An explanation of platos divided line

It is important to realize, when reading the allegory of the cave and of the line, that Plato means to depict not only four ways of thinking, but four ways of life. To use an example, imagine that a person in each of these stages were asked to say what courage is. The understanding of courage would differ widely from stage to stage. There might be mention of the Marines or New York City firemen.

An explanation of platos divided line

Leave a comment The Divided Line Plato Explaining the world in which we live has been the essential pursuit of Philosophy since the beginning. Many have accounted for the world in different ways; from what substance everything is made being the usual quest.

It not only explains its essence, but the theory of knowledge according to Plato. This ideology is demonstrated through a line, which separates four metaphysical models of knowledge and the world. These models are not completely separate, but more of a ladder in which man must realize the next step of clarity by building off the last; the journey from ignorance to true knowledge.

Let us define the four different parts of the Divided Line. The line divides the world into two main fields; opinion and knowledge, or the visible and intelligible world, respectively.

The visible world is perceived by the senses and subject to change. The intelligible world cannot be perceived by the senses, but only known and understood. This world is not subject to change, but rather is eternal and within it holds universal ideals.

These two fields are then divided once more. Opinion is divided into perception or illusion and material objects. Knowledge, or the intelligible world, is divided into reasoning and understanding. Plato explains a situation in which there are human beings, kept chained, facing a cave wall since childhood, who have never seen the light of the sun and cannot see each other.

Between the people and the mouth of the cave is a fire, in front of which men pass carrying statues shaped like animals and other objects. The people in chains can only see the shadows cast from these objects. If one of the people were released and allowed to see the objects that had cast the shadows his whole life, he would now know a new level of what the objects he saw were.

Simplified Divided Line

If he were to look at the fire itself, he would certainly be blinded momentarily, but once used to the light he would be able to understand that the fire was the source of the shadows. Thus moving from believing the shadows are reality, to believing the objects and fire casting the shadows are.

Imagine further that the man were to be let out of the cave all together. First he would be blinded, as with the fire inside the cave, and would take a while to acclimate to this new reality.

After adjusting to such illumination, the man would be able to see clear objects of the world as reality. After this, the man would be able to look at the sun, and realize it is the source and reason for all he is seeing.

An explanation of platos divided line

The shadows cast on the cave wall and the prisoners knowing only those shadows represents the majority of humans. Most people go through life only seeing imitations of the truth, or reflections, but not the real thing.

The man set free to see the objects and fire causing the shadows transcends from the subset of illusion to the subset of beholding the material objects, while still residing in the visible world.

The latter is a better cognitive state to be in, rather than merely seeing shadows of true objects. The progression from visible to intelligible world takes place when the man exits the cave and steps into blinding sunlight.

The intelligible world is that in which true understanding begins. The initial segment people enter into in the intelligible world is that of mathematical theory and reasoning.

In this world, conclusions are made from axioms; only true conclusions and valid reasoning exists in this division of the intelligible world. This is where abstract and metaphysical theories would live.

An explanation of platos divided line

Ideas that are not physical, like a book or tree, but ideas such as the Pythagorean Theorem or the Quadratic Equation; something that holds true in any situation. In this state there exists pure and absolute definitions, or Forms. In this state of philosophical understanding lie the universals, which is hinted at in the first subset of the intelligible world of mathematical reasoning.

This state of understanding is concerned with the abstract Idea and Form of the entire world; the plan of nature as a whole, rather than specific objects or beings.

Plato believed above all knowledge and understanding, the ultimate object of comprehension was the Good. He believed that through the Good everything gains worth.

The Good is a very perplexing concept, and there is no one definition that all philosophers agree on. In attempt to erect something to work off of, however, we can see the Good as being that from which virtues derive.

The chief virtues wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice come from the Good. The Good is not a Form or Idea in itself, however, which is what makes it so disconcerting. Plato believed that humans naturally seek out the Good, and if one transcends from the bottom world of illusion to the world of philosophical reasoning, they can hope to attain a rational mind capable of grasping the Good.

He explains the metaphysical, or the abstract concepts of being, knowing, etc. Of course, this is where it is difficult to keep his epistemology and metaphysics straight.Apr 02,  · Plato’s “Divided Line” is one of the most studied and famous explanations of the world.

It not only explains its essence, but the theory of knowledge according to Plato. This ideology is demonstrated through a line, which separates four metaphysical models of knowledge and the world. An accurate explanation of the divided line without that bias means basically everything in the current article gets shifted down one step: The world of sense objects IS the world of shadows; and does not differ substantially from what we call shadows, images, etc.

the other. Plato goes on to divide each half of the line again, making four divisions in total. Opinion is divided into belief (pistis) and illusion or imagination (eikasia).

Illusion, the lowest form of epistemic state, is characterized in Plato’s discussion by shadows and reflections. We are going to examine Plato’s metaphysics and epistemology.

The Divided Line explains both the nature of things in existence and our corresponding mental states when we engage with those things. More simply put, the divided line explains what exists in the world and how we “know” it.

the other. Plato goes on to divide each half of the line again, making four divisions in total. Opinion is divided into belief (pistis) and illusion or imagination (eikasia). Illusion, the lowest form of epistemic state, is characterized in . Video: Plato's Analogy of the Divided Line In this lesson, you'll learn about an ancient and influential view of knowledge from the philosopher Socrates and his student Plato.

The Divided Line and The Allegory of the Cave - New York Essays