Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Allegory of the Cave" Question #2

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

86 comments:

Matt Beall said...

Our understanding of life is always going to be limited. No one knows everything, we can only work to try to understand more. Using this idea, I think that an 'illusion' may seem a reality, just because we can not understand any different.

I am sure we all have seen a magician or illusionist at some point in our life. These people literally create illusions and want you to believe it as reality. Different people react different ways, the most common is something like "Wow, how did (s)he do that?" We ask how, because we have accepted the act as reality. We do not understand how it can be so, but we accept it as real, for "to see is to believe." However, if we come to understand, and maybe even learn the trick, no longer do we see it as reality, we see it as a way to twist reality.

Noah P said...

When exposed to nothing else in your life, you are bound to accept what you've always known as fact. If you have always been told that something is true and have never had any evidence that it is not true, you will most likely believe this to be true.

Lauren P said...
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Audrey said...

I think it's really easy to live in an illusion and believe that it's reality. Everyone can probably think of trivial examples of this from their own lives; one example from history is the rise of Spiritualism in the 1800s, during which time many people believed that mediums could communicate with spirits. Disregarding the issue of whether some of the more convincing were fakes or not, many prominent spirit mediums were exposed as frauds, some of whom had convinced hundreds of people of their abilities to speak with spirits. The Fox sisters of New England are one example of this; they were shown to be making the uncanny rapping noises with which they communicated by popping their joints, but they had been so convincing that many people refused to believe it when the truth was exposed.

Liz I. said...
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Dylan Sublette said...

People for the most part beleive what we see so if all we see are ilusions than that is what we believe. Also if you know nothing else then what you do know is your reality, even if it is not the 'true' reality. Like in the "Allegory of the Cave" where the people are walking behind them with items, the shadows they see on the walls are their reality. They accept this reality becase they have no knowlege of any thing else and who knows even if they did they could prefer being ignorant, finding it easyer than than confronting the truth.

Pfiester said...

I believe that it is fairly easy for people to believe in illusion and accept it as reality. Once a person is concinced that the illusion is truth, it becomes reality for them. For instance take the placebo effect. If there is a person who genuinely believes in the power of the Christian tv ministers to shake the devil (usually their specific ailment such as arthritis or cancer) out of their body because they have deep connection to the Christian faith, then when they are 'healed' by the minister, they actually believe that they are healthy once more. This mode of thinking can be so powerful that it can physically alter their body and help to relieve the person of their sickness. If said person believes their arthritis is gone and they can walk once more without a walker, it will begin to be true for them and they will find it easier to walk unassisted.
Once the illusion becomes true to them, it can even physically manifest itself as their reality.

Cynthia Santos said...

Well in this case the prisoner doesn't know that it is an illusion. He believes it to be a reality. Sometimes the things that are shown to us or explained to us as true we believe unconditionally, at the time it's what makes sense. For example, following a religion. I'm not saying that religion is an illusion but when a person is brought up in that belief we follow it. Whether or not its an illusion or reality is up to what happens later on in life. Later on that same person could find that the religion they always believed in was flawed in their eyes and they are presented to something new that does seem like the truth. In other now that is their reality and just like before the follow it and believe in it.

Tess Santangelo said...

it is possible because it is hard for anyone to give up thier beliefs so rather than give up thier beliefs completely they will just accept the truth. this is almost a defense mechanism and a way to be agreeable without actualy "listening" to new truths

LN* said...

I agree with Noah...even if your life revolves around illusion, this illusion is your reality. Often we are told/taught things that aren't necessarily the truth, but we often take them to be fact. Until challenged, one could live ones entire life surrounded by illusion. Building on this, anything could be an illusion...you never know...the goal that Fossil Ridge scored last night wasn't actually real...:)Ellen

Amelia A. said...
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Ali said...

In the case of the Allegory, i think that people can believe the false reality only because that's the only thing they've known for their enire lives. If, for say, you grew up having your parents tell you that the world is flat, and you never saw a globe, a map, or heard anyone else talk about it, you'd believe with your entire heart that the world is flat.

and one day, someone says: "the world is round", of course you won't believe it, because you've never seen or heard of that before.

so of course, if you were born in the cave, see only the cave, hear only of the cave, and nothing else.... all you know is the cave.

Hannah said...

I think everyone on here has said the same things I would say. If you've been exposed to something all your life and been told it is true all your life, most likely you will believe it is true even if it isn't. If you don't know it's an illusion it's easy to believe in it and accept it as reality. Like Mrs. King said in class, an example is the belief that the sun revolved around the Earth. People believed that and had no problem with it because at the time, all evidence proved that it was true. Even though it was an illusion, it was easy for people to accept it as reality because it was all they knew and had been told by authority figures and it was all they had experienced.

Lindsey Goris said...

In the allegory of the cave the people had known nothing but the shadows. Similarly when people have only seen one perspective and accepted one thing for their whole lives it's a huge shock to learn that something else might be true, and people might have a hard time accepting it simply because it is differant, especially if it contradicts everything that they have always thought they knew. Also, it's a lot easier to just deny anything new, rather than question what you have already accepted. So basically people beleive what they want to beleive even if they have all evidence to the contrary, and people don't like to change their system of beleifs.

Kathryn said...

While everyone does have their own opinions and thoughts, most people do believe a lot of what they are told or what they see. Until this is contested, it is want they believe to be fact, even if it is just an illusion. If they have never learned from experience or heard or seen anything else, why wouldn't they believe what they're told to be fact? That is all they know and therefore have nothing to use as an argument against that illusion. That is how illusions can be accepted as reality, because to the people living in that illusion, it seems real and they know nothing else.

Kathryn said...

While everyone does have their own opinions and thoughts, most people do believe a lot of what they are told or what they see. Until this is contested, it is want they believe to be fact, even if it is just an illusion. If they have never learned from experience or heard or seen anything else, why wouldn't they believe what they're told to be fact? That is all they know and therefore have nothing to use as an argument against that illusion. That is how illusions can be accepted as reality, because to the people living in that illusion, it seems real and they know nothing else.

Ben Baroch said...

IF the illusion is all that you have ever known, how could you possibly know that it is not reality? Also, reality is really just a state of mind. How can we even know that what we call reality is truley real, and we are not just looking at 'shadows' on the wall? So, ultimaltley we all live in a reality that may not be 'real'. Bear with me as this is a bit disorganized. Back to my thoughts on each person living in their own reality: each person constructs beliefs and thoughts that make up their own personal reality. If I were to believe in what some people call 'mythical' creatures, that is my own reality. I could believe that Big Foot is real, and therefore, this fictional ape is now a part of my reality. Therfore, what one person believes to be an illusion, another can believe is reality. Concluding my thoughts, because reality is 'in the eyes of the beholder' we all technically live in an illusion since reality is not a universal concept.

Megan said...
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Kaelee said...

Put yourself in the other peoples' shoes. What if all you knew is what you saw, you were born and died looking at the illusions? You would have know idea that anything outside of the illusions exsit. So of course you would believe that to be the only truth because that is your only sensory detail of life. One example is when i was very young my mom didn't work and so i just stayed inside my house and once in awhile traveled into my backyard. With always staying around home i had no idea that large cities exsited, that there was a whole different world outside my home.

Ilya said...

If you spend your whole life brought up to believe an illusion, and never get access to any evidence that would let you see that that's all it is, it's only natural to take it to be the truth - you have no reason to doubt it, so why would you? Also, that is your personal truth, something may not be agreed to by others, but for you, it's all you know. For instance, there is the natural example of the chained men in the cave in "Allegory" - but examples are commonplace in reality as well: when white colonists first visitied indigenous people living far from "civilisation", the indigenous people didn't know anything about some of the objects the explorers had with them, while the explorers would consider them commonplace - the same thing applies to firearms - while it's accepted knowledge that a gun wound can easily lead to one's death, the indigenous people often didn't know this, and thus were afraid of the noise and smoke of the guns, rather than the actual danger.

Looking at it from a different perspective, an illusion is reality - just look at the theatre: you go to see shows, and for the length of the show you'll take it to be reality, even despite all the evidence pointing to it being the work of actors and techies... but when you don't have any evidence to the contrary, there's no reason to suspect that it's just a bunch of people acting as though they're other people. [[ rambling a bit, sorry ]]

In all - you can't know what you don't believe, and you almost exclusively can't believe something that all of your evidence (experience as well as other resources) opposes. Looking at that from the viewpoint of someone living inside an illusion, that illusion is real for them, so they've got every reason to feel so.

annelise gilsdorf said...

I believe that human nature has a tendency to shy away from the unfamiliar and uncomfortable. As a result of this, it's easy to accept something that's in your comfort zone or that you have been taught all along. Without exposure to the metaphorical "light" you don't realize it's missing. And when you finally are exposed to it, it's sometimes easier to pretend it doesn't exist than to upset the delicate balance that you've formed in the world you're comfortable in. Sometimes introducing a new element to your life seems more detrimental than living without it. To prevent their whole paradigm from upsetting, people continue in the illusions that they have been taught from the beginning or have formed as protection from reality.

Nathan Beta said...

Human beings are vulnerable to suggestion. if we believe we are sick, our bodies fail. if we think about making a mistake, such as in a sport or game, we will. if we are presented with a concept and no countering response, such as the world being the center of the universe, it will becone so in our minds. as such, if presented as the sole reality, a cave will become such. and the man will know no different.

tpau said...

I think that since most of what you percept as truth is based on experience and memory so an illusion would be real if thats all you know. It would be hard to think up another reality if you are living in an illusion. It would be like someone in our society, believing all that we believe as true, and making up another reality. It would be really easy to believe what your sences percept.

Ryan Beethe said...

According to the metaphor, the obvious way that you accept an illusion as reality is if you haven't seen anything else. The allegory implies that human beings are born unquestioning, and only after some of their beliefs are proved false do they learn to question any of the others. After all, there's no reason to question that you might be wrong if you've only ever been right.

But personally, I don't think it's that simple. I believe that people in general really like to believe that they're right. When presented with a weak argument against their own, they simply dismiss it. I belive this because when most people are proven wrong, they don't seem to like it. So when somebody has a false belief, that person is probably going to follow that illusion because he or she wants to be right.

On the other hand, I think the people who do question themselves have the "moral discipline" to search for truth instead of just believing themselves.

In practice however, I think almost everyone has at least some of this moral discipline, but only towards certain beliefs.

CJ said...

Many times people are mislead to believe an illusion as reality, an example would be all the cults which end up killing people by the hundreds because the leader told them to "drink this special juice and you'll go to heaven". The problem is that people are mislead by charismatic leaders. People can be persuaded by the power of words to believe something that is not true, though usually a skewed logic is used to persuade people completely.

Taylor Dolak said...
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Jessi said...

people tend to believe what they want to believe, and even if it is an illusion, they are more comfortable and it's easier to believe something they want to believe. Maybe it doesn't hurt as much or maybe it feels safer, people do things like this without meaning to, it can be subconcious, or sometimes they do it conciously, it just depends. believeing something that isn't true can also be soemthing you learned from someone you trust, if you trust them, you believe them and don't usually question them. so if someone you respect tells you a lie, it's easy to believe.

Jake said...

I believe that some people can accept an illusion for their reality, because their illusion doesn't shade them from the light of the real world. What their illusion does is allow them to shape the "light" to their own perspective. The light, i feel, is more of a "universal" reality versus an individual one. The darkness they look through, or their illusion is them compensating for the change the light brings when they look at it.

Abby said...

If people have beliefs that have not been proven wrong, they tend to see them as true fact. People don't tend to change their strong beliefs without evidence to deny their thoughts, so they see their beliefs as reality.

Sophia said...

People can do this because it is easier for them to accept it as reality rather than learning and making themselves vulnerable to pain. If a woman's husband is cheating on her and one of her friend's tell her about it, she could just ignore it because she doesn't want to believe in the embarassment and pain it would cause her to accept it. It's easier to stay the same than to grow and learn...not always better, but easier for sure.

Micha said...

Sometimes people believe something that is not true because they don't know any better, and have seen no proof to believe otherwise. Other times, it is because believing in something that isnt true is perhaps more comfortable than facing reality.

firefeather said...

If, for example, you have been raised with specific beliefs, values and interests in your family, that is the truth to you. It is all you know, and all you believe, until the time comes that you run into the different beliefs that are out there. For me, this happened when i first began thinking about the religious traditions that my family practiced, instead of just following along. At this time, i made a decision (one that my parents don't agree with, of course) that organized religion isn't for me. Perhaps for others, yes.

Like this, until you're confronted by an opposing viewpoint, what you know, even if illusory, is your truth. And its a personal choice to change this.

Micha said...

An example of this is religion. Though there is no proof that God really exists it is comforting to believe that a higher being is watching over you and protecting you at all times. This is why, i think, people turn to religion for help.

Durrie said...

We were talking about this in psycology today. Psychics, magicians, believers in alien attacks, etc, are examples of such. Mob mentality only helps this phenomena. Because people want to believe, it's easier to convince them with an illusion. However, placebo effects can be considered a "reality" that comes from an illusion.

taylordolak said...

its possible to believe in an illusion because generally people trust each other and believe what they grew up knowing is true, and while that might not be the case they believe in it so strongly that it seems real.

orange said...

Some people can believe an illusion because of the fact that the way their childhood "happened" made them believe things the just are not true. This can be seen in the concept of racism/slavery. Parents of white children especially in the days of slavery were taught that thier race was superior. And so this became accepted as fact untill people began to question their actions and beliefs causing the end of slavery in the U.S.

Minny said...

I think the foundation for this occurance would rely a lot on the kind of social environment. If one lived in a very racist environment, such as in AMerica in the 1900s(?) before the African American Movement, one would believe that one race was superior to another and etc. One was so exposed to the prejudices during that time, those "shadows of reality," that they believe it to be the truth; they didn't see any other way to behave--it was the "norm" of that time. However, nowadays, the racial prejudice has been dispelled for the most part, and people are open to differences in ethnicity, of skin color. People now live in an environment where many people are accepted for being who they are; therefore, we, unlike those of the past, see something more of "the truth"; it may not be the full truth, but we are closer to it.

Antonia said...

If living in a cave, surrounded by other people also chained to the wall, and watching everything you know play out in shadows is all you've ever known, then this is your reality. It is a reality that has been created for you by yourself and everyone around you. Since no one else next to you knows any different either, they also continue living in this illusion of reality.
Sometimes accepting illusion as reality comes from comfort and hanging onto what you know. When faced with the light, it is much easier to retreat back into darkness since there, things are safe and familiar.
One example I can think of is the growing crisis of global climate change. People are hesitant to change their ways ("come out of the cave") because their old habits (ones that are part of the destruction) are familiar and comfortable. It is inconvenient to be blinded and pained by the light and change their habits to be more enviornmentally friendly.

andihayes said...

When all you know is the illusion, that is what you believe. As I heard somewhere, "We believe what we know. We know what we are taught." You believe what you have been taught. For example, the Catholic church requires the youth of the parish to go through religious education classes. They want the youth to learn about, and thus strenghten, their faith in God and the church's teachings. If you are taught an illusion, then you believe an illusion. Like the example with the church, some people would say that religion and faith in general is an illusion. Specifically, with the "Allegory of the Cave," they have learned only what they have been exposed to, which is the cave. If it is a self taught illusion, you will believe it for reality when you find examples in the world that support your believe - and with that, you will only look for things that support your beileve and ignore those that contract it, without ever being consious of the fact that that is what you are doing.

Mia said...

Many people would prefer to believe things that are not necessarily true. It is easier for them to believe what they want and not what is reality. Sometimes this is an escape mechanism, but at times the reality is more important than protecting ourselves. It is through reality that we are able to grow individually and as a culture.

There are some people that believe that the Holocaust never happened. I believe that people do this as a way to protect themselves from the cruelty of the world, but in doing so they are also remaining ignorant. We learn from the past and mistakes from the past, at least I hope we do. Ok let’s say we try to learn from the mistakes of our past and the Holocaust was a major “mistake” in history. I doubt that given the morals in our society and knowing what happened during WWII, we would let another major mistake like this happen.

Joel D. said...

No one truly believes in illusions, though they may accept as reality what is really an illusion. By definition, for a person to believe that their reality is an illusion, they must doubt it.
To restate, I believe that everyone must believe in reality, though it may be a false reality and, therefore, an illusion. If one can identify an illusion, it includes an inherent disbelief of that illusion as reality.

I. Kennedy said...

Because reality is often painful and unpleasant.

Illusions are a way to escape the pain of reality.

It is human instinct to avoid pain, physically or psychologically.

This is even documented medically in people who were abused as children. They often subconsiously black out the painful memories, which results in periods of amnesia. The can also develop multiple personality disorder because the compartmentalization allows them to better cope with the pain in their childhood. These are extreme cases, but the concept is the same for all illusions as a substitution for reality. Generally, the greater pain that is staved off by the illusion, the more staunchly the illusion is defended.

Erin said...

It can be easy to believe in illusion if it comes from a seemingly reliable source. Take vision for example. We rely on our eyesight daily for an accurate representation of reality and, most of the time, this representation holds true. We have experiential knowledge that our eyes are a reliable source of visual knowledge. When we see an image that gets lighter in the background and that follows the rules of perspective (ex:all lines lead to the vanishing points), it is usually safe to assume that the we are looking at a dimensional scene. However, our eyes can be decieved. Optical illusions exist. Realistic painting is one such illusion. But, of necessity, we cannot doubt everything our eyes tells us. If we did, we would forever walk with arms outstreached for fear that we would run into the 2D optical illusion before us. And most of the time this is not a problem. Things like detail and concistency reassure us of the reliability of vision on a daily basis. And yet, the illusions exist, and can be all the harder to disbelieve because of the level of our level of depencancy on the source and the frequency of its reliability.

Arora said...

I agree with most people who have posted- if something is all you have known, then you will probably accept it as truth, because you can't tell any different. And even if it isn't true to some people, it can be called a personal truth, and you can stop caring whether people believe it too.
But beyond that, sometimes people believe in an illusion even when they know the truth. This especially happens because they don't want to know the truth or understand it, like when little kids believe that pet goldfish will swim out to the ocean through the sewage. They just don't want to think about what it would mean that the fish isn't going to swim any more. Adults do that too sometimes- sometimes it's like a security blanket, harmless, but it makes them feel better. Sometimes it isn't so harmless.

Lynda L. said...

I think illusion is related to what a person wants something to be and not what it actually is. Like, I always see and hear the occasional news of murders, kidnappings, earthquakes, etc. which makes me feel like I have to be cautious, but not too cautious since I have this illusion that these things are way unlikely to happen to me. But the reality is that these things can happen to anyone. One time, there was a woman who really wanted a baby, but couldn't have one. So she stole one from inside a pregnant woman's belly. Seriously, who would ever have thought that a pregnant woman, out of all people, would be attacked.

sarah derosier said...

Of course people can go though life accepting illusion as reality! It's only when one "sees the light" that it becomes obvious the difference between shadows on the wall and the light of the sun. Generations of people went through their whole lives believing that the earth is flat. If you can't compare the truth to the illusion, how can you know its an illusion? It's only when some kind of justification for the truth is presented that anyone can discard a previously accepted belief. And even when faced with the truth some people choose to believe the illusion.

firefeather said...

Off what Kennedy said: have any of you read When Rabbit Howls by the Troops for Trudy Chase? It explains MP in depth, from a first hand perspective. I highly recommend it, as it is something none of us has ever consciously experienced.

Selina Lujan said...

I strongly believe in first reality and second reality. Where, in first reality, your family protects you from the “dangers” of the outside world. What is taught and told to you in your family can blind a person from what is really going on in the world. The religion and culture that is taught to me, is what I know to be the only “real” religion and the “right” culture. Then when introduced to the realities and truth of the real world, it’s hard to accept it, as it is. What I know to be true and right, is what I believe in, but when it comes to different religions, theories and values that are not known to me I don’t agree with them. Although I may not agree with others beliefs, values, or standards, it’s the real world and what they believe in and what I believe in is reality. Ultimately, all beliefs should be accepted, because that’s what makes up the world.

Meredith Wheeler said...

I think it's innate in human nature that we accept the illusions of our own creation as reality. In psychology we're discussion belief perseverance, which is the phenomenon of how we continue to believe in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Perhaps it's the sensationalist inherent in us that is drawn to the irrational, but we search (actively or passively) for information that supports what we already believe. Maybe that's because we're simply afraid of what will happen if we confront our beliefs-and are wrong. It takes moral self-discipline to confront one's ego, because inevitably, beliefs are a reflection of one's ego. However, the illusion can also be comforting, and I believe that there are circumstances in which people need to cling to illusion, and it's not necessarily appropriate for society to judge.

A-Dog said...

Reality to me, is what a person has been taught and believes to be true. Thus, even if what a person has been raised knowing turns out to be an illustion, only each one for themself can be the judge of that. So, if I am raised with the belief that (say for instance) technology will eventually be the cause of the end of the world, then there is no one to prove me wrong. There are only those who can tell me that my belief is an illusion. And even if they are right, there is no justified reason for why I should believe them instead of what I've been taught.

Laura Jo Washle said...

Like many people have said before me, many people grow up believing in what they were taught. If we are only exposed to a limited amount of information, the knowledge that we attain from that information is the ceiling on what we may believe. Until we are exposed to new information, we are stuck accepting the illusions that we have been taught (true or false) as reality because like the person chained inside the cave their whole life, we are bound by the chains of ignorance and naiveté.

Tae said...

In some manner, this question presupposes that we know what reality is. It could all be some illusion or mirage generated by our subconscious. But nonetheless, a combination of factors combine to form the amalgam of illusion and potential reality that we consider to be definitive reality, such as sense perception, upbringing and education. I hesitate to indicate examples, because how do we know these are not reality? Perhaps science and logic tell us otherwise, but how do we know that the earth is not flat and our senses deceive us (and moreover, how do we know that the earth exists?) How do we know that there are no ghosts? Perhaps I am taking this too far, but it seems arrogant to assume that we know the Truth and our forebears were the ignorant ones. When asked to question Truth and reality, it is difficult not to question our own views of Truth, for they may be the incorrect ones. I don't mind not knowing the Truth. Of course, a dichotomy exists between truth and Truth. Lowercase-t truth is what is true for me, and probably differs from person to person (for example, I believe that it is true that the earth itself is not an illusion- although I am open to the opposite possibility). You might say that this strays far too close to belief. It does, and that is the point. Capital-T Truth -what is actually the universal truth- is a much more ambiguous concept, especially since we do not know if multiple, coexisting truths exist. In addition, the existence of Truth relies on a linear concept of time. But can we ever find Truth? Accepting some nebulousness in this area seems crucial to being human.

the bee gee said...

It is possible because people often choose to suspend reality and accept illusion in order to fuse that illusion to a part of their lives. Reasons for this fusion often stem from denial, resentment, or simply an unwillingness to understand what truth actually exists. Other times it occurs because a person feels that this altered reality will make their own an easier one. For example, a person who has never learned how to read or write could easily make the claim that literacy is not necessary in order to function in society. I, who can read and write, could make the reverse claim - that literacy is necessary to function in society - because it is the reality which I have been raised to believe.

Karam said...

When considering humanity as a whole, one can't firmly justify what is reality and what is an illusion or fallacy. People usually choose to accept an illusion if it makes their life easier or if it is easier on their conscience to handle. Am example that is to the most extreme point is that of "feral" children. A feral child is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language. This is a good example because feral children like "Genie" (look it up) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genie_(feral_child))

was isolated from society and therefore formed a skewed version of the world because she was locked in a basement for 13 years. Its not that people "believe in illusions" its more along the lines of it IS their reality.

leahreynolds said...

I think it depends on what you consider an illusion or a reality. If a person grows up believing in religion and God(s), that person may look at those who do not and believe they are following a false life. But from the other side of the spectrum, people who do not beleive in God/religion may say that those who do are revering something that is not real and an illusion. I also believe, like many other people on this page, that if you are raised and live your life viewing things in a certain way, for some it might be comfortable to just continue that line of truth that creates the basis of their lives instead of changing and facing "reality."

Nathan B. said...

The most obvious reason for people to believe something is that it is easier to accept that belief and that it is what makes the most sense to them given the information they have. An example of this is the folks of Ye Olden days who believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the sun rotated around it. This was easy for them to accept because it put the earth and themselves at a seat of power, in the center of it all. The most logical reason for why they believed it was, well, logic. They did not have the scientific means to find out the truth and so they went by experience and logic: they saw the sun rise on this side of the earth and go down on the other, therefore, it must go all the way around the earth, orbiting it.

Nathan B. said...

The most obvious reason for people to believe something is that it is easier to accept that belief and that it is what makes the most sense to them given the information they have. An example of this is the folks of Ye Olden days who believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and that the sun rotated around it. This was easy for them to accept because it put the earth and themselves at a seat of power, in the center of it all. The most logical reason for why they believed it was, well, logic. They did not have the scientific means to find out the truth and so they went by experience and logic: they saw the sun rise on this side of the earth and go down on the other, therefore, it must go all the way around the earth, orbiting it.

Vincent Levinger said...

It is possible for someone to believe an illusion is really simply because thats the way it looks. For example, the Earth being flat. When looking at the horizon, It looks like it drops off, so obviously it's flat.

Nick Jordan said...

Some people believe in illusions because of authority and consensus. For instance, southerners and Confederates believed that slavery was moral. They thought this because that's what they had been raised to believe, and that's what everyone around them believed. Then when they are introduced to the truth its hard and painful for them to accept that their way of life is wrong and immoral, just as it is hard to see the full light of the sun as opposed to the glare from a fire.

jeff_tweedy said...

I agree with Nick Jordan - I had a hard time sort of with that a while ago because it occured to me that if I was born into a white family the South in the 1800s, I might have owned slaves or at least been racist or something... I'd like to think that I wouldn't be, but I could see how being brought up with those beliefs could influence me; I just hope that I consider alternative beliefs and question my beliefs that could be unjust enough that I would see through the illusion.

christine said...

When someone really wants to believe in something like an illusion, they make everything in their lives bent on being real in order for that illusion to come true. People are satisfied when they know more than most people, and so it would be similar to the "Allegory of the Cave", where the people that're chained up are satisfied in knowing everything there is to know in their world. People create illusions for themselves to gain satisfaction with themselves, their lives, or the people around them.

For example, a stereotypical celebrity would automatically create illusions for him/herself when deciding to make the world of movie-making or modeling their reality. They wouldn't know the reality beyond what they would be doing because they wouldn't want to get involved with things like war and genocide. They are happy as long as they are at the top of their own world and this way of living works for them best. Even normal people pretend to set up their lives the way they want it to be.

Michael W. said...

Well, looking at Allegory of the Cave, it is very possible for people to believe an illusion is reality. As long as they had no evidence disproving their belief, their belief that the illusion was reality was not incorrect for this illusion is all that they know. If one was born into a time period where the earth was believed by all to be flat, and the earth looked and felt flat to them, it is very possible that the person would believe the earth was flat. There would be no pictures or other evidence disproving their belief, and they'd be justified by their experiences and consensus. They would thus accept it as reality.

Liz I. said...

in relation to allegory of the cave, if someone is essentially brain-washed, like those prisoners chained facing the wall, their entire lives, they don't know illusion from reality, so they accept what they are shown (like the shadows cast upon the wall). they have no way of knowing anything different because they have been in a cave all their lives. one example in the present day might be a menanite one (though it's not super common to find this). in wyoming and montana and various other states, there are remote menanite-like communities of people that live without electricity, running water, and technology in general. this is no longer reality, but children grow up in that environment know nothing different. they aren't allowed out (if they even know they are being confined). this almost primitive community is not reality, but they accept it because it is all they know, even though it is an illusion of types.

Michelle Madsen said...

People can believe something even if it is an illusion their belief has been taught to them their whole lives, if there is a dominant authority present telling them something then they will form a trust that it is true. An example of this could be the whole generations that believed the earth was flat, there was a general consensus that the earth was flat and higher authorities such as scientists would reinforce that belief.

Ian B said...

I'm already putting this into a lead post, but this is what I have to offer.

In a nutshell, my theory is that we have no way of knowing anything outside of believing it. Because of this, human perception is the only thing that can inspire us to act. The sum of our actions become the past, and the past leads directly into the future. Hence, the real truth is the limiting factor, but it is the truth as interpreted that changes the course of events.

In full:
Einstein theorised that everything is relative and that there are no absolutes.

Existence is like a blanket of infinite dimensions. Everything is linked to everything else through the threads. The blanket encompasses all space, time, matter, energy - it is everything, and is always expanding. Conversely, because it is not possible for something not to exist, the blanket is infinite. It is not one-, two-, three-, four-dimensional. It includes and composes everything, existing in an infinite number of dimensions.

If one part of the blanket changes, an infinite number of new threads spring from the point. The resulting web of threads originating from the centre [theoretically the beginning of space, time &cetera] forms the blanket, which continually alters the future as the blanket continues to expand.

If, however, everything is indeed relative, it is likely that the blanket has expanded before, and then collapsed upon itself in a never-beginning, never-ending cycle.

Though the blanket encompasses everything, it only governs the future.

The present [which is infinitely small because it is simply the point at which the past and the future meet] and the past exist only in perception and memory. We can perceive that there is a present, but it is impossible to define a time as the present because we can only measure it relative to the past and future. In fact, the present is perception.

The past, on the other hand, can be altered because it does exist in the blanket but is stored in memory that is constantly being filtered through perception, which is extremely dynamic and is not limited by the physical world that along with the blanket governs the future.

George Orwell described this idea well in 1984 with the idea of doublethink and his assertion that 'whoever controls the past controls the future'.

It is possible to delete from or to add to the past by adding or removing events or series of events from the blanket. When an event or series of events is removed, the causes of that event or series run straight through to the effects and the event no longer exists. It never existed. When an event is added, it attaches to effects and causes, forming a new portion of the blanket.

This manipulation of the past can be achieved through either conscious or unconscious change in perception.

When the past changes, conscious choices will change, and in turn the future will change.

The future is governed jointly by the physical world and by the collective of individual perceptions of the past and present, making it impossible to predict.

Since the past exists only though perception thereof, because the future does not yet exist, and because the physical world only governs the future, perception is all that is real and therefore every being has a different reality.

For this reason, life has no meaning without a perceived meaning. But once a meaning has been perceived, that meaning holds true within one's own reality. Life is what you make of it.

Why does it all matter? Only you can answer.

Simone said...

Who the heck knows why it matters?
But one thing this reminds me of is the movie The Truman Show, where this guy is born into a giant movie set and there are cameras everywhere and everyone who is around him is an actor. he finally gets out, but that's where the movie ends.
People believe what they see, hear, and are told. Many times they don't question it. In fact, I doubt very many people ask questions of themselves or what they believe or how they perceive the world. They just accept it.

Kelsey B said...

Personally I can't really understand why anyone would believe in illusion and accept it as reality unless of course they didn't know what they believed in was illusion, in which case they wouldn't know any better. I think that I would rather know the truth no matter what it is because anything else seems like a bit of a waste of time. However I think that part of the reason why people choose to sometimes believe in ilusion has a lot to do with the pragmatic truth test that we talked about in class. In many cases it is more convienient to believe in an illusion. Like with the allegory of the people in the cave, it would be easier for them to stay in the dark and not try to deal with all the complexities of the real world in which they have never lived. It can be a painful prcess sometimes to reject what you have previously believed and it is not easy at all. It is easier to simply stick to what you have always known,even if that turns out to be untrue. Also if you are in a society of people who all believe in an illusion, it is easier to go along with everyone else rather than forge your own path.

Kara said...

I think that it is very easy to believe in the illusion and not in reality. Why are there so many psychics in a world of science if people only believe in reality when both it and illusion is presented. To believe in an illusion is a comfort blanket, for in a illusion there are concretes. You can become the master of the illusion and it will never do something you aren't expecting. But with reality, you recieve no such comfort. What is right one day is wrong the next. Take civil rights for example. For so long whites believed that it was true that blacks were inferior, that was their reality. But that is nothing more than an illusion, a comfort to whites to justify their actions towards the blacks. Could you imagine what it would be like to realise that the belief that you are superior is wrong, and in reality you have been committing a horrible crime towards an entire people? With that threat to your conscience wouldn't you cling to the illusion that what your doing if fine rather than to face what you have done?

meredith said...

We have no possible way of knowing that illusion IS illusion until we have experienced reality in some shape or form. Once we have become aware of reality, there is no going back to believing that illusion is reality. The Matrix is a fictional example, yet it clearly supports this idea of enlightenment: Once someone comes out of the Matrix for the first time, and actually experiences reality for themselves (and are not simply told to believe that there is a world outside theirs) they cannot go back into the Matrix and be the same person as they were before. They are changed by their knowledge of reality and no matter how hard they might try to pretend that the Matrix is actually reality, they know all along that it is all an illusion.

tucker said...

I also think it is very easy to believe in an illusion and accept it to be true. i think it probably happens every day in every life. but i don't really think it matters. if the illusion is what we know to be true, and it works for us, and we are happy with it and haven't found any flaws in it, then why stress yourself trying to figure out what is true and what is an illusion. i guess that kinda sounds bad...and now that i've said it so blandly, i think i should add that i don't think everyone should think like i do, or we'd still believe the world is flat. i guess what i'm trying to say, is that personally i don't feel the need to chase after what is true and what is an illusion as long as i have accepted it to be true, but i believe that those who feel the need to should do it. i'm all for them :~)

Callie said...

I think that it is possible for some people to accept and illusion as reality because humans generally are uncomfortable with change. People would be apprehensive to accept the truth when all they have known is their illusion. There are numerous examples in movements of social change, because humans tend to dislike things that take their minds out of their comfort zones. Before women's rights movements, some people were under the illusion that women were inferior because of different roles mentioned in the Bible, their different physical traits, etc. and they accepted this as reality because it was not comfortable to change something that they had known their whole lives.

hockeysuto22 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hockeysuto22 said...

I believe that this answer thoroughly depends on how you were raised as a child. A huge movie example I can think of is Blast From the Past. In this movie, this family stocks an underground house with ten to twenty years of supplies in case of a bomb attack. Well at the beginning there is a bomb raid and they take their one child with them down to the house. Throughout the years they taught him and they lived under the ground. Well twenty years later (or so) they are beginning to run out of food. The son, who is now grown up, is the one to go to the surface and get the food. When he goes up through an elevator contraption, he is confronted with a world he has no idea how to live in. This is a great example of stepping into the light because this man has no idea how to live in the modern world and retreats at first, but then confronts a world he is an alien to.

Bismah A. said...

People can believe an illusion to be true because if they don't know that it is an illusion, then it can be nothing other than the truth. In the allegory, the people in the cave don't know anything other than the shadows on the wall, and so they base everything off of what they know of the shadows, making it true for themselves. This can also be seen in some isolated communities or very rigid and strict religions. For example, in the book "My Name is Asher Lev", Asher comes from a conservative hasidic jewish community, and when exposed to other western culture (such as nude art) both he and his community are offended and confused by it because it is completely foreign and new, and does not fit their definition of art or what is socially acceptable. the truth is relative, and is impacted by an individual's environment and experiences.

Tess Santangelo said...

to add to what i said earlier people fight wars in order to preserve thier beliefs, if they actually real or illusions. basicaly every fight is started because people will not agree with eachother. but where would we be if people just gave up on their beliefs?

Paigeypoo said...

I believe people don't except what some people consider reality as their own reality because they are more comfortable in what they believe is true like in "Allegory of the cave." People like to have a comfort zone so believing in their own reality is easier then accepting other realities.

Megan said...

Like what many people have said, I think that it is very easy to live with an illusion and almost impossible to live without some illusions. How are we to know what is and isn't real? In "The Allegory of the Cave", the prisoners had never seen anything but the wall of the cave. This was their reality. They had no idea that they were only looking at shadows. It is very easy to accept something as "reality" because I think that naturally humans want that type of stability in their lives. Without a constant, we are utterly lost.

Lauren P said...

It is extremely simple to believe in something that is an illusion. If this illusion is the only thing that is presented to you your entire life, by nature a person will accept that idea or belief as a truth. After all, if they have never known any other way of thinking, they would have no clue that this original idea was wrong. Since this illusion, or way of life, makes sense to the "victims," they would not even think to see the world in a different light, unless some external thing forced this new idea upon them.
"Ignorance is bliss," as the saying goes, and many people live in this manor.
It's still true, for instance, that some people deny the existence of the holocaust. It's simply more convenient for them to believe that it never existed, and so they don't. (Oh, that's a truth test, isn’t it?)

Amelia A. said...

For some people, they just don't want to see the truth. They will do anything to retain their belief because it is safe, familiar, and comfortable. Many people don't want change, they are happy with the way things are and are terrified of the unknown, even if it will ultimately benefit them. Thus they continue with their illusions, living life as they always had, becoming people of the past instead of stepping into the future.
An example of this would be people who ignore evolution as a solid theory. Many religious people (but definitely not all) disregard any evidence for human evolution as being fabricated or inconclusive, when in fact it is becoming more and more accepted by the scientific community. They are very stuck in their religious ways and don't want to consider the idea that there might be a more "true" idea out there.

Kathryn said...

While everyone does have their own opinions and thoughts, most people do believe a lot of what they are told or what they see. Until this is contested, it is want they believe to be fact, even if it is just an illusion. If they have never learned from experience or heard or seen anything else, why wouldn't they believe what they're told to be fact? That is all they know and therefore have nothing to use as an argument against that illusion. That is how illusions can be accepted as reality, because to the people living in that illusion, it seems real and they know nothing else. In 5th grade we read a book called "Running out of Time," about a girl who lived in a village in the 1840's. The village obviously has no electricty, running water, etc...but it turns out that it's actually a tourist attraction for others to watch and get an idea of those times. The year is really 1996. The main character is a 13 year old girl, and because she was born in this village, she knows nothing else. So even though it's all an allusion, she believes that her world is reality. When she has to leave this village and venture into the real world, it is near impossible for her accept that her world was all a lie and to come to terms with actual society. It's a pretty great book, and fits perfectly to this topic.

tpau said...

I think that since most of what you percept as truth is based on experience and memory so an illusion would be real if thats all you know. It would be hard to think up another reality if you are living in an illusion. It would be like someone in our society, believing all that we believe as true, and making up another reality. It would be really easy to believe what your sences percept.For example when everyone believed that the world was flat it was hard for them to grasp because it made sence. To them it looked as if the sun moved around them and if the world was round wouldn't it make sence that we would all fall off. This was an illusion of sorts and was very easy to believe. Another example would be when people are brought up to believe in certain things. Like how a government that suppresses their people will keep them in the dark and make them believe that its the way of things and that it is pointless to think other wise. They live with the illusion that they are powerless to change their position.

annelise gilsdorf said...

One example of a person believing in an illusion is the story of Copernicus and his discovery of what we now consider our model of the solar system. For many years it was the accepted belief that the sun revolved around the earth, it was logical, it was pragmatic and the majority of people believed it. However, Copernicus questioned the belief and determined through scientific calcualtions and data that the sun did not indeed revolve around the earth. He was excommunicated for his assertion if I recall correcly because the claims he made were so offensive to people. It was demeaning for people to think that the world didn't revolve around human life and so they chose not to accept the idea at first.

JWolff said...

If you have lived a specific way, in a specific house, your friends (if any) have lived the same way as you, that's all you would know. It's not that you don't get out or anything, thats just all you have done so it's all you know. Also, if you do actually get out in the world, you still only "know" the things from experience so anything that could possibly contradict it, they would just plain deny it in the first place. I can't really think of any examples that haven't already been used.

Ryan Beethe said...

According to the metaphor, the obvious way that you accept an illusion as reality is if you haven't seen anything else. The allegory implies that human beings are born unquestioning, and only after some of their beliefs are proved false do they learn to question any of the others. After all, there's no reason to question that you might be wrong if you've only ever been right.

But personally, I don't think it's that simple. I believe that people in general really like to believe that they're right. When presented with a weak argument against their own, they simply dismiss it. I belive this because when most people are proven wrong, they don't seem to like it. So when somebody has a false belief, that person is probably going to follow that illusion because he or she wants to be right.

On the other hand, I think the people who do question themselves have the "moral discipline" to search for truth instead of just believing themselves.

In practice however, I think almost everyone has at least some of this moral discipline, but only towards certain beliefs.

I think the best example of this in my life is my dad. He believes his memory is completely infallible. The real problem with that is that I've gotten in trouble with him for not doing something he told me to do, even if he never actually told me to do it.

Unfortunately, another example of this is myself. I dislike to be proven wrong, which is something I constantly have to struggle against.

Lindsey Goris said...

One example is from the reading we did about biases. We are biased towards the familar and towards what we have been told for a long time. For example people grow up learning a religion or a political ideal from their parents, and never question it because that was just what they had always beleived.

Dylan Sublette said...

People for the most part believe what we see so if all we see are illusions than that is what we believe. Also if you know nothing else then what you do know is your reality, even if it is not the 'true' reality. Like in the "Allegory of the Cave" where the people are walking behind them with items, the shadows they see on the walls are their reality. They accept this reality because they have no knowledge of any thing else and who knows even if they did they could prefer being ignorant, finding it easyer than than confronting the truth. This is like in natzi Germany a lot of the people believed the propaganda of Hitler and went a long with it. Its also like when you tell someone that there is something really ugly or something smells really bad they have to check it out for themselves.