as well as his view of knowledge and personal enlightenment, is represented in his famous Allegory of the Cave, which has become a classic story in Western literature. In this allegory, Plato suggests the possibility that reality may be entirely different than our taken-for-granted assumptions suppose it to be. In telling this story, Plato uses the fi gure of his teacher Socrates to present his ideas. As you read the allegory, answer the following questions. • Can you imagine the scene in the cave Socrates describes? Sketch a picture of all the elements in the cave. • Glaucon says the people in the story are “strange prisoners.” Socrates then gives the stunning reply that they are “like ourselves.” Why do you suppose Socrates compares us to these prisoners? • What do the shadows stand for? • What are the “shadows” in our society? In your life? • According to this story, what is enlightenment? • In what sense does the freed prisoner not understand the shadows as well as his Plato’s Allegory of the Cave 31 This diagram of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave represents chained prisoners whose only reality is the shadow world projected on the wall in front of them. They are unaware that behind them is the higher degree of reality of the fi re and the statues that are casting the shadows. Still further up is the steep and rugged passage out of the cave to the upper world. A prisoner who follows this path will encounter the world of real objects and the sun. Plato used this story as a rough analogy to the modes of awareness and levels of reality discussed in his philosophy. friends do when he returns to the cave? In what sense does he understand the shadows better than his friends do? • In what ways are the events in the enlightened prisoner’s life like the events in the historical Socrates’ life? • Summarize what philosophical points you think Plato is making in this allegory. F R O M P L A T O Republic10 SOCRATES: And now, let me show in a parable how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened. Imagine human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light. Here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they can not move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning their heads around. Above and behind them a fi re is blazing at a distance, and between the fi re and the prisoners there is a raised walk; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the walkway, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets. GLAUCON: I see. SOCRATES: And do you see men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and fi gures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent. GLAUCON: You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners. SOCRATES: Like ourselves; and they see only their own shadow, or the shadows of one another, which the fi re throws on the opposite wall of the cave. GLAUCON: True; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads? SOCRATES: And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows? GLAUCON: Yes. SOCRATES: And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them? GLAUCON: Very true. SOCRATES: And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the cave wall, would they not be sure to believe when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow? GLAUCON: No question. SOCRATES: To them, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images. GLAUCON: That is certain. SOCRATES: And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At fi rst, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains. The glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to reality and his eye is turned towards more real 32 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNEY A existence, he has a clearer vision. What will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them—will he not be perplexed? Will he not believe that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him? GLAUCON: Far truer. SOCRATES: And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the shadows which he can see, and which he will conceive to be clearer than the things which are now being shown to him? GLAUCON: True. SOCRATES: And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he is forced into the presence of the sun itself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities. GLAUCON: Not all in a moment. SOCRATES: He will need to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And fi rst he will see the shadows best, next the refl ections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day. GLAUCON: Certainly. SOCRATES: Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere refl ections of it in the water, but he will see the sun in its own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate the sun as it is. GLAUCON: Certainly. SOCRATES: He will then proceed to argue that this is what gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold? GLAUCON: Clearly, he would fi rst see the sun and then reason about it. SOCRATES: And when he remembered his old dwelling, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would be happy about his change, and pity them? GLAUCON: Certainly, he would. SOCRATES: And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer, “Better to be the poor servant of a poor master” and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner? GLAUCON: Yes, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner. SOCRATES: Imagine once more, such a one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness? GLAUCON: To be sure. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave 33 SOCRATES: And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable), would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death. GLAUCON: No question. SOCRATES: This allegory is connected to the previous argument about the ascent of knowledge. The prison-house-cave is the world of sight; the light of the fi re is the sun; and the journey upwards is the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world. My view is that in the world of knowledge the idea of the Good appears last of all, and is seen only with great effort; and when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world [the sun], and the immediate source of reason and truth in the higher world [the world of Forms]; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fi xed. GLAUCON: I agree, as far as I am able to understand you. SOCRATES: Moreover, you must not wonder that those who attain to this wonderful vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory is to be trusted. GLAUCON: Yes, very natural. SOCRATES: And is there anything surprising in one who passes from divine contemplations to the evil state of man, appearing in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes are blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding darkness, he is compelled to fi ght in courts of law, or in other places, about the images or the shadows of images of justice, and is endeavouring to meet the conceptions of those who have never yet seen absolute justice? GLAUCON: Anything but surprising. SOCRATES: Any one who has common sense will remember that the confusions of the eyes are two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will fi rst ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den. GLAUCON: That is a very just distinction. SOCRATES: But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes. GLAUCON: They undoubtedly say this. 34 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNEY SOCRATES: Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already. Just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of unchanging reality, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of reality, and of the brightest and best of reality, or in other words, of the Good. GLAUCON: Very true. SOCRATES: And must there not be some art which will turn the soul about in the easiest and quickest manner? It is not the art of implanting the faculty of sight in the soul, for that exists already, but to ensure that, instead of looking in the wrong direction, away from the truth, it is turned the way it ought to be. GLAUCON: Yes, such an art may be presumed. Plato on Knowledge, Reality, and Value What is the point of Plato’s story? Is his purpose to point out that we should stay out of dank, dark caves and prefer the healthier environment of fresh air and sunshine? Obviously not, for Plato’s story is an allegory in which the events in the narrative symbolize a deeper meaning. There are many levels at which the story can be interpreted. However, Plato’s main point is that the relationship between the shadows and the upper, sunlit world is similar to the relationship between two levels of knowledge and two levels of reality. With respect to knowledge, Plato believed that the world revealed to us in sense experience is like the land of shadows; it is an imperfect representation of higher truths that are revealed to us through reason. Similarly, with respect to reality, the shadows that the prisoners see are lesser realities that are representative of, or derived from, the wooden fi gures behind them, which themselves are replicas of the real objects in the upper world. These replicas symbolize Plato’s view that levels of reality transcend the world of our sense experience. Accordingly, the physical world (like the shadows) has some degree of reality, but it is transcended by and must be understood in terms of the nonphysical world. It is because we can rise above the realm of particular, physical things and understand the higher nonphysical realities that we can understand anything at all. To use one of Plato’s favorite examples, consider the question, What is justice? Justice doesn’t have any shape, weight, or color. Unlike a rock, it is not something that we encounter in sense experience but it is something that we can reason about and can use to judge the moral quality of human actions. If justice is not a physical thing and cannot be known with the fi ve senses, can it, nevertheless, still be something real? There may be a number of ways to approach this question, but the two answers Plato considered are (a) what we call justice is merely what different individuals think it is according to their subjective opinion or (b) the word justice refers to something objective and real, but something that we can only know with our minds, not with our physical senses. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave 35 STOP AND THINK Which of the above two answers seems most correct to you? Can you think of any other answers concerning the nature of justice? From these considerations, what can you conclude about the nature of moral properties such as justice?


Philosophy HW
Student’s Name
The cave can be represented by prisoners who are chained and they cannot be able to spin their heads. However, they can perceive the walls of the cave. Behind them there are burns of fire, and between the fire and the prisoners, there is a pathway where the puppeteers can make their movements. Behind these prisoners are the puppeteers who are holding up puppets. The puppets are the ones casting shadows on the walls of the cave (Plato, 2017). The puppeteers are presumed to be people outside the cave who are walking along this walkway carrying things on their heads including stones, woods, plants and animals.

Socrates compares human beings with the prisoners in the cave because human beings are like slaves. Human beings are like prisoners and the cave is the human condition. Just like the prisoners in the cave believed that the puppets were true, human beings also believe various things that interacts within their political, social, religious, and economic lives are true without giving any attention to the basic forces behind such things (Plato, 2017). Human are restrained within a knitted fabric of knowledge whereby they are enslaved, they are restricted from moving freely in search of knowledge and this makes them prisoners.

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