Consider Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Russell's chapter on the appearance/reality distinction.
What connections can you make between these two readings?
What common philosophical problem are they considering?
Can you think of any examples of why distinguishing between appearance and reality is important?
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Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” is a reflection on the distinction between appearance and reality. Plato argues that there is the world of appearances and there is the real world. Plato does not have a brute distinction between appearance and reality. For example, even people with opinions, which Plato believes is the lowest form of knowledge, can still know some kind of truth. It is just that in the Allegory of the Cave, the focus is on the person who can reach the highest level of knowledge. It is not as if the world of appearances is completely false. The world of appearances is the world we see through our sensory organs: sight, touch, taste, smell and so on. However, Plato argues that there must be a suprasensible world above and beyond this world of appearances. In other words, what makes this sensory world with its multitude of difference even possible. Similarly, Bertrand Russell in his 1912 book The Problems of Philosophy argues that this is a problem in philosophy and he too makes a distinction between appearance and reality. Russell makes the distinction differently from Plato. Russell's work is founded on doubt, while Plato's theory is founded on ascent. In fact, if you scan both texts, the word "ascent" appears in the Republic many times, while Russell does not even cite Plato at all. Russell relies on a different approach: how does one know that anything is real....
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