Like many others, I was convinced that philosophy was detached from reality and its concepts did not apply to the real world. However, throughout this course, I became acquainted with a wide array of ideas which I found to be actively manifesting in my life. In this paper, I would like to elaborate on how Plato’s Cave, the Apology of Socrates, and Descartes’ Meditations relate to my experience. Plato’s Cave helped me comprehend the limits of human knowledge whereas the Apology of Socrates and the divine paradox set me out on a journey of self-discovery. Lastly, Descartes’ Meditations made me question my moderate fatalist views and the concept of predetermination that I used to find favorable.
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Plato presented his Allegory in the form of an extended metaphor of a cave dwelled by people who watch shadows projected on the blank wall in front of them. The prisoners are unable to see the objects that cast these shadows nor can they leave the cave, for they are chained to the wall. Even though at first, this Allegory appeared to be rather bizarre, after giving it some thought, I realized that it taught us the bitter truth about the limits of our human condition.
In my case, I have always had that striving to be right, get to the root of every problem, and understand the world’s phenomena. In my pursuit of truth, I only operated oversimplified ideas which permeated the Internet, social and mass media. For instance, I found myself in a heated argument with a friend trying to advocate for closed borders and immigration ban. Now I see how what I thought was the right solution was a shadow on the cave’s wall. Its confines would not let me perceive the issue in its complexity. On the other hand, I wondered if anyone could solve such dilemmas. Plato showed me that despite the humankind’s great aptitudes, our cognitive skills are likely to remain limited setting us for life or trial and error.
Socrates is an example of a person who died defending his ideas. The part of his legal self-defence speech otherwise known as the Apology that struck me the most was “The Wisest Man.” In that part, Socrates explained how he solved the divine paradox in which he proved that the wisest of men could be the most ignorant of them all. After some conversations with Athens society’s most renowned members, the philosopher discovered that many of them were impostors, unqualified and unknowledgeable. He concluded that he would rather be himself than any of those people no matter how much adoration and respect they were receiving.
My example deals with modern day realities and will hopefully showcase how timeless Socrates’ wisdom is. I used to be a social media addict, and like many other young people, I squandered my time on Instagram. For several months, I followed one girl Stacey from high school closely, for the life she was living (or at least seemed to be live) was the definition of my dream life. I compared myself to Stacey continuously, assessing every aspect of her life from her outfits to her life goals worth admiration. One can only imagine my shock when I learnt that the perfect girl was admitted to a psychiatric ward with severe anxiety and depression.
The one that I held as an ideal and with whom I would swap lives without a moment of hesitation was miserable and did not enjoy her trips and adventures. That is how learnt that the happiest person may be the saddest, and things are more than meets the eye. That occurrence helped me focus on my true self as opposed to being torn between my perceived mediocrity and overestimating others.
In “Fourth Meditation,” Descartes stated that humans’ penchant to making mistakes was substantial evidence of the presence of free will. Back in his day, the Christian paradigm was predominant, so the philosopher put his argument in the religious context. In his opinion, God would not grant a person the ability to make a judgement that would sometimes prove to be faulty and cloud his or her reason. It is obvious that everyone makes mistakes and goes off the righteous path from time to time. Were humans’ actions predetermined by God or fate, human error would not be possible.
In my senior year, I was to partake in a social sciences contest. I was under the strong impression that it was something I was bound to do as my parents, teachers, and peers all prompted me to participate and counted on me.
Even though I was leaning towards determinist views and believed in fate, at one point a restless teenager that I was, I asked myself if that was all there was to life. On the day before the contest, I broke the news that I am not leaving for the city where the event was to take place. All in all, I broke the mold, received short-lived satisfaction, and soon realized that I made a mistake. However, after a while, I came to a comforting thought that I acted on my free will and made a decision despite all odds, defying my “fate.”
I must admit that this introductory course has met my expectations regarding its relevance. It made me a neat observer and helped look at the world from a different angle. I took the utmost pleasure in analyzing some of my life events within the discourse of the ideas that I deemed most resonant and essential. It was exceptionally revelatory how Socrates’, Plato’s, and Descartes’ ideas applied to this day and age and could help a person discover their identity and reassess some convictions.