Socrates Essay, Research Paper
Socrates believes that the everyday world is an illusion compared to the world of knowledge. People are often too distracted by money and materialistic things to appreciate truth and reality. Socrates says, ?the capacity for knowledge is innate in each man?s mind.? This exemplifies the point that man has the ability to look into the world of truth, but when one is caught up in superficiality then truth does not receive the attention and glory that it should. This is why Socrates feels that the arts, such as poetry, should be censored; it would help decrease the digression of society?s intellect. In today?s world television and movies are complications that only hinder the thought processes in society.When people are consumed in the shallow world, they see reality as mere shadows compared to truth. Many times, violent images seen in movies will remain in a person?s mind. This obsession with violence and action takes away from concentration on ?the good? and does not benefit society. ?The bad? does not change when one is exposed to it, ?the bad? changes the person. So, by limiting this exposure to violence one can focus on finding ?the good.? ?The good?, according to Socrates is ?the source not only of the intelligibility of the objects of knowledge, but also of their being and reality.? When the mind is preoccupied with the desultory world, it does not see truth; that which is important and real. Television today is geared towards brainless viewing. MTV shows display fast images that do not require any thinking, but only keep the eye entertained. This is a form of ?eye candy? which is society?s form of entertainment, rather than looking for the meaning of life and the good in the world. Viewers are sucked into this and no longer care about anything other than instant pleasure. Not all pleasure is considered good, and this type of instant pleasure is not. Pleasure should not be taken to the extreme, because it will then be unhealthy for the mind and the body. Socrates explains that the mind, body, and soul must all be in unison in order to be healthy, then happiness will ensue. Moderation is a key element to contentment and should be practiced in today?s society. Many people search for happiness by engulfing themselves in life?s highest pleasures, others look for contentment by over-working themselves to try and be the richest. However, these extremes will not produce happiness, instead, one should find tranquillity by seeking the truth, and looking inside to find reality and true beauty. Since the material world is simply an illusion of the world of knowledge, then television and movies are an illusion of this illusion. One cannot look to these for the answers, or even try to relate it to their own life. It is not real and should not be looked upon as truth. Although movies are an exaggeration of real life, it is not an exaggeration of ?the good? but rather, of the emptiness and shallowness of life.The allegory of the cave illustrates the difference between the materialistic world and the intelligible world. Socrates describes a man with his arms and legs chained, and his neck in a brace, which only allows him to look at a wall with shadows. This is a metaphor for the man who does not transcend to the world of enlightenment. They can only see shadows of what is real and true. Man memorizes these shadows and thinks that he is intelligent; however, truth lies beneath the depths of the everyday world, but can only be established when the layers of immateriality are torn away. Another aspect of the cave is the idea that if man escapes the cave and sees the light he is no longer able to see the shadows that he used to see. This would cause him to believe that the shadows were truer than the light; hence, the illusion of reality would be real to the man, rather than truth. This creates discordance because man will not be able to understand truth and that which is incontestable. The cave also symbolizes the idea that memorization of the shadows produces intelligence. Man often thinks that regurgitating information is intelligence, however, this does not involve a thought process, or any type of reasoning. Therefore, it is not valid to say that one is smart due to a keen sense of memory.Censorship would help assist man in seeing ?the good? because he would more readily see truth without all of the diversions working against actuality. The public would no longer be influenced by actions from the visible world. They would more easily be able to differentiate between the true meaning of life from the surface meaning of life. Movies often display images that gear man away from the truth and the good. They depict the idea that pleasure is the utmost importance in life and ?being happy? consists of what makes one feel good at the moment, without considering consequence and veracity. This produces a society that does not care about finding the meaning of life; a self-centered group which is limited to the outskirts of realism and cannot focus on truth. If these images were limited, then much of the superficial world would be expiated and truth could surface from everyday life. Socrates also believes that ?the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until its eye can bear to look straight at reality, and at the brightest of all realities, which is what we call the good.? This cannot be done without a clear mind. Limiting the amount of insignificant information allows one to fully appreciate life and nature. It is not enough to observe nature, one must learn from it in order to enjoy it. Nature holds many secrets and cannot be discovered without awareness and understanding. Socrates believes that every man is part beast, and part lion. He says that ?flattery and meanness when they subordinate the spirited element in us to the unruliness of the beast, and when, to gratify the beast?s greed and love of money, they school the lion to put up with insults and turn it into an ape.? Violence enlarges this beast within man and creates aggression, which causes disorder. However, one must be able to overlook outside influences and search for the truer meaning in life. By surmounting the influence of society, one can withstand the evil displayed and look inside the ordinary, in order to find the extraordinary. Pure reality is classified as judgement, knowledge, understanding, and all excellencies of mind. Reality does not change, nor the things that are considered beautiful. They are always there; it is only a matter of discovering them. Socrates believes that if man does not transcend to the world of knowledge, then he really only knows the bottom and middle layer. Man will constantly stray between these two layers believing that the middle is the top. However, one who disregards everyday tendencies can reach the true top and achieve real fulfillment and unadulterated pleasure. True pleasure is not measured by a person?s bank account; it is measured by the unity of the entire self. In Socrates? perfect society, the rulers will be true philosophers, and will be raised in an atmosphere that breeds this type of synthesis. This society will have a limit on the arts and poetry because these are two highly influential elements that have the capability to ignite immorality. In order to avoid this, Socrates places limits on the subjects that the arts deal with. He will not allow any type of writings that show the gods to be fighting, because this places a negative connotation of the holy. He also believes that this portrays fighting and wars as being positive. Although the ruler will be highly intelligent, he is still man and can be influenced. Mental pictures often form in one?s head and do not as easily leave the mind as they entered. Distorted movies and song lyrics can become such a normal entity that the message being portrayed is often forgotten or repressed. These ideas, now imbedded within the mind, can cause one to behave in unjust ways and work against reaching true reality. Man becomes consumed in the natural, rather than looking to the supernatural, which is found in everyday occurrences. Society is changing everyday and movies are becoming more and more violent, as well as the crimes that occur today. The outlook on happiness is transforming to an extreme emphasis on money, and instant pleasure is becoming the one importance in life. Values are being demoralized and negative influences are being idolized. This is all done by the arts, because it is the one thing that is never definite or exact. Other aspects of life are definite, such as mathematical solutions and so forth. However, the arts are never definite because they come from the creative aspect of man. It is not absolute and can be interpreted in many different ways. However, by exposing society to the good in life, or assisting in exhibiting the real and unmasking true reality, the arts will display this and censorship will no longer be needed. It can only happen in a perfect society because man?s thoughts cannot be controlled, and although man is a product of society, there will always be exceptions to the rule. So, censorship will always be needed in today?s world because true reality can only be seen with a lucid mind and unison with the body and soul.