16 Jul 2011
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POL200Y1Y L5101 1
R. Balot
L1: Introduction
May 12, 2009
6:00 PM
Plato's Republic - The Allegory of The CAVE
This allegory is about education
oWhy Socrates says the cave prisoners are so much like us
oWe are meant to find the prisoners pitiable
Why are we prisoners?
oThe allegory says we are imprisoned by our ignorance
Who are the puppeteers?
oThey are the unquestioned authority figures. We live our lives by convention
e.g. children must learn conventions in order to perform in life
The danger becomes that we live our lives as conformists
oUpon seeing the light, the prisoners feel safe in their convictions
Why continue digging into the nature of our values
Here, the puppeteers are also in the cave and live their lives believing that
reproducing/following convention is their goal
oThe prisoners find it difficult to walk past their puppeteers - and by extension
- convention and face the light
Awakening oneself to the order which underlies convention is Plato's most
memorable image
Education is not easy
oThe danger is conformity; hence, education grants liberation
oEducation will free you from those beliefs which are not your own/ beliefs you
can not endorse upon reflection
POL200 Mission Statement
Liberate ourselves from the tyranny of our conventional beliefs
oTo do this, we study both the makers of our conventional beliefs (Hobbes,
Locke) as well as those who offer us alternatives (the ancient thinkers)
oUpon reflection, if we find our conventions worth upholding
Then we may uphold these conventions autonomously
If happiness is the goal: recall that there are no objective standards by which to
gauge happiness
oThis set of ideas is traced back to Hobbes
oHobbes believed it was the state's role to allow each citizen to pursue
happiness
The state should mandate a form of education which will make us
happy
Recall Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza
"life, liberty and property"
For Plato, Aristotle and Cicero the state exists to promote human goodness
oAncient politics struggled to achieve a unique sort of goodness
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