Myth of Er - Wikipedia
The Allegory of the Cave, or Plato's Cave, was presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his All three are characterized in relation to dialectic at the end of Books VII and VIII (d–e). .. Allegory of the Cave · Dimitra Mitta: Reading Platonic Myths from a Ritualistic Point of View: Gyges' Ring and the Cave Allegory. T. G. ROSENMEYER: Platonic Scholarship, , II. F. The Dialogues: F J. R. Sepich, "Notas historico-exegeticas sobre el. Parmenides de .. ( ) on the relation of commensurability II mito di Er (): text, with intr. and comm. - F31C: . platonismo e il mito solare nel vi della Po/iteia,". Giorn. di. Aion Annali dell'Istituto Universitario e del Mediterraneo antico, Napoli: Istituto Universitario Orientale. II: La citazione della sezione astronomica del mito di Er (Exp. , 19 , 2 = Resp. .. Dombrowski, Daniel A., A platonic philosophy of religion: a process Relation, logos, intuition, Paris, L'Harmattan, , 81 p.
Thus the purpose of the myth of Er at the dialogue's conclusion is a bit perplexing. Why might Plato turn to a myth of judgment of souls, so soon after criticizing the imperfections of poetry?
I would like to suggest that Plato uses myth at the conclusion of the Republic in order to carve out space for political freedom and responsibility for human freedom in the ordinary polis. And yet the characters of the Republic live in a city with pressing and concrete political problems. The city in which Socrates and his friends live is an imperfect city, struggling with revolution, faction, and imminent civil war.
Their conversation is set dramatically in the midst of the burgeoning conflict between democrats and oligarchs.
Many of them will suffer life and death consequences as a result of Athenian conflict. Plato's own audience would immediately have recognized Polemarchus as a victim of that civil strife, as the historical Polemarchus was brutally killed without trial when the Thirty Tyrants come to power. Socrates' own trial and death seems to have stemmed at least in part from his willingness to associate with ruthless oligarchs such as Critias and Charmides, as much as democrats.
I suggest that Plato's myth of Er is intended as a reflection upon moral choice for those who reside in the ordinary and imperfect city, and not the ideal one. Its emphasis on a degree of personal freedom in the midst of disorder can be understood as a political claim about the place of individual choice in a world that is constrained by both political and cosmic "necessity".
My paper will proceed in two parts: First, I will summarize Socrates' criticisms of poetry and suggest that these criticisms might well apply back to the ideal polis of the Republic.
Socrates quietly points out limits in their own previous discussion, in an effort to restore the "real city" of Athens to their horizon of inquiry. Second, I offer an interpretation of the myth of Er as a political myth that grounds freedom within a cosmic and political framework that sets limits on human action. I conclude with a reflection upon Odysseus's choice in the myth and how his choice is reflective of a Socratic embodiment of autonomy and freedom within the constraints of cosmic and political necessity.
I Socrates' criticisms of poetry in book X are primarily epistemological, but result in profound political implications. Poetry lacks "knowledge" of its subject matter. While the poet might be inspired, or might even accidentally say things that are true, even great poets such as Homer do not possess definite knowledge of what they describe. There is evidence for this claim, Socrates says. Socrates says that when it comes to the craft of a couch, there are three types of creation that are possible: Socrates returns to the ontology that he had previously set out in the middle books, a division between forms and ordinary material things, but now additionally suggests that there are not only forms of moral or aesthetic goods beauty, justice, and so onbut also forms of everyday objects.
The painter only imitates, but does not create. The painter does not imitate the truth, or the being of anything, but only imitates the look of something. For he lacks the knowledge of how to make the real object; if one were to ask a painter to make a couch, he will be unable to do so, qua painter, even if he is a master of imitation and can make a realistic looking painting.
Thus, the painter's limit is not only epistemological, but also a creative limit. He cannot bring into being couches in the same way that a craftsmen does. One naturally might object that the painter, of course, never intended to do so. A painter wishes to express something about his or her subject matter, and the manner of the construction of a "real" couch is incidental to that larger aesthetic meaning.
Indeed, the Republic itself includes an image of a kind of couch: Cephalus is first describes as seated on a "cushioned stool" in a courtyard in which a number of such stools are arranged in a circle c. No doubt Plato as author is not any more capable of constructing such seating than any other non-specialist, but his inclusion of seating in Socrates' description lends information to us.
For example, the cushioned stool implies that Cephalus is wealthy enough to afford such luxuries, not only for himself but also for his friends. We know that the participants in the conversation are seated in a circle in which all can see and hear one another equally. Socrates does not offer a whole scale rejection of all poetry.
Rather, he goes on to connect poetry's tendency toward "removedness" from the truth to knowledge claims. While we know that there is no human being who is a master of all crafts, and of all knowledge associated with all crafts, some poets seem to make knowledge claims that range over many realms of expertise.
Poets such as Homer attempt to imitate many things: Moreover, these poets implicitly make moral claims about the thoughts, words, and actions of the characters whom they portray. They even represent the gods and attribute to the gods a variety of words and actions. The force with which they can convey their ideas may dazzle the audience who listens, for they bring an aesthetic power to their imitations. Instead of different colors of paint, the "colors" of the poet are rhythm, meter, and harmony, which make beautiful the things that he describes a.
The strongest evidence of this is that a poet who really knew of all these things should be able to act in a way that demonstrates such knowledge, Socrates argues. But we have no evidence that Homer, Thales, or Anacharsis could govern a city, help to write its laws, win wars, educate, or even make shoes, although he can describe them being made ca.
This imitator not only lacks knowledge, but even lacks right opinion, because he has no one who does know to guide him in his artistry. In this manner, Socrates dethrones the poet. Socrates' arguments perhaps culminate in his famous words that there is a great "quarrel between philosophy and poetry" b.
One might be tempted to place the words of the philosopher in the realm of the one who knows truths according to their form, and does not imitate them, and so "solve" the problem of philosophy and poetry.
On this reading, the poet merely imitates, while the philosopher knows. However, this is an oversimplification, because of course, we also must note the imitative imagery that Socrates has used throughout this dialogue, both in narrating the dialogue's actions and in drawing comparisons between abstract ideas such as the form of the good and ordinary natural objects or artifacts such as the sun, or proportionally divided lines.
Moreover, we might ask, why do philosophy and poetry "quarrel" at all? Another way of asking this question is to ask, for Plato, is there a distinctively philosophical language that can be entirely separated from poetry?
Or is philosophical language itself at least sometimes also poetic and imitative, like the painter's imitation of the couch? I would suggest that the philosophical language of the Republic is poetic, but that Plato seeks to develop a specifically philosophical form of poetry that sets itself apart from much of tragic poetry.
- Allegory of the Cave
- Plato's Republic
Platonic imagery is set out in such a way that it encourages and even entices its audience into self-reflection and critical distance from our dearly held beliefs ideas in ways that tragic poetry might not. In the case of the Republic, such reflections on poetry ought also to lead the Republic's readers to question the limits as well as to note the strengths of the images of a city proposed in the dialogue.
The various cities in speech, from the first simple city that Socrates proposes in book II, to a feverish city that eventually is purged, and onward to an ideal polis and its various degenerative relations in book VIII, are themselves poetic constructions. In the Republic as a whole, Socrates' images are not distinct in the kind of language that they use: Compare Homer's description in the Odyssey of the sacrifice of a bull to a real sacrifice, and then Socrates' description of the sun as an image for the form of the good.
Which image is clearer? Which gives us a better and more precise sense of the original that is being imitated?
Arguably, the Homeric image is more accessible and precise. However, Socrates' concern is neither with precision nor accessibility alone, but rather with the moral and political force of poetry. Socrates' concern with poetry is not whether poets describe a craft such as shoemaking in exact terms, so that a listener can then know the proper way to make shoes.
Instead, he objects to Homer's being revered as the educator of his time, as a moral and political authority who is not to be questioned or criticized. Socrates argues that tragic poetry chooses imagery that arouses the "lower" parts of our souls rather than the rational part. The tragic poet, by awakening the emotions and appetites in the soul also debilitates the upper part of the soul, weakening reason and calculation. Socrates' images might also awaken the not only the rational part of the soul, but also the thumotic and perhaps even appetitive.
However, such images do so in a way that intends to be in accordance with rational aims. Indeed, such philosophical poetry seems to be necessary in the case of highest goods such as the forms, for Socrates presents complete rational knowledge of the good as a regulative ideal rather than a current reality, at least in his own case.
Socrates' treatment of the philosophical mode is more of a stance rather than an accomplishment. In the middle, most overtly metaphysical sections of the Republic, Socrates emphasizes that he lacks knowledge and may be "blind" or "crooked" in what he can offer ca. Socrates insists that he has opinions about these things, but not knowledge. Still, he affirms the existence of the forms, even if his knowledge of them is incomplete.
His stance is to seek the truth, to be oriented to a good outside himself, and to be willing to be transformed by the forms, and by his conversations with others McCoy Socrates' poetry is set apart from other kinds of poetry, insofar as his poetry explicitly promotes a philosophical stance. His poetic images point his audience not only towards the forms but also to a basic stance of questioning and inquiry. Socrates does not first work out philosophical content in some image free language, and then later, use images to communicate that knowledge.
Rather, it seems that poetic images and Socratic questioning are both ways of engaging the friends with whom Socrates speaks, and pointing them beyond the image to the reality of the forms and also to the continued questions that can be asked about them.
My suggestion here is that Socrates uses myth in a way that encourages critical reflection rather than discouraging it.
Philosophical poetry as used by Socrates in the dialogue does not overcome the problems of tragic poetry by displaying omniscience of the whole, or image-free knowledge. Instead, I suggest that Socrates' philosophical poetry incorporates its own limits within it. That is, Socrates uses philosophical imagery to point to realities that he admits to being somewhat perplexing. These images do not eliminate questions, but instead continue to deepen our questions further. Philosophical poetry attempts to awaken the best part of the soul rather than the worst, not by claiming that its author is fully wise or accomplished, but rather by orienting us to critical reflection and questioning of realities, such as the forms, whose reality is not exhausted by our inevitably incomplete accounts of them.
Myth of Er
As Roochnik has observed, there are numerous places in the book of the Republic where the action of the Republic seems to include actions forbidden in the perfect city in speech. In the perfect city, there are to be no portrayals of unjust men, or any mention of unjust acts by the gods.
Thrasymachus is not only the image of an unjust man, but indeed offers a rather sophisticated defense of taking up a life of injustice. In the perfect city in speech, the practice of philosophy by those who have not yet gone through a rigorous program of mathematics is forbidden. Then, in the order in which their lottery tokens were chosen, each soul was required to come forward to choose his or her next life.
Er recalled the first one to choose a new life: Upon further inspection he realized that, among other atrocities, he was destined to eat his own children.
Er observed that this was often the case of those who had been through the path in the sky, whereas those who had been punished often chose a better life. Many preferred a life different from their previous experience.
Animals chose human lives while humans often chose the apparently easier lives of animals. After this, each soul was assigned a guardian spirit to help him or her through their life.
Freedom and Responsibility in the Myth of Er | McCoy | Ideas y Valores
Each soul was required to drink some of the water, in varying quantities; again, Er only watched. As they drank, each soul forgot everything. As they lay down at night to sleep each soul was lifted up into the night in various directions for rebirth, completing their journey.
Er remembered nothing of the journey back to his body. He opened his eyes to find himself lying on the funeral pyre early in the morning, able to recall his journey through the afterlife.
Plato tells Glaucon the "Myth of Er" to explain that the choices we make and the character we develop will have consequences after death. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually, he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself a. Plato concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave a.
The cave represents the superficial world for the prisoners. The chains that prevent the prisoners from leaving the cave represent ignorance, meaning the chains are stopping them from learning the truth.
The shadows that cast on the walls of the cave represent the superficial truth, which is an illusion that the prisoners see in the cave. The freed prisoner represents those in society who see the physical world for the illusion that it is.
The sun that is glaring the eyes of the prisoners represents the real truth of the actual world. Only knowledge of the Forms constitutes real knowledge or what Socrates considers "the good".