Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Plato's Cave Is Not An Atheist Revelation, It's A Longing For The Gods

The Analogy of Plato's Cave has fascinated many different kinds of people and groups, and continues to influence our imaginations and philosophies to this day. Everyone seems to draw their own interpretation based on whatever area of interest they want to insert into the opening. Atheists in particular enjoy using it as an argument against theism, suggesting that the shadows on the walls are illusions of Gods made my men for the sake of holding people in control, and that to break out into the light of the day is to become atheistic. This has grown to be a dominant interpretation, or at least one used among the most often. However, this is not the case at all. 

In our examination, we must first begin with the clear fact that Plato was no atheist, and neither was Socrates. And secondly, that they also clearly believed in the Greek Gods. Not only were they theists, but polytheists. This makes Plato's Cave a little more revealing because caves were sometimes considered precincts of Gods themselves; starting points of holy and sacred places of worship and wisdom. People who went into these caves did not go there to be chained or shown illusions, but rather, to connect with the Gods.

When Plato talks about the shadows and illusions of the cave being all that men are shown, what he's saying is that there is only so much that the human mind can perceive about life and this world, that it's not possible for humans to know everything. Our capacity is limited in many respects. However, to come out into the light, or into the Sun which was considered a God that touched all things and descends from the realm of the Divine, is to be able to see more through the wisdom and guidance of the Higher Powers of the world, aka the Gods. Plato's Cave is actually something which suggests that, without the Gods, without the guidance of the Higher Powers above, man is bound to nothing more than what his own eyes can see, which is sometimes shadows at best. Humans are extremely bound to a limited perception, and it is by the light of the Gods that we see more. 

Plato and Socrates were men who not only understood man's lack of knowledge when relying entirely on himself, but also, as Socrates put it, I know that I know nothing. The Cave is a reflection of this unknowing that man still possesses in many ways to this very day. We come out of the darkness and into the light through the Gods who know all things, and it is this natural light from above that allows us to not only be free of our chains, but to actually see where we are going. It gives direction to our lives, and therefore meaning and purpose. The biggest problem, which is also elaborated on in the Cave, is that there are some in the Cave who are content with the ignorance and don't want to move, even becoming hostile toward those who try to set them free. The reason for this is because, even today, in many subjects, men are content with what they want to believe and how they want to see the world. This is especially revealed in things like politics, where millions of people will support their candidate no matter what they do, or what surrounds them. The facts are irrelevant, and therefore, they are content with the images they are shown. They simply don't want their worldview to be upset, as is the case with some of the Cave inhabitants. This isn't a slap at spirituality, it's simply an acknowledgement of the sloth and confirmation bias of the human mind. We would often rather be comfortable in our beliefs, than working for the truth.

To come out of the darkness and into the light of the Gods, is to gain the capacity for philosophy, personal examination, free thought, and a liberated life. The Gods wish for no one to be chained. They gave us a mind so we could think and live. To be a philosopher is to love wisdom, and as Plato said, "Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods." To love wisdom is to seek truth, and as Plato also said, "Truth is the beginning of every good to the Gods, and of every good to man."

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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