Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato. These men were seen as Gods, though this writer’s own belief is that there is only one God, but these men were enlightened, or so they came to believe. Plato’s piece “The Myth of the Cave” appears in book VII of The Republic, and in it Socrates’ argument to Glaucon is that life is a mere reflection of the real world. Plato uses pathos and logos to persuade us to look within ourselves for the true meaning of life.
The myth Plato describes is that people can only see what’s in front of them, not that which is unseen. Plato argues that we are a product of our environment; we are like sheep and follow the masses in their wants and needs—until we are enlightened: “Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not a mere reflection of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another, and he will contemplate him as he is” (23). The essence of Plato’s argument is that when we step back and look at our values, we can then respond and maintain these claims of why we are really here, not what others say about what we are doing, or supposed to be doing.
Plato uses his story to force us to question our reality and our experiences: when you look into a mirror you see yourself; or do you? The myth that we are skin deep is a falsehood many would want you to believe. Plato rejects this notion with his sense of values and what the true meaning for us is with his divine knowledge of within. Let me explain, Plato’s comments illustrate to his audience that the slightest thinking of ourselves as more just the shell we live in is enlightenment from within the spirit of are soul: “And when he remembered his old habitation. And the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?” (27). Basically, Plato is claiming when we come out of the darkness that we have valued our whole life and see that there is something greater then ourselves, we then see the world in which we live in differently. The use of pathos is undeniable here, and the way this appeals to the readers’ emotions is inspiring use of pathos.
This notion is further demonstrated by Plato’s uncanny ability to let the reader feel his beliefs (pathos) in his writings by urging us to look at our own belief’s through looking at our inner most self and asking the question, do I believe in something greater than myself? “Do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possesses of them? Would he not say with homer, better to be a poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?” (29) In making this comment, Plato argues that wealth and happiness comes from within, not from external things. This belief comes from the sun or light within one’s self, the serenity one feels when coming to peace with their being just the way they are. Plato describes to the reader with his use of pathos that we do not need outside things to make us what we want to be, the only thing we need is the light of the sun (higher power) and to have faith in that light that it will give us everything we need, not the human desires of our wants.
He goes on to point out that by being in the cave our whole lives we only see want the illusion of what life is, we fail to see what the true meaning really is. Plato confirms in his values and beliefs that life is just a shadow of what is outside of us. This is why he urges us to escape those shadows of the cave to get to the light of the enlightened few: “I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs, for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell which desires, of theirs is very natural, if are allegory may be trusted” (37). Plato supports his point that are wants are not what was intend for us in the beginning by referencing that it is natural for us to want, but it will not bring you to the place you are owe so seeking. Once again, the brilliance of Plato to play with his imagination with how it has us wondering about our own pathos is great!
Another example is the text (logos) Plato use in all of his writings. There is no doubt that he uses his wording in a way to pull the reader in and to evoke a sense of ambivalence to think outside the box of are norm. This assertion of words made this writer think, and to expand on what I thought I knew by probing my own values and beliefs with his words, “Anyone who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as the bodily eye, and he who remembers this when he sees anyone whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh, he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter life, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having tuned from darkness to the day is dazzled by the excess of light” (41). Plato urges us to look at ourselves before casting judgment on others by pointing out are own house must be in order before we can give it away. This is masterful writing in my eyes; the use of words to grab the attention of the reader is unequal to words of today. Plato has framed this in such a way with his words that the reader wants more, and this in return shows his use of the rhetorical approach to capture his targeted audience.
Plato’s “Myth of the Cave” is a classic must read for a person who is looking for more in life and most of all in within his/her own self. Plato’s use of Pathos, his values and beliefs, and his Logos, the emphasis on certain words frames his writing in such a way that there can be no mistaking the deeper meaning; it’s about a spiritual awakening of are soul and a new outlook of are surroundings. I hope I have guided you through this journey of what I saw and felt in his work.