The setting of the cave in Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” is metaphorical, as are the restraints that keep the prisoners bound in place. Those imprisoned in the cave are chained facing a wall so that they can only see shadows cast by what passes behind them. The chains could represent many things.
- Discuss what kinds of “chains” prevent people today from understanding the truth of their situation in modern society?
- What can we do to help members of our nation escape these “chains”?
- What “chains” might also keep us from realizing the larger truths of reality?
Which of Francis Bacon’s “Four Idols” do you find most difficult to understand?
- Try paraphrasing portions of Bacon’s explanation in the text, that is: explaining what he has to say using your own words to come up with relevant and contemporary examples of the kinds of “misunderstanding” he addresses to make his theories clearer.
Write a 3-5 page paper in which you explain the main points of Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language” and incorporate examples from personal experience, current periodicals, or the internet. Use 12 font and double spaced.
Orwell’s overall point about how the degradation of language goes hand-in-hand with the degradation of thought likely still stands today. Updated for the second decade of the 21st century, we could interpret the various conventions of online communication to represent a sort of linguistic dumbing-down. Perhaps it is the case, as Orwell would likely contend, that Twitter, for example, and its forced brevity of form has translated into ‘brevity’ and expedience of thought, by way of the transformation of language required to make tweets possible. Arguably, however, Orwell’s point describes only part of the problem of how “chains” prevent people today from understanding the truth of their situation in modern society. Today’s “chains” are predominantly the chains of tribalism and the echo-chamber nature of positions, opinions, and beliefs all of us hold and reinforce within our tribes. In turn, our tribal beliefs keep us chained to particular ways of seeing the world, often in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
What can we do to help members of our nation escape these “chains”?
During anti-Muslim communal riots in the predominantly Buddhist island nation of Sri Lanka this past week, the country’s government temporarily blocked access to Facebook and other social media in order to stem fear-mongering, race-baiting, and the spread of rumor. Such an approach is untenable here, for a variety of reasons, but the tactic points to the importance of softening rather than reinforcing the walls—pun intended—which separate tribes.
What “chains” might also keep us from realizing the larger truths of reality?
Perhaps contrary to both Plato’s and Orwell’s points, it is possible—perhaps even probable—that formal education creates tribes of the (very) educated. There then may be some justification...
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