Friday, August 31, 2007

Allegory of the Cave

When considering "Allegory of the Cave", how is it possible that some people can believe in illusion and accept it as reality? Give examples.

90 comments:

ethan_is_ninja said...

"Allegory of the Cave", an insanely confusing and psychedelic but strangely enlightening text, had a very insightful comment about the difference between truth and illusion. If illusion to some people is truth, then is truth an illusion to those people? For a more offbeat example, the movie "300" featured a Persian "god-king" named Xerces. Believe me, I'm getting somewhere. To his ignorant people, it was easy to believe he was a god because he was so powerful, intimidating, and charismatic. His divine demeanor could easily sway enemy troops to his side thinking he was a god. This proves that many factors such as charisma and personality can lead to false truth and false belief. But in the end, King Leonidas of Sparta makes him bleed and exposes him as a mere mortal. The end.

J.Malone said...

Great connection...

MadiBee said...

If someone knows nothing else and has no reason to challenge their belief in an allusion, then why wouldn't they think that it was reality? Throughout history there are countless examples of this, and i don't think you need me to list them. What's interesting is when the illusion is challenged by reality and how people react.

Katie A

MadiBee said...

I think that the thing about illusions is that unless the person is specifically given the truth, it's hard to make that leap for yourself. I also think a lot of illusions is an authoritative source. the knowledge for a culture is passed down from one generation to another, whether through text books or word of mouth. If this isn't disproven and lots of poeple believe it, lots of people have been given that "knowledge" which is really illusion and will continue to pass it along.
-the REAL madibee

Wrightla said...

So with "300" also, the move is almost entirely CG. If one doesn't know that its all CG its REALLY easy to believe that its real. In a purely concrete and not at all theoretical way, people are able to believe that its real even though its made with computers and is therefore an illusion. After watching it I found out how much was actually CG and felt really shocked, it was a move so I just trusted that its was real.

-Caitlin Anderson

J.Malone said...

Back to the Allegory of the Cave... it is stated that the people in the cave "have their legs and necks chained so they cannot move" are "being prevented by the chains from moving their heads". Assuming that their skin's touch can realize that they are chained and prevented from moving (sense perception), if they are logical, they will realize that they do not have a complete perception of reality because they are restrained by the chains, therefore, they realize, though they might deny it, that their "reality" is not really reality, because they are confined to a certain area.

By the way, can they smell the fire behind them? And what is being burned?

Sam Elder

Dani said...

Just look at the media! Magazines today are projecting unrealistic images that people believe because they consider the media to be an authority (possibly because they know it is widely circulated, and someone would speak up and change it were it wrong).
When someone grows up knowing one thing, believing it as true because thats what they are used to and been told by people they trust. Think about what you were told about Christopher Columbus in elementary, jr. high and high school.

kristina said...

Its hard to apply logic to a situation that you have never experienced differently. If the people in the cave have never seen fire then how would they understand that the air doesn't always smell like smoke and in fact there is something else creating that scent.

We're confined to land because we cannot fly we cannot breathe underwater (at least not without mechanical means). We accept these limitations because we believe that science tells us that we can't biologically conquer them. If you think of it in these terms then perhaps its not the people in the cave not understanding their limitations but maybe humans as a race aren't understanding ours. Our biological sensory perceptions limit us to a very specific view of the world in combination with the fact that we are only using about 10% of our brain power. If we managed to harness 100% of our brain power maybe another whole sense will be revealed to us beyond the five noted ones. We're limited to what our logic can tell us and what our senses tell us, but what if, in actuality, everything we're being told by our minds are only half-truths and imperfected reality.
It's a difficult concept for us to get our minds around, just like the fact that all of the shadow creatures in the cave aren't the true form but in fact poor flawed imitations of reality. And that they can move beyond what their chains tell them they can.
We accept fact if we haven't known anything else our entire lives.
It's one of the greatest flaws in logic.

Kerry Riley

J.Malone said...

To me, the personal acception of a belief or an idea by an individual can transcend illusion and become reality as long as the person who holds the belief true accepts it with their whole heart. Illusions are the shadows that the fearful throw upon anything that they cannot physically justify. Some may say that it is the greatest foolishness of all to believe that we have some element of control over our lives, that they are not being dictated by an ultimate force. They have created for themselves an illusion of irresponsibility. They do not wish to acknowledge that they are alone in their existence, and the ability to alter it...for better or worse. That's my opinion. Don't agree? Well maybe I'm living an illusion.

-Jordan Coughenour

Beth said...

In short, I think that people can believe in illusion and accept it as reality because they don't know anything else, and if there is nothing to refute your beliefs, then why not believe in it? An example of this could be the movie "The Matrix" because the robots are controlling everything by creating a simulated world inside everyones' heads and they can't be any the wiser until they're disconnected from the machine.

J.Malone said...

Simple. If illusion is the only thing that you've known for your entire life, then obviously you're going to accept it as reality. It's the only thing you're familiar with and can label as "real." For example, if I grew up being told the color purple was actually the color yellow, I would believe that because of the repetition through which it was taught to me, and even though people would call me stupid for believing such nonsense, it would be the only thing I knew, and the only thing I could relate as being real to me. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

~Clem

J.Malone said...

Sometimes people live and believe in an illusion because of their hopes or desires. Hitler's rise to power deals not only with illusion, but people believing in it. Hitler was telling Germany what they wanted to hear, that germany would become strong again, that they would be great again. Being that Germany was suffering an economic depression and the loss of their empire, what hitler said really got to the Germans. We all kow that Hitler worked greatly with the power of illusion, but that's never enough. You can always create an illusion, but if people don't like the illusion, they won't believe in it, much like a good magic trick.

Rick Andrews

J.Malone said...

I already had a very similar idea in relation to the main point of the "Allegory of the Cave", yet I saw that the darkness is reality, and we have been blinded by the light, which is our hopes and beliefs. The shadows created by our light, is what we fear. By turning off the light, we see what is in the shadows, and by knowing what it is, we are no longer afraid of it. Therefore, if we stop relying on our hopes and beliefs to protect us, we will come to know what is in the shadows, and be unafraid to walk through the darkness of reality. We can only see what is in the aura of our hopes and beliefs, leaving us isolated without a complete understanding of what reality is. Though my idea is different, I can still see that people would much rather believe in the light, or in their shadows as in the "Allegory of the Cave", because it's comforting; they know, and understand it. Reality is beyond their protected aura, and the fear of the unknown prevents them from walking into reality without their light/comfort. Those who are able to see that what they fear is nothing more than the unknown, are also able to see that, like Voldemort, they only fear the unknown because they refuse to see the horrors of reality. People don't want to leave what they know, and to face what they fear.

~Kari Gaalswyk~

ZoeW said...

To me reality is what I have known for a while and illusion is the opposite of it or something imaginary. So if I have been persuaded by something/one or have grown up being told or living with something I think it is reality. For example, in track there was a senior who made out like she was an amazing hurdeler - she said she knew everything and was the fastest. I being a little freshman went along with ti as she was persuasive and scary. At the first meet I soon found out that I was better and she was full of nonsense. This experiece makes me think twice when people tell em something: I try to test out the facts before classifying it as reality.

tsizzinc said...

Oh boy is it easy to believe in illusions, part of the human condition is wanting to believe in something that will benefit yourself. Once one has a strong belief, it is difficult to persuade them otherwise. Well logically, if someone is "right" the chances of survival or social benefits becomes high, thus humans naturally want to be right. If it was a false truth, an illusion, should it be appealing in any way, humans naturally will believe in it and will always value it, in the A. Cave situation, sure one can argue that there is nothing good or beneficial about the situation, however, being chained in front a fire is the only truth exposed to the prisoners. Therefor, the "ignorant" prisoners, due to the human mindset that i've mentioned, demonstrates that they won't easily change their views. now you may argue that if they are told about such "enlightenment" wont they want to believe it? i would argue that yes they would if they have witnessed such "enlightenment", and no if they havent if they are just using their heads. Would you believe that there is a river that flows chocolate and the trees grow candy, probably not if you lived in a society where these ideas seem far fetched and irrational.

tsizzinc said...

im TC by the way, just in case anyone wants to know and cant figure it out. im glad i got an account.

Mr. Pseudonym said...

In response to Mr. Malone's previous assumption that they can feel the shackles, I must ask, can a blind person tell they cannot see? If you had two blind people who had never been told about the electromagnetic spectrum, or whatever would they be conscious of the fact that they can't see? I think in fact that there is some restraint in place to prevent us from seeing the real world, and that because all of us are "blind" to it's existence none of us know about it. Which brings me to the final point of this little rant: everyone believes in illusions. Especially if we take the allegory to be true, then it is fairly inarguable that we all believe in the illusion of existence as we know it, unaware that it is just a shadowy illusion of the true nature of everything.

Seanna said...

Illusions can be very powerful tools. If someone has believed in a reality their whole life (for example the prisoners in the cave who have always been in darkness/illusion)that is actually an illusion it is still going to be a reality to them. Sometimes even if a person knows that a situation is an illusion and not reality they believe it as a reality because they want it to be a reality. For example, when the prisoners see the light, but still have the urge to retreat back into darkness. The prisoner now knows that there is a reality other than his "reality," that is actually an illusion, but he wants his reality to still be a reality because that is what he knows. Everyone has believed in some kind of an illusion in their life that they thought was a reality. Realities can be different to different people so an illusion to one person could be a reality to another. For all we know we could be living in a world of illusion. We could be one of the prisoners that is in the dark. Is this life/society really a reality or could it be an illusion similar to the cave?

Simone S. said...

Wow, I'm a bit freaked out now...Is everything an illusion? Is nothing true? Can we ever say for sure that something is definitely without a doubt true? And what if we just progress from one cave of illusion to the next? When will we know when we arrive at truth? How do we know what we know if we don't know what we don't know? Hmmmmm....

Seanna said...

I don't think that everything is an illusion. There are some definite truths that I believe in, but what you have to ask yourself is if these truths are simply part of or based off of an illusion? I don't think that we can say without a doubt that something is true because truths depend on certain people, something might be true to one person while being an illusion to another. Your idea about progressing from one cave to the next is very interesting. I have never thought about the possibility of coming from a world of illusion to another world of illusion. I don't think it is possible to know what reality is and if you are truly in reality. I am not sure if we know anything for certain. I think we form our own knowledge and believes based on society, our personality, authority figures, etc. Great questions!

katrina337 said...

One time I convinced my friend that I thought the sky was hot pink instead of blue.
Who gets to decide what 'reality' is? I believe that everyone has a different perception of the world, what I say is red and what someone else says is red, they might actually view as what I would call blue. But we wouldn't know the difference, because we've been taught that it is red. Basically, there isn't one 'reality,' everything is an illusion we choose to believe in in order to have something to hold onto. Which goes along with my theory of sight actually being a crutch.

Pumanupes said...

Any form of brainwashing, convincing someone of something, indoctrination, could be considered relatable to the allegory of the cave.
We've all seen the videos and heard the stories where young children have been taught since they could learn to hate and to do as told by the leaders of armies. They are bred for this purpose, to be haters. That is a reality that is theirs. How can you change the opinion of someone who has lived one way and under one idea for so long? Leaving the cave is not only painful, it causes blindness. It is human instinct to turn away from that pain and confusion and to continue with the way things are and the way we believe things are supposed to be.

KellyR. said...

I think that everyone has illusions, like someday i hope to find the perfect man lol dream on the chances of that happening is so slim, we just have to learn how to face with relaity and know that the truth has to be discovered and faced one day!

katrina337 said...

About the questioning of whether everything is an illusion or not and how will we ever arrive at truth or will we keep going from cave of allusion to cave of allusion (yes I know this is a run-on sentence), I think Robert (Dong, well, I believe it was Robert who brought this up) when he said that he disagrees that it is only one cave, and that there should be multiple passages within the cave so that people can find their own true path. I really liked that bit. In which case, there would be a set path for an individual to follow, but there wouldn't be one, generalized 'reality.'

katrina337 said...

And Kelly, I do believe you could find a perfect man. Maybe not in flawless terms, but someone who is perfect for you...does that even make sense? It kind of depends on how you determine that. And to Nupers, I think that human instinct varies by person. I, for one, can find certain types of pain comforting. And it's not that I'm a masochist (well, to an extent you can argue that all of us are to a certain degree, but I'll leave that to the side), but it's just that I like change, and I'm drawn to it, and even if it creates pain, I consider it to be part of the process of learning about it, and I can deal with it because it helps me to better understand what I'm now looking at. So...I don't know if human nature is such a big part of it. *shrug*

And sorry for the double post, my internet is hiding comments from me today :(

Elliot Ross said...

An illusion that came to mind right away that some people actually believe in is televangelism. This is where faithful Christians go up on stage in front of a televised audience and believe they are submitting themselves to the power of God through the pastor or speaker. The pastor then claims to be receiving information from God himself about the person on stage with him. He begins to reveal intimate facts of the person’s life in a seemingly divine way. The believer on stage with the pastor that is having all these true facts about their life being recited believes that the pastor must really be receiving the information from God. However in reality, the televangelist (the pastor) has done research on the person before they ever got on stage and has an earpiece relaying all of the “divine knowledge” to him on stage. Numerous undercover investigations have discovered this fraud and programs such as Dateline and 20/20 have warned people about these “messengers of God.” Yet for some reason thousands of people continue to believe in televangelists and attend their sermons. This just shows the power of religion and what it can make people believe or choose to believe.

katrina337 said...

That's really interesting, I'd actually never heard of that. My friend, who is pagan, is epileptic (I have a relating point, I swear). One of her mom's boyfriends was a very strong Christian and took my friend to one of those pastors who claim to be able to heal people through the power of God. My friend, seeing as she doesn't believe in the Christian God, didn't believe that it would actually work, but went along with it for the sake of it. She hadn't had a seizure in six months, but as soon as she got home from that session with the pastor, she had a seizure. So my question is, do you think that people who believe things such as that (the pastor healing with the power of God) actually makes people better if they believe it (kind of a placebo type of thing), and that if they strongly disbelieve it it will do the opposite? Or do you think it's completely unrelated? (It kind of has to do with what Elliot posted).

bway_guy said...

I think that the idea of televangelists is a good topic. But I also think that religion itself is a good/relevant illusion overall. Think about it. For years and years and years, people have been believing that, by faith, that some powerful being (God, Alla, etc.) created the world, and that he sent down a prophet/his own son to earth to preach what the powerful being wants you to believe. Now, think about, also, the person who tells the believers these things: a pastor or rabbi or some "authority" on what the powerful being wanted to say and what the being has to say. And people believe that, through faith, the "authority" figure is telling the truth. They believe that, through faith, the objects that the "authority" figure is holding up is really what they are, but when they face the almighty being in person, they can't because of what they were taught about in their lives, and will have to re-learn everything that they were taught through their life. So, my question that I'm stating, I suppose, is that do we believe the things mostly on faith, or do we believe the things that we believe because we know the things because of authority? btb, this is Julian. I don't think that my user name is the same as what I wrote down on the list. If you want to touch on the religion topic, that's fine. Or just talk about the question, that's fine too. I don't care.

Alina Kassenbrock said...

Good thought, Julian.

I have considered many theories for what happens after death, and one I thought of recently, though don't believe to be true myself, is the following.
What if, after death, the inner train of thought continues? Although the brain can no longer control the body, which is truly dead, the mind's consciousness remains functioning. After the first few minutes of being unable to use the senses, the mind would get bored, and continue to get proportionally more bored as more time passed. (Certainly, it would, said Glaucon. What are you doing here? said Alina, Shove off and get your own ruddy blog!) Over time, the mind would begin to amuse itself with imagination, spending time in a self-created world with the sole purpose of passing the endless time. At first, the mind would be able to tell the difference between the imagination world and the real world, but since the real world would be so mind numbingly dull, the mind would spend more and more time in the imaginary world of its creation. Perhaps in this imaginary world, people would die and be able to end the everlasting boredom, a very appealing thought to the mind, which has now become entirely tired of senselessness. At some crucial point, the worlds switch: the imagination world, because it has a purpose, becomes reality, and the senselessness becomes imagination. Sometimes, the mind would slip back into senselessness for a short amount of time, and feel senselessness again, or even create other, smaller scale imaginary worlds. But eventually, the mind would return to the original imagination world: the return to senselessness would be called sleep, and the other imaginary worlds would be called dreams.

Perhaps this has already happened.
Illusion must arise within the mind, no one else can put it there as long as it is not accepted.

penguin said...

Last year in psychology we were introduced to a woman who had multiple personalities. If I remember correctly, she had five different personalities. These personalities were unique in the fact that they traveled everywhere that she went. I asked here where they were standing in the room and she said that they were standing in a circle by the door talking. This was her reality. These other personalities would follow her around and occasionally take her place. It was very interesting because she accepted this as her reality. She "knew" that these people were with her everywhere. The most interesting is that she knew that no one else could see these people but she was fine with that. This was her reality and to the rest of us it was just an illusion that we could not see. I asked what would happen if someone were to run into one of her personalities and she said that it never happens because they are expert navigators. I respect her a lot because she realizes that we cannot see these other personalities but she is fine with that. Even though we live in the same world we both have different realities. Overall it is possible to have a reality that may appear as an illusion to someone else. We must accept that different people have different realities.

-Graham P

Rachel said...

Probably not for the first time this year of TOK, my head is spinning. For all we know, we could all be among the ranks of those chained to the wall of a dark cave, fixating on passing shadows. How do we know that anything we know is real, as oppossed to illusion. At the same time, how do you know what enlightenment is when you find it. What if you mistake it for an illusion, like the guy in the Allegory, who chose fire as reality, instead of the sun. This brings to mind a teacher I had in fourth grade, or was it third? I don't know. Anyway, she had this weird contraption that she put a red and white stripped peppermint into. A series of mirrors projected the image up to the top of the container so that the mint, which was really down at the bottom of the bowl looked like it was resting on top. The only reason I knew it was an illusion was because I tried to take it, but my had passed right through. The real mint and the mirror mint were looked exactly the same, except for one was real and one was not.

KellyR. said...

I think anyone who thinks they can really see a reality is in there own illusion. Everyone has there own illusion, this is what, personally, keeps us moving foward in life and motivated to do what is best. People have illusions that they can do what ever they please but the reality is that they have keep in mind that there are other people in this world.

Kenshin_Himura said...

Well, I can even see the "Allegory of the Cave" is a slightly different manner.
I see two different illusions.
The first one is clearly the people in the cave.
But, I also believe there is a second illusion. After one of the prisoners is let free, he is in another illusion.
The reason for this is that there could clearly be another larger space around him.
For example, in the story, he sees the world around him. He witnesses everything from the stars to his reflection in the water.
However, he has no clue that the Earth is just another part of the universe. So, one can show that he is ignorant to the universe around him, much like the people in the cave were oblivious to the outside world.

bway_guy said...

But, one thing that I've always wondered while reading T.A.O.C. was the question of: Is there only one person in the cave, and there are multiple caves in this little world that Plato is writing about? Or is there tons of people in one cave, and that the person holding the objects is telling the masses what the objects are. If there is only one person in the cave, then it raises an interesting point. Do you think that the person holding the objects up and telling the prisoner(s) what they are are the prisoners who've already been enlightened, and are sharing the true "knowledge" with the rest of the prisoners. In my T.O.K. class, I brought up the point of Prometheus bringing fire from Olympus to the mortals, and having a price to pay (i.e. being banished from Olympus). Do you think the "educators" have a price to pay by sharing the true knowledge? The price of only showing shadows to the prisoner(s) on a cave wall and having them hear the echoes of your voice bouncing off of the walls? It's interesting because, no matter how much authority a person has (and yes, even you Mr. Malone and Mrs. King), they can never give the "prisoner(s)" the true knowledge and what it truly is. That's why the light is soooo bright to the prisoner(s) when they face the light. Because he/she/they have grown up only thinking that what the prisoner(s) have known is shadows on the wall and echoes bouncing to them. I just thought that might be an interesting topic.

Rebecca said...

Funny enough, I’d just come from Psychology before encountering this question. We’d watched a video all about aliens and how people in Roswell had discovered “alien debris”. It turned out that all it was were the remains of a weather balloon and there is concrete evidence that proves it. However, the people of Roswell refuse to believe that it was anything but aliens even though it’s obviously an illusion. People believe what they want to believe. If a person really truly wants to believe an illusion, then there is no force on earth that will change his mind.

Adrienne said...

I guess one of the only things I can think of that would seem like an illusion to me but would be reality to someone else would be the suicide bombers. They apparently think that by bombing a bus or a car or a building is helping their cause. That is reality to them, where to me and to many other people it is an illusion. It could be because we didnt grow up in a world where we are encouraged to take drastic measures to get our point across. However, I dont feel like it is helping at all. Their reality is my illusion, it is just really unfortunate that hundreds of people have to die because of it.

C1assyMassey said...

I agree with Rebecca that if a person wants to believe an illusion, then they will. I think that illusions are only what people really want to believe in, even if they are not logical or do not otherwise make sense. For example, I was watching this movie on Lifetime about this girl in high school, and all her friends start to hate her. Then one of her ex-friends acts really nice to her, inviting her to a party, and the girl has the 'illusion' that this ex-friend is her friend again, but the ex-friend was messing with her head, and had no intention of actually being nice to her. The main girl had this illusion because she wanted so badly to believe that she had friends again, when it was pretty obvious to the viewers that there was no way that this ex-friend suddenly changed her mind and wanted to be friends with her again. The end.

mantolin said...

Santa is an example of believing in something so fiercely that even the truth is painful when it comes out. Santa is a scary proposition to kids. Even the mall Santas who smell like mushrooms and public restrooms are intimidating, not because of their smell, but because meeting Santa is a daunting thought. Santa instills fear in children. He takes people’s cookies. He is an overweight man who miraculously breaks into people’s houses, and if the kids who live there are naughty, then they get barbecue fuel instead of real presents, granted some children might desire such cooking accessories as coal. A real life example of this kind of blind belief in a man in a tacky suit is my younger sister. When she was even younger than she is now, probably six or seven, our parents would pay her to wrap presents for them when they didn’t have time to do it themselves. The funny thing is that she never even blinked when the same presents that she had wrapped up the week before magically appeared under the Christmas tree with Santa’s credit attached to them. My point is that she was so wrapped up in the idea of Santa and his magic that she never put the two things together. She didn’t recognize the things that she had done herself when they were under the tree. Under the tree was Santa’s magic, and it was in the half-eaten cookies, and the missing carrots that we had left out the night before, and the footprints made of ash and snow on the carpet leading out of the fireplace.

elainarae said...

If someone never experiences anything beyond one perception or way of thinking, there is no way for them to know it may be wrong. If you live in a family where something like homosexuality is constantly condemned, and your family lives in a small town in say, Wyoming, where no one else ever disputes the view, you can easily never consider another way of thinking about it as possibly right.

rlevy said...

It is very possible for people to believe in illusion and accept it as reality. Given a misrepresentation and being told that it is true can deceive many people. For example the bible can give an illusion that Christianity is the only religion. Yet in reality there are hundreds of other religions (from Buddhism to Islam). If you choose to believe an illusion, it can become a reality for you. Another personal example of this is that I believe that the best color in the world is orange, yet, this has eluded me because in reality there are many fantastic colors in the world. Even though I know there are many colors in the world, I prefer to stay close-minded and accept orange as the best color.

StarD said...

Technically many people still believe in illusion and accept it as reality. When you are born you see everything and you are told whats right and whats wrong. If you see illusion as reality then, you probably still see illusion as reality.

SamE said...

About the Bible...

The Bible, and especially the Old Testament, makes it very clear that there are other gods to follow. The first commandment forbids such religious adultery. Elijah challenges and triumphs over the prophets of Baal, one of those gods whose followers never seem to go away. When the ark of the covenant is stolen in 1 Samuel, and placed in the temple of the Philistine god Dagon, the statue of Dagon is found the next morning face down in reverence to the ark. There are many other gods mentioned in the Bible, but in every case, these "gods" are nothing but statues compared to the real God.

About illusions/reality...

Don't make the jump and say that everything is an illusion. Illusions have to be wrong, and something can only be wrong if it can be compared with what we call reality. One definition of reality is something that is not an illusion, so you cannot say that "reality is an illusion."

On a related note, we really need to define illusion. Merriam Webster (an authority I trust most of you recognize) gives several definitions, but the ones we are concerned with involve deception or misleading, indicating that all illusions involve the intentional actions of others. This does not appear to be the definition many of you are utilizing. Instead, and I know this is a bit of an exaggeration, your definition is "anything that is seen through a subjective perspective or relies on authority for verification." If that was the definition of illusion, I would have no problem believing that all of us treat illusion as reality. But that's not illusion.

About the Allegory of the Cave...

I made the claim earlier (under Mr. Malone's username) that the prisoners know that they are being restrained from seeing behind them by their chains, and Wolf responded with the rhetorical question, "Can a blind person tell they cannot see?". I realize the connection drawn, but at the same time, there is a difference. The people in the cave can touch, and the chains must not be so tight as to cut off their circulation, so they must have some (small) degree of movement. This restriction in movement, indicated by pain, they can realize. Blind people's eyes, on the other hand, as far as I know, do not hurt when they 'try' to see.

Also, I find it interesting that Plato basically assumes that the objects presented to the cavemen and the sounds associated with them follow some sort of pattern, which these cavemen pick up on and can predict. Why?

About the question...

From Plato's (or Socrates's) explanation of the allegory of the cave, these people do not necessarily take the illusion presented to them (and it is an illusion) as reality, if they are logical. Are logical people always right? No, but they are hard to deceive, at least repeatedly. Illogical people open up a world of different possibilities.

shilpa said...

Going back to what Sam said, I agree that definitions need to be given regarding what an illusion is and what reality is. However, reality, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. What one person may believe to be an illusion, could be another person's reality for it is our justifications that lead us to truth. But, is there really truth? In relation, to the Allegory of the Cave, it is possible to believe that illusion is reality. For instance, the people in the cave thought that what they saw was reality because they didn't have anything to compare it with. In the modern day world, there are still people who fail to realize, or simply don't know, the vastness of the world and the numerous variety of individuals that are present in our global community because they are in their "own little world". Therefore, at times, even we, either knowingly or unknowingly, think that our own world is the only world or that the illusion we face daily is reality.

RickHajost said...

A great example of how some people can believe in illusion and believe it as reality is in present day North Korea. About a year ago I watched a show on the National Geographic Channel about the country and it talked about how impoverished and terrible of a country it was, yet at the same time the people worshipped Kim Jong Ill as a god. It was unbelievable to me that someone who is part of a regime that has done so little to help its citizens and has even refused international food for its citizens could be worshipped, however humans are succeptible to brainwashing.

klneff said...

The ideas of science vs. religion is hugely illusional to me. I'm a very logic based person when it comes to creation, but I'm def. not atheist either. From this somewhat neutral stand-point I feel safe saying that both are indeed, extremely illusional. Science can be explained by theories and evidence, but truly only so far. I suppose this is where religion and faith can take over. Religion, like science, can only take us so far, and therefore they truly cannot exist without the other. Because the human species is such an inquisitive breed (yes, I just called us a breed) we stive for the answers, and truthfully, we don't have them all. Because we have such an inability to uncover "the truth" (or I suppose the "light" in the allegory of the cave...) we use means of science and religion to help back us up and to carry us as far as we can go. I suppose to wrap this up, I'll say that we often believe what we choose, and that is the trick of the allegory of the cave. We may all be right, but at the same time wrong.

katrina337 said...

In regards to what Sam said; Yes, illusion is thought to be wrong (even though I don't regard Merriam Webster as an authoritative source, I believe it has lied to me for all of my life. Seriously), but who gets to decide what's 'wrong'? If there's no one to tell you what you perceive is wrong, do you even have the problem of illusion vs reality?
I do like what Kate said about us all being right and wrong.

IAmbrooKe said...

I think a lot of us believe in allusion subconsciously, but if we were to stop and think, we could realize that it is only an unjustified allusion. This isn't to say that all allusions are unjustified by any means, just that sometimes our comfort level or lack of caring to change keeps us inside an allusion, even if it can't be proven to be resemblant of reality...not that this is necessarily a bad thing, I mean there's nothing saying that we need to know what's true...as far as religion, as was mentioned, this is something we can't necessarily justify with impirical evidence, but it can still be someone's reality, not an allusion to them, but it could be an allusion to another person. I agree with Shilpa that part of the reason that the prisoners in the allegory of the cave see "allusions" is because they don't know anything else....isn't that how it is for us lal though? It's safe to say that none of us know anything, so odn't we all see allusions to a certain extent?

IAmbrooKe said...

*laughs* let me try that last part again:
I think it's safe to say that none of us know everything, so aren't we all dwelling within the walls of allusion to a certain extent all of our lives?
hehehe there we go!

katiechil said...

I think that an illusion can be accepted as reality by people in cases where propaganda is used to successfully sway public opinion (whether for good or bad). An example where propaganda is used to promote ideas that could negatively impact those who believe in it, is the government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, which has over time obtained control of the majority of major media outlets in the country to spread the dictator's beliefs to the people. Whether or not, you agree with his opinions, having only one voice speaking through the media impedes upon people's ability to compare alternate views, thus leaving many of the people to accept his word (the illusion) as the truth (the reality).

SamanthaJo said...

Illusions can be accepted as realities because sometimes people choose ignorance. If it's easier to accept the illusion, then why not just ignore the truth? For example, when someone sees how gluttonous Americans are, it is a reasonable assumption that everyone in the world has large amounts of food available to them. Many people know, however, that there are millions of people around the world who are starving. For those who pretend that those who are starving don't exist, it is easier to live their lives eating Big Macs than think about those who are less fortunate and feel guilt of not doing anything about it.

Wyatts. said...

Weapons of mass destruction in iraq? By giving the illusion that such weapons existed, the public had reason to support a war.

crista said...

To believe in illusion is simply to unrealistically hope for something. I think a perfect example of this is love. One person can feel something totally different, but if these feelings are not reciprocated by the other person, the emotion has no grounds, and is no more than a flicker of something in just that one person's mind.

AnnieP said...

It seems to me that many people believe illusions are bad, and that people should be enlightened. I am wondering though, if people's illusions don't hurt others, and they make that person happy, then why are they such a bad thing?

Onnolee said...

I think the saying "seeing is believing" applies here, because the people in the cave only know the shadows, so they don't think that what they are seeing is an illusion. The cave people are seeing what they have known for their entire life, and so they don't dout it. An example of only seeing what you know is when you look at an optical illusion, if you are not familiar with it, then you may not see the trick at first, but if you have seen similar illusions you might get it faster.

susanna.w said...

People believe in illusions and accept them as reality usually when there's nothing else more truthful or whole. Such as in the case of the Allegory of the Cave, the shadows are not entirely false illusions - just imprints or impressions of reality. Some people believe in part of the truth.

One example is in the case of the book, The Giver. In this book, the whole world is in black and white, but no one actually knows that that's only part of reality until the main character is able to see color. Black and white is not entirely false, simply an imprint of true reality. So technically, to the people in the city, they are not seeing the illusion, simply the truth, reality, and all they know. Only in cases where people have seen something bigger or better than the so-called illusion will all be revealed. The world was made to be that way in order to benefit society. I believe that illusions may be instigated in order to better society but at some point a greater reality will reveal itself and push out the old illusion.

Notbenkessler said...

Allegory of the Cave:
Like Plato’s "Metaphor of the Sun" this gives the reader a view into the world of a man without answers. Wait, what the hell am I talking about? I guess a connection I can make is the movie Elf, y'all ever seen it? The main character thinks life is a certain way, and that the rest of world thinks as he does. This sheltering gives the impression that ignorance is bliss, when really if the whole world were ignorant, we would still have wars, and fights over our ignorance. What I’m typing doesn't make sense to me, but I think I'll give it a few days.

Mr. T said...

It's the age old question: is it better to live in ignorance and be happy, or to know the truth and be miserable? Of course, in the Allegory of the Cave the answer is obivous, seeing as the two options are come into the light, or be chained up and look at shadows all day.

I remember somebody in our class brought up the example "What if there was a guy who had terminal cancer, and then he didn't know about it, so he lived his final days free from worry?" I disagree with this, because instead of being blind to impending doom and wasting my final days, I would rather know taht my death was at hand and make sure that I could make my final days meaningful. This is definitely one case where it's best to not be blind to something.

I pity the fool who don't come into the light!
~T

Rebecca S. said...

I think some examples of this can be seen just looking back through the "Truth?" blog. Everyone had experiences that they truly thought something was real. Of course, this is more when we were younger and more naive. But connecting the "Allegory of the Cave" to people that are older and supposedly less naive, I think we do see these illusions percieved as reality. One example I can think of is how many other countries view Americans. I know in Iraq, children are taught Americans are bad and evil, so when 9/11 occured, there was footage of Iraqis celebrating. Of course, all of us being American, we know that not all Americans are evil. The people that died in the World Trade Centers did not deserve it as many non-Americans believed.

Believing things that aren't true mostly come from not being exposed to certain things. I don't believe that Iraqis are bad just because they hate Americans; but I do think they have been misled. It's a belief to them, but haven't been exposed to something to let them see the oposite. They've been taught it their whole lives.

People used to believe the world was flat and we lived in a geocentric universe. Of course, they didn't know better, until more technology or discoveries came along. It's easy to believe these things when the reality isn't even a thought to most people.

AmyLM said...

As others before me have done, I would like to bring up the question "is ignorance bliss". I think that sometimes people can accept an illusion as their reality because they either don't know anything else or because the truth is too painful. Since we are studying Columbus in history right now, I'll use him as an example. He set out to discover India and instead found America. He had failed and that knowledge was undoubtedly extremely painful. Instead of accepting the numerous facts right in front of him he convinced himself that he truly was successful in his mission, it was just too hard for him to imagine that he hadn't in fact triumphed.

pjuang said...

I'm also proposing the "ignorance is bliss." Along with this argument I would say the quote, "with great power comes great responsibility" In our society we also say that knowledge is power, so in turn with great knowledge comes great responsibility. So, I think that it can be true that reality or englightenment can often be a burden. I also think that it is important to differentiate between ignorance and innocence. For example, those who choose to believe illusions as reality are more ignorant than innocent because they posses the ability and knowledge of things that are outside of their beliefs, but choose not to pursue it.

Anna said...

Where is the line drawn between illusion and reality, if there even is one? I really like Katrina337's question: Who gets to decide what 'reality' is? I suppose it depends on the person in question, because something could be reality for one person and an illusion for another. Could something qualify as both reality and illusion in one's mind?

Kaci said...

We all have beliefs and especially when we were little those beliefs can be illusions. I think that people accept the illusion because it is easier than to see the reality. Reality can be a scary and a hard place to go, it is way more comfortable to revert back to those ‘realities’ that are really illusions. Change can be hard and the illusions are what was known and are stable. This goes to the saying “ignorance is bliss”

Julia said...

Religion can be an illusion because there is no logical proof, but is based on the justifications of faith and revelation, but what about the religions that teach logical laws and morals. Not all religions are based on the worship of a god but instead thez focus on living zour life. Zes thez do have religious figures that are look at as a guiding figure, but thez teach things that have been morall accepted because thez are logical.

Janna said...

As many other people have said already, I think it is very possible to believe that an illusion is reality. I think that to believe something is reality, you need to have a reference point and if the reference point someone is basing their belief off of is also part of the illusion then I think it is very natural for them to believe that the illusion is their reality.

emillyzhu said...

you don't know what you don't know...just like you don't remember what you can't remember (harry potter, remembrall...never quite understood the purpose of one of those) anyway, my point is that we don't know what the truth is, we just have to take that leap of faith and believe that what is in front of us is indeed the truth. we don't know if it's an allusion or not...If someone lived on the side of the moon that never faced the earth, they would never know the existence of the earth. They don't even have an allusion thst there is an earth

Sierra Tamkun said...

If the person knows nothing else, then the illusion is their reality. We are not psychic beings, we only have what we see, or what we are told about, to guide us, most of the time. Of course, there are instances of intuition and instinct, but it takes alot to really listen to these aspects of our minds, when it is perhaps being contradicted by what we see. So, if the illusion is all that is presented, and the person is never even aware that something different exists, then would they not believe that the illusion was in fact reality? Would they have any reason not to believe it?

sgreenlee said...

Since the person has never experienced the reality, how could they conceive that their truth is merely illusion? If people strongly believe something, it may be possible that their faith in the illusion shelters the fear of discovering truth. Just a thought.

mosesman said...

Well what about "magic"? For centuries humanity has been fascinated by which they do not understand, in the form of magical illusions. Why is there such a interest in a art where the viewers know prior to the performance that what they are going to witness is not , for lack of a better word, real.

Paige C. said...

I think that every single one of our responses to the question “What is something that you thought to be true but later learned was not?” poised on this blog demonstrates our ability to believe in illusion and accept it as reality. As we grow older, hindsight allows us to see all the things that we accepted that now appear to be false. But just five minutes from now, someone could post on this blog and explain to me logically that I am wrong. Who knows, I may even accept their answer as authority, and so accept it as my reality, therefore discarding my previous “illusion.” It is all about perspective…or is it?

Griff said...

It is simple. People tend to see/hear what they want. I can believe that people even create their own illusions just be jubilant. A strong belief or want could fuel this imagination. I can personally concieve this image because of just how bad ive wanted something. I think that others could relate.

R_Dong said...

I think that it is easy to believe in illusion and accept it as reality. If you have little to no information about the subject then you are more likely to accept what is said to be fact, maybe a mere illusion, as reality.

A great example of this is magic. When kids are small they don't have enough information about the world to try and understand the process behind the illusion. Therefore, they accept that there is magic in the world as they have no justifications to make them believe otherwise. To them that water really did disappear when they closed their eyes. (You of course drank the water, but they don't know or have any information to suggest otherwise.)

Thus, when people are ignorant of the facts surrounding the event, they are more likely to accept it as reality even if it is an illusion. This explains why people believe certain things like the media, your history teacher explaining how "swell" Columbus was, and Mr. Plato. People don't have enough information or have gathered enough viewpoints to give them reason not to believe.

Just like writing a political history paper (which is extremely tedious and painful). Points of view are so corrupted with bias, personal opinion, and motives that a variety of viewpoints must be gathered to uncover the "truth."

Another long comment by R_Dong

Nick said...

I think a major reason why people believe in illusion rather than accept reality is that illusion is often much simpler and more ideal. Reality is often times harder to understand and much harsher. For example, a child can choose to believe in a magic fairy that gives him a dollar for his lost tooth, or that his parents have lied to him for the past 8 years. The first idea is slightly more appealing.
Another reason why people sometimes believe in illusions is because they misinterpret information. For example, for hundreds of years, people believed the earth was flat. Using perception, the earth does appear flat. However, logically we can understand how the earth is round based on science and mathematics, which is supported by the authority of astronauts who have seen that the earth is round.

Kendra said...

People can believe in illusion and accept it as reality because people will not know any other reality if all that is presented to them is an illusion. People used to think that the earth was flat, not because they were ignorant, but because they accepted an illusion as reality. When this belief was dismissed, the illusion was made clear and it was not believed as reality anymore.

asseal_a said...

Honestly and truly, when I saw the question for this blog topic, the first thing I thought of was color. Physics and scientific evidence have told us that it's based on the reflection of light and how the eye reacts to a certain object. Yet I feel that it is an illusion accepted as a reality because people have grown adapted to it and cannot sustain living without it, not solely because science dictates such an idea. Therefore, color is accepted as a reality in this instance because man apparently needs it to continue living. The illusion could be that it exists before us psychologically and scientifically, but does it really exist at all, or is it just an illusion we don't want to lose? Very perplexing...any comments?

LL Cool J said...

I agree with Ethan. Who's to say that TRUTH and ILLUSION cannot substitute each other in meaning?

I really like that you brought up COLORS Asseal. Haven't you ever thought what makes something green to you? And who's to say that your "GREEN" isn't someone else's "TEAL?" Additionally, what makes someone BEAUTIFUL to one person and UGLY to the next? Which statement is TRUE?

Mandie said...

I think that this kind of goes into the notion of how authority can dictate what you believe. Consequently, this authority figure becomes a justification for that believe, allowing it to be interpreted as actual knowledge.

wwJacobi said...

I think that this ties in nicely with the idea of using faith as a means of justifying knowledge. As it was brought up in class earlier this week, it is absolutely necessary that all humans rely (at least to some extent) on faith, and use this as a basis on which to build other knowledge founded more in logic and empirical evidence. Take for example advanced mathematical proofs. No matter how complex, obscure, and hard to follow they are, they all come down to relying on basic mathematical truths that we take for granted (i.e. 1+1=2, etc). These truths themselves are based somewhat in faith. Although many would argue that logic and empirical evidence prove these true, I would say that it takes faith to rule out the possibility of a flawed reality or a crucial mathematical truth that we know nothing of. And it may be that we are living and functioning in some sort of false reality, as the people tied in the cave were doing. However, at least we ARE functioning, no matter how skewed our perception of the world is. I would much rather live a potentially false life than refuse to have faith in our view of the world and remain stagnant.

KatiZ said...

One realization that I made this summer is that my grandmother is extremely ignorant of other cultures. She grew up her whole life in Kansas City, has never left the U.S. and has only been to about three other states. She isn't really the type to have a lot of friends and she barely got a high school degree. The pursuit of knowledge doesn't really interest her, which is fine for some people, but I was shocked to learn how judgmental she can be. She watches tv shows like Cops and comedian shows, which only enforce the race stereotypes in our society. Unfortunately my grandmother hasn't had the same education that I have been so lucky to get so she believes almost everything she sees on tv. I was horrified when they arrested a Hispanic man on the show Cops and my grandma said something to the effect of "If they just shipped them all back to Mexico this wouldn’t' happen". I was so shocked that a member of my family would say something like that I didn't know what to do. And although I tried arguing with her about it she is so set on her beliefs that she won't even listen to what other points of it are. She accepts her illusion of every ethnic group fitting exactly into the common stereotype for them to the point where it is a reality for her.

LizaM said...

I think that people can accept an illusion as reality when they are only given the illusion to believe in, or if that's what they have faith in. Across different cultures people practice various customs that we may perceive as an illusion, but since that's where there faith is to them it's their reality.

Kacey said...

I was approaching this text with an already-formed opinion of it, because I was taught “Allegory of the Cave” in my Catholic religious ed class. In that class, my teacher came to his obvious conclusion that being freed from chains and walking from the cave into the light is like discovering Catholicism. However, it could be just as easily stated that being trapped in the cave is analogous to having Catholic dogma pounded into you since childhood, and that walking into the light is like discovering the truth of atheism. Thus, illusion and reality can be easily confused.

Mary said...

What I took away from "Allegory of the Cave" was that enlightenment is not necessarily casting off an illusion but more being exposed to a different perspective. This does not mean that one has to accept different beliefs, just that they are aware of them. After all, who can say what is an illusion and what's not? To do so would be holding an illusion that one has the power to dictate how others think. Reality is nothing but what one person believes; enlightenment, on the other hand, is believing one thing but also being aware of how others believe. The dark of the cave is when the man is not exposed to what is casting the shadows on the wall. His going out of the cave and into the light is him gaining the knowledge of what is casting the shadows. However, he does not stop believing that the shadows on the wall exist; he just feels pity for those for whom the shadows are the only thing they see. For example, I know that stars are basically just fumes and debris in space, while someone who is not aware of the scientific aspect of stars might think that they are pinpricks of light. Just because I know what is causing the pinpricks of light does not mean that I do not think the pinpricks of light exist.

kyle said...

A lot of people our raised to be a CHristian of some sort, the "right" Christiasn i guess, and believe in god. I think this is a degrading as well egocentric illusion

jeewonk said...

I thought about the book Anthem (yes, i know, a summer reading book, but whatever) when I was reading the Allegory of Cave. Everyone is content with what they have and no one questions the authority. If they knew such technology existed, my guess is that they wouldn't have stayed ignorant. People can and will believe an illusion because they don't know anyhting else. If they don't know what to "know" as a "truth", they don't have to seek out to look for the "truth" because what they know comforts them.

katrina337 said...

Sometimes it's better to live in an illusion. I'm reading a book called American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and in it there's this guy named Shadow, and he spends 3 years in jail. (I swear I'm going somewhere with this) He gets out a couple days early, and when he gets out he finds out that his wife and old business partner have both died recently. So he goes to his wife's wake, and the wife of his business partner person spits on his wife's face, and he's like, wth did you do that for? and she tells him that his wife was cheating on him with her husband, and his mentality's just like (sorry, I'm using like a lot) "I've just been in prison for 3 years, my wife and friend just died, why did you have to tell me that?!" Because...he only had precious few good memories, and he'd rather have lived with that illusion that his wife wasn't cheating on him forever than have to have his memories tainted with something like that.

Todd said...

I believe that some people are able to live in an illusion because they choose to for whatever reason. It's not like we're living in complete reality either. We tend to, at times, believe what we want to believe or believe what the general public believes. Asseal brought up the subject of colors, which is a good example for this. Color is supposedly "proven" by science and accepted by the population, but how do we really know that a color, green, is actually green. Really, there is no absolute or defined truth, or reality, we choose to accept certain things and reject others and who is it to say what we accept or reject is an illusion or reality?

kristina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kristina said...

Illusion can be easily accepted as truth simply because sometimes illusions are far more comforting than truth, like in the "allegory of the cave" even though the people trapped inside were blind to the outside and to what the shadows really were, it was far more "comfortable" because it was all they knew
Personally, i think that being outside of your comfort zone really causes you to learn a lot, but many people are very afraid to change their usual ways and i think this relates to the cave as far as the light and the shadows being knowledge, sometimes knowledge is a very uncomfortable thing

Stitches said...

Finally... I got signed in!! Anyways, I think that everyone accepts illusion as reality to some degree, because everyone has their own set mental picture of how they think the world works. If something doesn't quite fit that picture, they choose only to see the sides of it that do, thereby creating illusion and accepting it as reality. One such example would be that of any zealot. They believe in something so strongly that they have radically altered perceptions of the world, accepting things we know to illusion as reality.

Sara said...

I think I'm just restating what everyone else has said in some way or another, but how do I know the life I am living is reality? Illusion? Am I really wearing a blue shirt, or is it actually a gaudy floral pattern? A simple illusion that I remember strongly from my childhood is the tooth fairy, and how I found out it was actually my dad after he forgot to put the coin under my bed for days after I had lost my tooth...

lee woo said...

No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky. See the link below for more info.

#chained
www.ufgop.org