Allegory Of The Cave Allegory of the Cave In Books II and III of The Republic, Socrates sets the stage for a view of education for the warriors in the culture, asserting a need for the study of different disciplines, including art and athletics. Though this provides a sense of Plato’s perspective on education, his outlining of educational premises in Book VII, including his view of rational though, education, and the responsibilities of both the student and the teacher in his Allegory of the Cave defines a call for a curriculum in education based on the directives and significance of the student, and can be asserted as the foundations of modern liberal arts educational philosophies. In order to understand the different views on education provided by Plato, it is first necessary to consider the messages provided in Book II, Book III and Book VII. Plato initiates his discourse on education through the dialogue of Glaucon, Adeimantus and Socrates and their perspective on the appropriate education of the guardians of any polis. The warriors, soldiers or guardians of a city are a separate class of people, and distinguished by their knowledge and deduction to the central elements of society.
Because of their distinctions and their need to understand wisdom and make appropriate and educated choices, the education of the guardians is a necessary component in defining self-protection. It is Socrates’ (and therefore Plato’s) assertion that there is a need to educate the guardians in musical and physical areas, and to promote a correlation between participation as a warrior and educational prowess. In other words, it was Socrates’ contention that it was not enough to simply educate a guardian in warfare, but instead, their role necessitates an understanding of other premises, including history, song, art, philosophy and even literature. It is also Plato’s assertion in the last segment of Book II that one of the failings of society is the fact that myths of valor and feats of strength clearly impact the conduct of guardians, and that there is a need to demonstrate that the warriors are not simply blood-thirsty war-mongers, but instead have the capacity for rational thought and for the development of a wide variety of personal characteristics. Book II of Plato’s Republic begins with the assumption of the necessity for the education of the guardians but takes this argument further by demonstrating the benefits of physical and musical training.
It is Plato’s assertion that these are necessary in order to determine that the warriors, the guardians of the city are actually true and virtuous. As a component of the arguments for education in the guardian class, Plato also suggests that the man cannot be assumed to be truly wise or to have the capacity for effective decision making if he cannot comprehend basic aesthetic virtues like beauty as well as more complex issues like morality. The guardians of any ideal city, then would demonstrate their capacity for instilling virtue in others and directing the course of their own actions to maintain this premise. In conjunction, Plato asserts the need for a moral education of the guardians in order to determine the capacity of guardians to instill morality in others. In Book VI, Plato sets the premise for his argument for education in his determinations regarding the soul, the search for truth and the pursuit of intelligence.
The most substantive view of the correlation between Plato’s premises and modern educational philosophies can be seen in Book VII, when Socrates presents the Allegory of the Cave. This story, provides and outlines the role of both the teacher and the student. Socrates’ message begins in the idea that individuals can develop within surroundings that are so limited that they have know way of experiencing truth outside of what they can directly perceive, and this is the essential underpinning of ignorance. But if an individual can learn to understand the possibilities outside of the realm of singular understanding, and by exposure to different things, determine new understanding, then Plato would assert that all men have the potential to move from ignorance to knowledge. The basis for the Allegory of the Cave is this: a prisoner is held in a cave for his whole life (since birth), only able to see and experience that which is placed before him. For example, the fire that is used to luminate the cave becomes the center of the world much like our own sun is such a compelling central component, and the prisoner experiences everything that he sees and understands relative to the fire.
In conjunction, the fire become a means of visualizing other elements, including exposure to a puppet and the shadows on the wall, and all of these factors make up the specifics of what is known in the world of the prisoner. The divided line is an imperative concept within the scope of this premise. In essence, the teacher is the individual who directs the pursuit of knowledge past the initial limitations that have been set. It is not the teachers responsibility to simply say here is the sun, here is the moon..now you know everything because the student would never understand the process necessary to continue with the directive of self education. As a result, the process of wisdom requires that individuals adapt and learn their own skills for learning. Knowledge, then, is not simply sensory based (because the prisoners in the cave, for example, believed they had the knowledge of the fire, the shadows and the cave itself as if these were the only elements in the world that needed to be known), but also extends past our senses into the realm of logical reasoning, constructive reasoning, and a process orientation to learning and developing wisdom. Rather than simply producing information and addressing the learning process and the students in order to bring them into complicity, it is Plato’s contention that the learning process, the same process that occurs when the prisoner in the cave is allowed to leave and experiences the sun, the moon, trees, and all of life’s sciences and concepts, should be student directed.
The teacher is simply a means by which the student can come into connection with the ways of attaining knowledge, but the process of learning itself must be singular and directed by a personal learning focus. The teacher provides the individual with the means to perceive themselves, to evaluate their nature, and to consider the search for truth as a major aspect of the educational process. It can be asserted that this kind of student focus is the primary component of the modern liberal arts system, and underscores the importance of the student in the learning process. In addition, it is also Plato’s assertion in Book VII that the metaphor of the cave, asserting man’s ignorance prior to learning, results in the need for a teacher who can provide exposure to different subjects, different perspectives and a range of educational subject areas. The Cave scenario allows for the evaluation of the many different areas in which man should pursue study, including the study of the actual, the factual, the scientific and the conceptual.
It is not enough to simply assert that by studying a number of different subjects, the prisoner will gain enough knowledge to determine their own route towards wisdom: there is greater support for the view that the process orientation of learning, which includes the assessment of the learning process and the determination of impacts for wisdom underscores the benefits of this perspective in the development of a modern curriculum. Philosophy Essays.