Published on February 28, 2014
CLASS 16 EWRT 2
AGENDA Discussion: Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" Bio Rhetorical Strategies Questions for Critical Reading Introduce Essay #4: Privilege and Perspective
WHO WAS PLATO?
A Brief Biography • Plato was born around the year 428 BCE in Athens. Plato's birth name was Aristocles, and he gained the nickname Platon, meaning broad, because of his broad build. His family had a history in politics, and Plato was destined to a life in keeping with this history.
When Plato met Socrates, he had met his definitive teacher. As Socrates’s disciple, Plato adopted his philosophy and style of debate, and directed his studies toward the question of virtue and the formation of a noble character.
Plato was in military service from 409 BC to 404 BC. When the Peloponnesian War ended in 404 BC he joined the Athenian oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants, one of whose leaders was his uncle Charmides. The violence of this group quickly prompted Plato to leave it. In 403 BC, when democracy was restored in Athens, he had hopes of pursuing his original goal of a political career. Socrates’s execution in 399 BC had a profound effect on Plato, and was perhaps the final event that would convince him to leave Athenian politics forever.
After 399 BC Plato began to write extensively. The order in which he wrote his major texts is also uncertain. However, most scholars agree to divide Plato's major work into three distinct groups. The first of these is known as the Socratic Dialogues because of how close he stays to Socrates’s teachings. The period from 387 to 361 BC is often called Plato's "middle" or transitional period. The major difference between these texts and his earlier works is that he begins to establish his own voice in philosophy. Plato's most influential work, The Republic, is also a part of his middle dialogues. The Republic covers almost every aspect of Plato's thought. Book VII of The Republic is “The Allegory of the Cave.”
Plato founded a school of learning which he called the Academy. Plato's school is often described at the first European university. Its curriculum offered subjects including astronomy, biology, mathematics, political theory, and philosophy. Plato hoped the Academy would provide a place where thinkers could work toward better government in the Grecian cities. He would preside over the Academy until his death.
It was around 365 BC when Plato's famous pupil Aristotle began to study at the Academy. In 347 Plato died, leaving the Academy to his sister's son Speusippus. The Academy remained a model for institutions of higher learning until it was closed, in 529 CE, by the Emperor Justinian.
A GROUP PROJECT
THE TASK Together, draw a picture of Plato’s Cave. Label the significant aspects of the cave. Make it fit for overhead projection See pages 445-46
The Allegory 1. Describe how the people in the cave are situated in Plato's parable. Why can't they move their legs or necks to take a look around? What is the only thing they are capable of seeing? What is their only source of light? 2. What do these prisoners trapped in the cave believe is real? 3. How does the prisoner react when he first sees sunlight? Why?
4. What are the stages of the liberated prisoner's experience outside the cave? 5. What is the response of the prisoners to the news of the man who has escaped about the world outside? Why? 6. Compare the perspective of the freed prisoner with the cave prisoners.
IN GROUPS, DISCUSS “THE ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE” FROM PLATO’S REPUBLIC CONSIDER HIS RHETORICAL STRATEGIES, THE ALLEGORY ITSELF, AND THE “QUESTIONS FOR CRITICAL READING” (PAGES 453-54)
WHICH RHETORICAL STRATEGIES DOES PLATO USE?
Rhetorical Strategies Allegory: a story in which the characters and situations actually represent people and characters in another context. Dialogue: Asking questions that require simple answers. Slowly, the questioning proceeds to elucidate the answers to complex issues. Clarity Simplicity Directness
Questions for Critical Reading
QUESTIONS What is the relationship between Socrates and Glaucon? Are they equal in intellectual authority? Are the concerned with the same issues? How does the allegory of the prisoners in the cave watching shadows on a wall relate to us today? What shadows do we see, and how do they distort our sense of what is real?
QUESTIONS Are we prisoners in the same sense that Plato’s characters are? If Plato is right that the material world is an illusion, how would too great a reliance on materialism affect ethical decisions?
QUESTIONS What ethical questions are raised by Plato’s Allegory? In paragraph 49, Plato states that the virtue of wisdom “contains a divine element.” What is a divine element? What does this statement seem to mean? Do you agree with Plato?
QUESTIONS What distinction does Plato make between the public and the private? Would you make the same distinctions (see paras. 53-55)? What does Plato’s allegory of the cave tell us about how we recognize the world?
QUESTIONS According to the allegory, how do cave prisoners get free? What does this suggest about intellectual freedom? What does the allegory suggests about the process of enlightenment or education?
According to The Allegory of the Cave, what is the main task of the philosopher? Who are the “guardians” or philosopher-kings? Why should philosopher-kings rule? Do you agree?
ESSAY #4: CLASS 19 You will respond to one of several prompts provided. There will be prompts addressing each Plato and Woolf. Your essay will be between 500 and 750 words. The number of pages will depend on your handwriting! You will have two hours to write. Please bring a clean, large Blue Book: (Approx. 8x10). You can buy them at the bookstore. You may write with either a number 2 pencil (dark lead) or blue or black pen.
Ways to Proceed Come to class for the discussions Participate in, listen to, and think about our class discussions Read the two essays Reread the two essays—make notes about your thoughts Review the “Suggestions for Writing” sections at the end of each essay. Buy your Blue Book Bring an appropriate writing utensil
• Read A World of Ideas: • Virginia Woolf "Shakespeare’s Sister" (761-776) ) • Post #30 Questions (TBD) for Critical Reading: (page 776) • Post #31 QHQ Woolf or Plato HOMEWORK
CLASS 16 EWRT 2 AGENDA Discussion: Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" Bio Rhetorical Strategies Questions for Critical Reading Introduce Essay ...
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