Plato And Patricia King Essay Research Paper

Plato And Patricia King Essay, Research Paper

2000 years ago, Plato, one of the forefathers of Western civilization,

materialized the foundational ideas on reflective thinking in the ?Allegory of

the Cave?, which stemmed from the ?Republic.? In his essay, he

symbolically shows the stages and value of reaching a higher level of thinking.

Being able to reflectively think is so important, it is still being discussed in

our modern times. In the essay ?How do we know? Why do we Believe??, by

Patricia King, the stages of thinking are outlined in order to help educators

better teach critical thinking. She describes how people process information and

arrive at conclusions. Her aspirations for the essay are to help people move

from pre-reflective thinking to reflective. King?s thinking stages are

symbolically represented in Plato?s essay. This connection shows how after

thousands of years, reflective thinking is still needed in our societies. In the

?Allegory of the Cave? from the Republic, Plato describes a situation about

men chained to the walls of a cave. The men are shown nothing but shadows from

puppets, consequently they believe it to be reality. When they hear voices, they

have no doubt those come from the shadows too. Plato then asks, what would

happen if one of the men was released and shown real objects outside the cave?

Would he trust them as real or would he think they were illusions too? After his

eyes grow accustomed to the light and he understood the seasons of the Earth,

would he want to return to the cave? Plato then inquires, if the man were to

venture back in the cave and tell his peers that the shadows were illusions,

would they just say the man?s eyes were destroyed by whatever he saw outside

the cave? And even possibly try to kill him? In Plato?s story, he symbolizes

the stages of thinking very well. The man released from the cave goes through

developmental stages which are profiled in King?s essay. Throughout Plato?s

and King?s essay, both continually show the need for teachers or in Plato?s

case, authority figures. King?s essay can very well be used to explain

Plato?s. A correlation amongst essays written thousands of years apart shows

an overwhelming importance with reflective thinking in societies. This higher

thinking is clearly shown to be needed in order for civilizations to survive.

King outlines the different stages in thinking, which in-turn correspond to

Plato?s essay. Stage one and two of King?s outline are, ?characterized by

the assumption that knowledge is gained through direct, personal observation or

through the word of an authority figure…?(section 11) This quote clearly

pertains to the men believing the cave?s shadows were reality. They think what

they see, in other words their personal observations, must be true. Whatever is

illuminating the shadows can be seen as the men?s authority figures. If this

light show is all they have known for their whole lives, they will be convinced

it is real. In Plato?s essay, authority figures play a major role in the lives

of the men in the caves and the development of their thought processes. King?s

whole essay is directed at teachers being able to understand and help their

students reach a higher level of thinking. King and Plato, though 2000 years

apart, similarly agree on the necessity of teachers. King describes stage three

as answers exist, but are temporarily inaccessible. This stage is reflected when

the man is being dragged out of the cave and his eyes are hurt by the light.

While his eyes are adjusting to the light, he knows answers are out there, but

at the moment he cannot see and understand them. The pain in his eyes makes him

want to turn back. The pain represents unfamiliarity, which like pain makes him

want discontinue the journey. If there wasn?t an authority figure present, the

man would probably turn back. In King?s essay, when a student reaches the

unfamiliarity stage, the teacher has to keep assisting the student in further

development. Stage four is where, ?Evidence emerges as an important ingredient

in the construction of knowledge claims, along with the acknowledgment that the

evidence itself cannot be known with absolute certainty.?(section13) The man

released from the cave discovers a whole new world outside. His eyes adjust to

the sunlight, and he is able to make out images of men, the sun, the moon, and

even the stars. He begins to understand nature?s seasons by observing the

environment. He now understands that what he saw before had nothing to do with

the real world. Therefore, he now looks for evidence when drawing conclusions.

He doesn?t just assume everything that he can see is real. By the man now

understanding that evidence must play a key role in decision making, he has

actually become a reflective thinker. After he has seen the outside world, he

wants to venture back to the cave and teach his old friends of the new life and

how what they are seeing is not reality. Plato and King both stress the

importance of authority figures, and who else can teach reflective thinking than

someone who personally uses the method? The man has now become a teacher, by

venturing back into the cave he is playing his role as an authority figure or as

King would say, an educator. Plato?s line, ?one who has been drag[ged]…away

forcibly up the steep and rugged ascent and…hauled out into the

sunlight,?(section19) is someone who has achieved a higher vision of thinking.

King would agree with the quote in another sense. King would agree, people need

guidance in order to reach reflective thinking. She wouldn?t say people need

to be dragged to a higher level, but guided. Since the two essays are only

symbolic to each other, guided and dragged have virtually the same meaning. The

prisoner who was released would have never discovered his newly found way of

thinking if he was not dragged out of the cave. King?s model is directed at

educators to help guide students to the light. This concept of people needing to

be guided to the light shows how advanced Plato?s thoughts were for his time.

Plato?s intentions with his essay was to show that reflective thinkers were

needed to rule their society. Plato theorized that select individuals would be

taught the methods of reflective thinking and then appointed to high ranking

governmental positions. That was 2000 years ago, and the constitution among

other things would not allow that sort of government today. King is proposing

that all teachers educate all the students with the higher form of thinking. She

theorizes that everyone is going to have some sort of position in life where

reflective thinking would benefit. If Plato were around today, he would more

than likely side with King. Both writers stress the vital role that the

authority figure plays in the subject?s and student?s lives. The reflective

thinkers are the people who are needed to educate society. The times have

defiantly changed, but the need for the higher forms of thinking amongst society

has not.


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