Essay on Comparing Two Books: The Allegory of The Cave by Plato and Nietzsches Good and Evil

Published: 2021-08-16
1950 words
8 pages
17 min to read
Carnegie Mellon University
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The Allegory of The Cave is a theory stipulated by Plato, and it focuses on exploring human perceptions when it comes to thinking and the truths associated with different reasoning. Platos allegory of the cave is among the best insightful approach that seeks to explain and highlight the nature of reality. The cave embodies the state of different human beings and the narration of the dramatic escape from the cave is a representation of the true understanding the truth. Friedrich Nietzsches Genealogy of morals is another text whose ideologies can be useful in explaining some elements raised by Platos allegory of the cave. There is the need of analyzing Platos allegory of the cave by using Nietzsches critical lens of the book Genealogy of Morals.

In the allegory of the cave, Plato embarks on creating a fictitious conversation between Socrates and Glaucon. From the dialogue, critical elements about human beings freedom to think and develop philosophical reasoning are addressed. This achieved through allusion of the prisoners in the cave whose hands and legs have been tied to the rocks. The prisoners heads have also been bound to ensure they only stare at stonewall ahead of them. From this tale, it is revealed that the prisoners have been held in this cave since birth, indicating that they have never seen the outside world (Plato 749). From the narration, it is also shown that behind the prisoners, there is fire, with a walkway separating them.

From this context, Plato is using the imagery of the cave as the representation of the people who allege that knowledge is drawn from what people see, observe or hear in their surroundings which is also known as empirical evidence. From this assertion, it can be contended that those people who support the application of the experiential knowledge have been trapped like prisoners in a cave of misunderstanding.

The imagery of the cave as used by Plato when explaining how seeing or hearing in the world lead to the acquisition of knowledge can be analyzed using Nietzsche's first essay, Good and Evil or Good and Bad. According to Nietzsche, peoples actions and thinking can pave the way for the master morality and slave morality. According to Nietzsche, morality typifies a collection of errors that human beings have integrated into their primary approaches of thinking, feeling, reacting and living. This can be related to what Plato is addressing when referring to the prisons who are have been tied in the cave. --Behold! Human beings living in an underground cave, which has a mouth... (Plato 750). The cave symbolizes people who have been held as captives in their thinking or the assertions and opinions of others which has continually made them be stagnated as far as becoming knowledgeable through seeing and hearing is concerned.

Nietzsche contends that it through peoples reasoning or actions towards a given situation in the environment that has demonstrated their profound ignorance of themselves and the world at large. We don't know ourselves, we knowledgeable peoplewe are personally ignorant of ourselves. (Nietzsche 3). Nietzsche alleges that individuals are ignorant about themselves because they have made little efforts in attempting to find out whom they are, ultimately remaining captives in the cave, as it is the case with Platos allegory of the cave. Nietzsche is concerned that people might never succeed in discovering their real identity if they continue to maintain their status quo. Nietzsche observes contends that Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be alsoOur treasure lies where the beehives of our knowledge stand.(p.4). from this statement, Nietzsche is implying that human beings will not acquire any knowledge if they do not explore new environments which influence their thinking.

If this is taken in the context of Plato, it can be asserted that those individuals who will remain as the prisoners in the cave will not access new knowledge either through seeing or hearing. here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads... (Plato 749). From this description, it is apparent that an individual cannot change anything since he/she has been in the same state of since his childhood. It follows that the prisoners will remain ignorant about their true identity since they have not made any effort to explore new environments that can enable them to gain new experiences as commended by Nietzsche. This suggests that individuals who do not explore new ways of thinking or approaches to their lives will hinder their chances of acquiring new knowledge on their lives.

According to Platos description, it is demonstrated that people who are outside the cave walk freely along the walkway that separates the prisoners who have been tied, and they are seen carrying some items on their heads such as animals, plants, and stone. Plato reasons that the prisoners still have a chance of learning through seeing and hearing because their ears and eyes are not tied or closed respectively. if then they were able to talk to one another, do you think that they would suppose that in naming the things that they saw they were naming the passing objects? (p.749). this statement indicates that Plato agrees with Nietzsches assertions that once the heart (representation of thoughts) is engaged, then a difference in peoples thinking will be realized. Our hearts have not even been engagednor, for that matter, have our ears... (Nietzsche 3). It follows that as long as people can hear and observe, their reasoning is likely to be improved.

According to Nietzsches insights in his first essay on "'Good and Evil,' 'Good and Bad'" he is trying to contrast what he terms as "master morality" and "slave morality." Nietzsche claims that master morality is developed by individuals who are endowed with robust, healthy, experienced and free minds or reasoning (p.6). This has paved the way for the militarily or politically domineering groups identified as masters who assume control over of the less powerful and subdued individuals called the slaves. This claim can be related to the situation of the prisoners who have been held captive in Platos allegory of the cave. In this context, the prisoners are controlled by the individuals who are perceived to be relatively more powerful.

While in the cave, Plato reveals that prisoners are likely to start playing a game where the prisoners can start guessing the shadow of the people passing behind them. And of the objects which are being carried in like manner, they would only see the shadows? (Plato 750). Plato observes that the prisoners who will correctly guess or identify the shadow that appeared on the wall (whether the shadow that looks on the wall is real or not) were considered to be the winners. For instance, other prisoners in the cave will start praising the winner by calling him the master of nature. From this point, it is demonstrated that Nietzsches concept of the slave morality is applied in Platos description of the individuals who liberate themselves from the captivity of ignorance.

According to Plato, whenever an individual discovers something through the provision of the empirical evidence, other people will start perceiving him to be superior. However, Plato is refuting the claims that a person who has the knowledge or adequate information of the empirical world should be treated as master. Through the game that prisoners in the cave, Plato demonstrates that the master does not necessarily know the truth, thus ridiculing those people who blindly respect the masters because they allegedly hold empirical evidence. To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images. (Plato 751). This is among human errors that Nietzsche is addressing in his text, Genealogy of Morality.

From Nietzsches point of view, the people who structured the meaning of good or bad/evil were considered to nobble and more powerful, thus defining the acts of good and bad in a manner that benefits them but not necessarily reflecting on the truthiness or reality of the situation they came to see themselves as good when they came to see the contrast between themselves and those who were below them: the common people, the poor and the weak.. (Nietzsche 6). These claims strengthen Platos application through the allegory of the cave on prisoners who believe that whoever wins the game of guessing the rightful shadow is the master of nature.

Platos allegory of the cave reveals that one of the prisoners manage to escape from their captivity, thus leaving the cave where others are held. Upon reaching outside the cave, he is surprised at the new environment outside, prompting him to be skeptical of its reality. At first, 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... (Plato 752). Having escaped from the cave, the prisoner starts appreciating the knowledge and reality he discovers. For example, after exiting the cave, an individual will acknowledge that the sun is the source of life. This will enable a person to embark on an intellectual adventure when he invents the beauty or the meaning of his life. It is at this point that an individual will attest that his former life, especially the guessing game he played while still in prison, was indeed a useless and meaningless experience.

The experience that a prison undergoes after escaping from the cave is expounded by Nietzsches concept of guilt and conscience which is associated with surprise. According to Nietzsche, the ideologies of guilt and punishment were previously not based on the sense of moral disobedience (Nietzsche 8). From the context of the allegory of the cave, it is revealed that the prisoner who manages to escape is an epitome of a philosopher who is willing to seek knowledge outside a given jurisdiction. The sun is the representation of truth and knowledge.

It follows that individuals who do not take an initiative of going against the underlying principles or transgressing, then one is likely to fail in obtaining the truth and new knowledge. Nietzsche asserts that The bloodshed and horrors that this relationship between suffering and guilt led to in the past should not be concealed by the domesticity of the present (Nietzsche 12). Breaking from the cave is an indication that individuals should be willing to go a notch higher when it comes to seeking new knowledge or ideas that can liberate others. The prisoner who escapes from the prison goes outside and discovers new philosophies about life and the world. This typifies a thinker who is ready to overcome the existing limitations to seek knowledge which can be useful to others irrespective of the punishment or guilt he is likely to encounter.

People are scared of new knowledge which can strengthen a given philosophical truth. When the prisoner returns to the cave, the other prisoners are treating him with animosity and contempt. They even threaten to kill him. This attests that individuals are scared of philosophical truths which challenge their imagination. This prompts Plato to contend that the power of learning lies in a persons soul. The prisoner going back to the cave is addressed in Nietzsche third essay where claims that "a wrong road on which one must finally walk back to the point where it begins (Nietzsche 4). This implies that resolving of the fixed and limited thinking among people who are held in the captivity of empirical knowledge, require people to...

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