Essay on Plato's The Republic – Should We Search for the Truth?

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Plato's Republic – Should We Search for the Truth?

There is the common belief that what we experience as reality is just a mere illusion of the truth. Plato's allegory of the cave in "The Republic" describes human beings as being chained in a cave, such that they cannot move but are forced to face a wall, onto which shadows of puppets and themselves are projected. They are deceived into believing that their reality is composed of these "shadows" when actually, the world of truth is the "light" outside the cave. This analogy insinuates the probability that we have been entertaining "false notions" about life, and all our beliefs, ranging from religion to the sciences, are merely representations of the truth. What is this "light" that
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This would encompass "all things beautiful and right" and the "source of reason and truth". The former most probably refers to virtues like piety and compassion, while the latter includes wisdom and the ability to think logically (both of which are prerequisites for making informed decisions). In fact, Plato has so much faith in the power of the truth that he believes only those who have "arrived at the good" will have the necessary qualities to be "able ministers of State".

A subtle disclaimer in the allegory indicated that Socrates' interpretations of life are only his "opinions" based on his "poor beliefs". Although we cannot be certain whether Plato was playing it safe or had the intention to make Socrates come across as humble, we can infer that Socrates himself has not seen the "light". Instead of being derived from personal experience, he arrived at his description of truth on the basis of intuition and personal beliefs. Moreover Plato also fails to mention his reasons or evidence for believing that life is a deception. He does not give any real life examples of instances when we have been deceived and therefore the allegory fails to convince the reader completely that his perceived reality consists merely of "shadows". Conversely in the "Meditations", Descartes attempted to doubt everything because he had often accepted "false opinions as true". He proposed three causes of deception:

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