Although Plato’s allegory of the cave addresses the concept of perception in general, applying it to religion could help to explain various religious differences and justify the religion-based consequences. As religion still plays a significant role in determining an individual’s lifestyle, personal ideology, and moral principles, it also affects his perception. This essay will discuss the two most prominent disadvantages of religious systems and their influence on the people and two corresponding factors of perception – beliefs, and values.
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The first disadvantage is the ability to manipulate the population and is caused by beliefs. Plato’s allegory of the cave only includes one cave and one person that escapes the projection of reality presented by the shadow on the walls. However, no one knows what would happen if a tunnel connected the cave to another cave designed just like the first one. As the person that leaves the cave becomes free of inflicted perceptions and biases, it would be easier for him to meet and communicate with other people outside the cave. Unlike him, the people that were left in the cave would face difficulties if they were to meet other people from a similar cave, as they would eventually start comparing themselves to another group. Although religion itself influences various aspects of people’s lives, religion’s primary effect on people is that it forms the core of the nation’s culture. The cultural element includes everything that people do and how they do it as a whole, what unites them and what makes them similar. As religion was used to answer initial questions, like why the rain falls, and why the sun goes down in the evening, Aristotle acknowledged the traditional religion as necessary for learning philosophical truths (Segev, 2012). Ou (2017) mentioned that religion affected people’s different perceptions of nonverbal behaviors and concepts of time and space. Although religion forms the base for the nation’s culture and unity, meeting other people outside of the group could potentially end with hostility.
The major disadvantage of religion in terms of perception is that religion could alter people’s beliefs to the extent of violence. Terrorist organizations frequently use extremist variations of religion to reduce people’s scope of perception to a minimum and manipulate people. Not only the aspect of manipulation of perception is valid in this situation, but also the manipulation of the reasoning part of nature. Airoboman & Osawaru (2019) use the description of the reasoning part as the only way to know reality in Plato, which implies relying on the reasons rather than senses and feelings. Although the reasoning is the part that ‘will not deceive’ the individual, the manipulation of the reason could affect the individual in a way that he would reject his feelings and senses (Airoboman & Osawaru, 2019). Thus, there is danger behind religion and its’ ability to interfere with people’s beliefs and reasoning as it could make the individual ignore the signals from the surrounding world.
The second disadvantage is the population’s inability to adapt to the changes and agree with other opinions, and it is an outcome of values part of religion. In Plato’s allegory of the cave, chained people presented themselves with trophies that presented no value to the real world and the person that left the cave; the same contradiction applies to the modern world. Like the enlightened one, the modern generation expresses freethinking more than the older generations, who currently portray the chained people in the cave. With each generation, younger people gradually expand the population’s shared boundaries of perception and face rejection from the older population. Although the older people’s desire to stick to the well-tried way of living does not speak to the religion directly, as the essay previously stated, the religion founded the base of the population’s culture. The unwillingness to part with current culture and lifestyle also speaks to the problems with perception affected by the religion. The society that was founded on the values of religion several decades ago had altered perception. According to Mitchell, “people live in the prisons of their own making,” forced to live by the laws they have created that limit their perception (Airoboman & Osawaru, 2019, p. 58). For example, divorces were forbidden once due to religious reasons but now became a routine part of the legal system. Children’s disobedience was punished with violence, but now people acknowledge the consequences of violent experiences at an early age with the introduction of the value of mental stability. Although society makes small steps toward the progress in the expansion of shared perception, the rate of the change could be accelerated if it was not for the disapproval of the older generation. Though modern society is considered to be enlightened people in Plato’s allegory of the cave, the reality is that modern society also lives in the cave of perceptions next to the older generations. It takes courage and determination to break the chains and escape from the cave and go back to the other ones in neighboring caves to share the light of truth.
In conclusion, this essay discussed the two most prominent disadvantages of religious systems and their influence on the people and two corresponding factors of perception – beliefs, and values. Although religious beliefs laid the foundation for the nations’ culture and traditions, the manipulation of beliefs and the reasoning part could be used for malicious goals. Religion partially determines the values in society and highlights perception differences among nations and generations, which leads to conflicts and generational gaps and affects the society’s movement towards progress.
Airoboman, F. A., & Osawaru, C. O. (2019). Plato’s allegory of the cave and its implications for modern living. Polac International Journal of Humanities and Security Studies, 4(1), 55-66.
Ou, Q. (2017). A brief introduction to perception. Studies in Literature and Language, 15(4), 18-28. Web.
Segev, M. (2017). Aristotle on religion. Cambridge University Press.