Essay 1 - Enlightenment - Final Draft

essay about enlightenment.
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    “ Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil ”   Immanuel Kant believes that an enlightened person is one who is brave enough to understand things by relying on himself. It is the fear to depend on one’s thought and rational faculty that leads to human ignorance. He thinks “laziness and cowardice” are the main reasons of such fear. Humans are afraid to take the path toward knowledge; therefore, they remain ignorant for their entire life. Only a small number of people will benefit from their naturally given gift, their intellect,  by “thinking for themselves” . The key to this, Kant believes, lies in freedom, “freedom to use reason publicly”. In “The Allegory of the Cave” by  Plato, human  beings in the cave resemble individuals who are not inclined to take the risk toward knowledge and the rare case that one person thinks differently and decides to uncover the truth. The author tries to show that our perception of the sensory world is deficient and there are realities beyond our thoughts and beliefs about this world. Plato tries to demonstrate the humans’ lack of knowledge , and the central theme of the allegory is humans imposing limitations on themselves. Plato describes a den in which human  beings have been living since their childhood. They are restrained and are not able to see much of their surroundings. Their legs and necks are shackled in a way that they cannot see what’s happening behind them. A wall all across the den separates them from people carrying various statues and animals made of different materials. The fire that is glowing on the other side of the wall projects the shadows of those statues and animals on a screen in front of the human beings, whom Plato later refers to as “prisoners” (868).  Since the prisoners are not able to turn their heads and see the objects being carried over the wall, they presume that the shadows they see are the real objects.  However, in this situation, some of the people manage to use their rational mind and realize the true knowledge. The skeptical prisoners will question the root of the shadows and  begin to look for the srcin. For example, Plato illustrates the moment when one of the prisoners is exposed to the light of the sun. The prisoner will be extremely irritated by its excessive  brightness. The pain he will have is so intense that it will force him to face away from the light and look back at the objects that he used to see. He needs some time to adapt himself to the new state and to become familiarized with the objects themselves and not merely shadows of them. This represents the evolution of thought in the prisoner as he opens his mind to possibilities  beyond his old imaginations. By the time he finds the truth, he certainly will praise himself and feel sorry for prisoners inside the den that would “confer honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows” (870).  This newly found mindset of the prisoner allows him to see the world, including the inmates and their deluded thoughts, from a different angle. Plato points out that the “journey towards the intellectual world” (871) is indeed the awakening of the soul. One can be able to distinguish between the good and the bad only after a lot of attempts. The rise of the soul to the world of ideas is not a one-way trip, and Plato thinks that one must come back to the darkness of the den and try to see things now that he has seen the truth behind them, even though he is unwilling to do so. It will be difficult for him to define those shadows which he used to see because his vision is still not clear. “Bodily eye and mind’s eye” (871) are dazzled in two ways, the author believes. Once, when the prisoner comes out of the den and ascends to the upper world, and the other time when he dives down from the upper world to the den. In either case, he confronts a big change that is too hard for him to deal with.  Plato argues that we, humans, were born with wisdom and a good appreciation of what is correct and incorrect. However, it slowly faded in us because we were not entirely ready to use it  properly. As he states, “the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being” (872). World  of becoming, he thinks, is the world in which truths repeatedly change as opposed to the world of being where truths are constant. In this manner the world of being represents a higher and an ideal state of mind rather than the world of becoming which is full of misconceptions. Escaping the darkness is just a matter of remembering the abandoned wisdom and leaving the habits that hinder the soul’s desire to rise to the world above . Plato further says that neither the uneducated nor the educated will be “ good servants of the State ”  (873). Since they either have no sense of what is right or wrong or that they consider themselves the wisest amongst all. The first category can’t lead any groups of people because of lack of knowledge, and the second category have ascended so much into the realm of reality that they cannot easily relate to and communicate with ordinary  people. Plato emphasizes that it i s philosophers’ duty to enlighten the prisoners and the ignorant  people by showing them the path to the intellectual world but then make them descend back should they choose to stay in the above world. After that, prisoners “will see ten thousand times  better than the inhabitants of the den because they have seen the just and good in their truth” (874). Plato believes that philosophers must rule over humans because they are well-informed, “self  - taught” (874) and unlike other   rulers they take part in betterment of society. Only in this case the best type of government will be attained. The government in which its rulers don’t fight over dominance but nevertheless struggle to deliver what’s beneficial for its citizens. He further adds that philosophers should be given power so that they can bring about “the true blessings of  life that are virtue and wisdom” (875).  Any person other than a philosopher will only think about his own interest and therefore harms the society. I agree with Plato in regard to most humans being ignorant. For instance, if we take a look at current societies, we can undoubtedly see many governments base their ruling system on religion and people will blindly follow their guidelines like mindless drones. Religions that are too much outdated and indeed many of their notions are no longer accepted and useful in developed nations. This is due to many factors. The most important one in my opinion is that  people are not given much freedom to propound their ideas. If they were, they would have had the chance to promote their own assumptions and other people would have become more aware and open to new ways of thinking. But even in today’s world  we see political leaders suppressing the supporters of freedom in a brutal fashion. Another factor that plays a key role in being ignorant is the unwillingness of the people to divorce from their false beliefs. They are so much accustomed to those beliefs that any notion of change is unnerving to them. But at some point they have to overcome this fear and wake up from their slumber. Upon this, Wayne Dyer says “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about.”   Plato believes that philosophers are the best to rule over people. It’s partly true considering that they are not materialists and because they have undergone many challenges in life and accordingly have a better sense of what’s beneficial for others and what’ s not. Besides they have already been in the intellectual world for some time thus, it will be easier for citizens to depend upon them and overcome the fear of revolutionizing their mindset.
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