Paper Example on Plato's Ethical Assessment

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1641 Words
Date:  2022-09-07


Plato is one of the prominent philosophers in the world. He was Socrates' student, later on, taught Aristotle. His reasoning was beyond the scope of people who lived during his time. According to Plato, a just person engages correctly in functions since the human soul guides justice. Men are guided by specific virtues in life to perform efficiently; in fact, Plato argues that if men were to lack specific virtues in their experience, they would engage in harmful practices. Individuals are not guided by the laws but by their souls to engage in just practices. In explaining justice in The Republic, Plato employs the strategy whereby he explicates the notion that justice is mainly based on societal, political systems; he, therefore, emphasizes on the individual justice concept by stressing that people are driven by personal interests and souls to engage in just practices (Frye).

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The Allegory of the Cave

The subsequent stage is belief. Plato suggests that witnessing something does not have grounds for believing but strong conviction may be present after witnessing something. We however in these instances have no surety. He further argues that just seeing something does not guarantee that we know everything about the subject. 'The allegory of the cave' by Plato touches on numerous varying philosophical aspects including, epistemology, metaphysics, asceticism, ethics, etc. To understand this Plato's allegory, it is necessary to examine his rhetoric, tone, position as well as his arguments (Duarte, 2012). Education, individuality, human nature, and interaction are among the philosophies of Plato in explaining his ideal process towards knowledge expressed through the use of imagery like metaphors, symbolism, and themes.

The allegory by Plato envisions a large number of prisoners who have lacked exposure from inside the caves of ignorance from their early days and are completely unaware of the theory of forms. They are suppressed, and they are not in any way free. They are envisioned to have an exclusive vision of their caves, fire burning on their rear. Shadows are cast behind their backs, which they perceive to be real, asking "Is it okay for prisoners to... in every aspect be of the belief that the reality is nothing else apart from the shadows seen on these artifacts." The thesis in question is the basic tenets which state that all our perceptions are imprecise reflections which project reality and truth. It is a vital integral part of the story that since it points out our faultiness in perception since birth founded on faulty understandings of goodness and reality (Duarte,2012). The significance of this allegory exists on assumptions of the existence of truth that cannot be made out lying beneath the apparent surface that can only be gotten by enlightenment being drawn out of the darkness and brought to the side of light.

Plato in his theory "The allegory of the cave" uses a somehow simple explanation to come up with the conclusion that the broad run of human beings can carry out general activities such as speaking and thinking among many more. Plato in his explanation likens human beings to a group of prisoners who live in a cave but unfortunately, they cannot move as they are chained, the prisoners are only able to view shadows of puppets to which they (in their terms) have made up names for them (DE CONCEPTOS, 2001). The prisoners do not realize their mistake, which is the naming of these shadows on behalf of the real objects until they are freed.

The allegory of the cave by Plato depicts the ignorance that has clouded the society. Though they probably occupy the same position, they are resigned to the position they are in terming it as naturally instituted for them in the society. The things change, however, when these people begin to be drawn towards light where their perspective on the truth changes and they see it be a lengthy process involving intellect with a lot of challenges. It results in cognizance of reality, truth, and goodness. Plato is of the opinion that people with much insight are best suited in matters of societal governance. This is because this caliber of people understands the ultimately good deeds which the prisoners are ignorant of since they have never experienced any kind of intellectual development (Grube, 2011). Plato also believed that the best leaders, rulers, and the philosophical kings were successful not only because of their wisdom, intellect, and experience but also due to the fact they did not intend to reign. Plato emphatically observes that these philosophical kings had their anonymity interests overlapped by the roles they had to play in governing the people.

A complete society comprises of 3 major classes of individuals. To begin with, we have the producers. The producers are the farmers in the community, craftsmen, and artisans among others. The second class of individuals is the auxiliary class which is characterized by warriors, and lastly, we have the guardian class; these are the rulers of society. According to Plato, there can only be justice in society if all the categories of individuals function in the right way. Each class in a society is usually entitled to its respective functions. A just society is achieved if all the social classes work accordingly.

In The Republic, Plato shows that it is worthwhile to be just than to be unjust. He argues that when an individual performs a just action, he or she feels good. According to Plato, people are always just in any circumstance provided it is in their best interests. Further, he proceeds to argue that justice is the condition of people's soul whereby every part of an individual's soul is entitled to its particular function (Grube, 2011). An individual who engages in just practices gains psychological harmony, unlike unjust people.

Plato Social Stand

The properly structured society according to Plato should properly run its functions, and it should have the right motive. He suggests that knowledgeable individuals in truth and virtues and who are philosophers should take up leadership duties in the society. Another example that can be derived from the allegory is that there are individuals with ill motives who position themselves in front of the fire. Their shadows are subsequently cast and then incorrectly interpreted by the prisoners as reality.

Both are cognizant of a slightly advanced truth level and can crawl into people's mentality but are still ignorant of the form of goodness and forms. Philosophers are more suited to leadership duties than the people who can manipulate the psychology of the masses. The grounds for this are that philosophers are well versed with the forms of virtues and the good with a high probability of them applying them in the course of their tenures. The human perception in the allegory of the cave can be modified regarding what is exposed or concealed (Morrell, 2004). Plato suggests that the knowledge obtained through the use of senses is just but opinions and that the real knowledge can only be philosophically gained through thinking. Plato points out the differences between people mistaking knowledge by senses with the truth and subjects them to comparison against people who see in his allegory of the cave.

The allegory by Plato moves around the concepts of truth and its reflection as some intense criticism in how we live our lives daily. Many are times we appear limited to superficialities and chasing shadows rather than focusing on the real issues. Self-satisfaction has brought, greed, corruption, and ignorance among the masses with the leadership cadre also not spared. There is rampant ignorance by the people of themselves and even the universe they are living in (Sheffield, 2009). Passing intense moments have caused unrest among the people, ignorance has persisted, and the belief in illusions and the shadows have become perturbing. The contemporary times are devoid of meaning, truth values and morality clouded with corruption by political cadre and dishonesty to one's self. That is the tragedy of the modern times we live in. The allegory by Plato however, sheds some light of hope in advancing knowledge of truth and values. Despite the likelihood of us being looked down upon, we have been enlightened, and hope is within sight.

Plato’s Epistemological and Metaphysical Principles

Plato shows that it is worthwhile to be just than to be unjust. He argues that when an individual performs a just action, he or she feels good. According to Plato, people are always just in any circumstance provided it is in their best interests. Further, he proceeds to argue that justice is the condition of people's soul whereby every part of an individual's soul is entitled to its particular function. An individual who engages in just practices gains psychological harmony, unlike unjust people. He also argues that justice brings happiness to individuals.

According to Plato, human beings live in a society of intelligible and visible effects. The visible society is what mainly surrounds human beings: what human beings see, hear and experience; this visible society is a world of continuous changes and uncertainties. The intelligible society is made up of the static activities of human reasoning. In this world, assumptions are usually made from proportions; only true inferences, as well as valid reasoning, usually exist in this world. Plato's epistemological and metaphysical principles are difficult to entirely separate. He expounds the metaphysical concepts of being, perceptive and knowledgeable by affirming that they belong to the intelligible society rather than the visible.


Frye, Marilyn. The politics of reality: Essays in feminist theory. Crossing Press feminist series, 1983

Duarte, Eduardo. "Plato's "Allegory of the Cave." Being and Learning. SensePublishers,

Rotterdam, 2012.69-106.DE CONCEPTOS, I. R. (2001). Plato's Allegory of the Cave.Grube, G. M. A. "Plato's Republic, translation revised by CDC Reeve." (2011).

Morrell, K. (2004). Socratic dialogue as a tool for teaching business ethics. Journal of business ethics, 53(4), 383-392.

Sheffield, F. (2009). Plato's Symposium: the ethics of desire. Oxford Classical Monographs..

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