Philosophy Final Study Guide
The Divided Line -
Imagination, belief, thought
(image of the forms – still looking at
material objects to see Forms),
(having perfect knowledge because you
know the forms without relying on hypotheses or unproven assumptions) Science is
always changing, etc.
The lowest grade of cognitive activity is imagination. A person in the state of
imagination considers images and reflections the most real things in the world.
The next stage on the line is belief. Belief also looks toward the realm of the
visible, but it makes contact with real things. A person in the stage of belief thinks
that sensible particulars are the most real thing in the world.
Thought: Deals in Forms, it uses sensible particulars as images to aid in its
reasoning, relies on hypotheses or unproven assumptions.
Understanding: Uses neither of these crutches. Understanding is a purely
abstract science. The reasoning involved deals exclusively with Forms, working
with an un-hypothetical first principle, which is the Form of the Good. To reach
understanding, an individual using the crutches necessary to thought works his
way up with philosophical dialectic toward the Form of the Good. Once you reach
the Form of the Good, you have hit on your first principle, a universal proposition
which makes all unproven hypotheses unnecessary. You now understand the
Form of the Good, and all the other Forms as well. In a flash, you have reached
the highest stage of knowledge.
Allegory of the Cave
- People have been in the cave all of their lives; have fetters
(blinders) over their eyes. There is a wall with fire behind and above it. Behind the wall
are people carrying statues, creating shadows (who receive voices from the people)
A man is unchained, fire blinds his eyes when he sees the people holding the
statues, etc. He’s then unwillingly dragged to the outside world; blinded initially,
but soon sees shadows, then flowers, animals, etc., then the sun (the source of
life and light)
represents the visible, material world.
represent ignorance, ties to material things, and lack of education
Statues and shadows
represent material objects
(contests and prizes, etc.)
Outside represents the Realm of the Forms,
outside objects represent
the Forms. i.e. The sun = the Good
Plato says that the man would stay outside among the Forms, even under poor
If the man would return to the cave, he would face ridicule, stumbling along as he
walks; he would look crazy, and people would think that his story was