Reflection of Knowledge by the Greek Philosophers

Plato and Aristotle were the great philosophers of the era whose ideas we can still feel in our day-to-day lives. Their ideas bequeathed us with the thoughts enabling us to achieve great wisdom, deep insight of life and the way to true happiness. Platos greatest and ever lasting work was the dialogue The Republic. It has been deemed as the main prodigy for the future society for perfection expressing the clear thoughts of the theory of knowledge. Plato in The Republic, asks, What is knowledge What is illusion What is reality How do we know What makes a thing, a thing What can we know  He shows us the difference between what we really see and its real form and justifies the knowledge of the form we all try to gain yet at each individual level. His Divided Line and Allegory of Cave extrapolate the same concept of knowledge.

Allegory of Cave by Plato is a philosophical disposition of mans life and the knowledge in his Book Seven of The Republic and illustrates the degrees in which our nature may be enlightened or unenlightened. (Plato, 276) Divided into two parts, it is a theory of knowledge. As the man moves from darkness to light, it becomes difficult for him to extrapolate and acknowledge the objects in light as he had been deeply confided in darkness but slowly he would gain the reality and love this light in all its variedness. While the man moves towards his destination, he is confounded in the dialectical method enticing the person to analyze and grasp the intricacy of the process upwards. In each step, he is gaining knowledge which is very discrete in itself and yet complementary to each other. As it is not possible for the eyes to turn away from blindness to light and so is the knowledge that can be moved only from the darkness to light by passing through varying degrees of life and can take humans in the realm of the brightest and the best. This aspect Plato has given through the example of dark cave, where men bounded in chains are made to see illusions and visions. They see what they are shown to them. But in the outer world of light, people are able to see and visualize the things themselves. For Plato, human beings are in the domain of both the visible as well as our inner world. This aspect of our life, Plato emphasized in his Divided Line. He says visible world is what we see around, we feel and experience whereas our inner world is a world of our reasoning power and our inner consciousness.

Emphasizing more on the divided line, there always remains an uncertainty in the visible world, whereas the inner world is real and certain with great intellectual parts, thoughts and abstract ideas. These two worlds as Plato suggests are divided from the middle with the lower part of the line constituting the visible world while the upper part constituting the world of intelligence but in both the parts you are gaining some or the other kind of knowledge. In the first half, we develop our opinion and in the second part, we gain results. Yet again each part can be further divided into two. In the visible world, we can enter into the realm of illusion constituting poetry, paintings, reflections etc while on the other hand upper region is a belief when we feel associated with objects around us and gain knowledge about them. While in the world of intelligence, the lower half is reason, whereby you gain knowledge about various substances and aspects like Mathematics and other half is intelligence, where by you gain the knowledge of the high order and understanding of the good. Both the Allegory of Cave and the Divided Line conform to the Platos idea of the knowledge and the mans natural aptitude for it.

Aristotle too says the same thing but his thoughts are the slight variation to the thoughts of Plato when he says the inner world that constitutes the intellectual half has no relevance unless it is filled with knowledge. To rationalize something means to attain the knowledge of whatever you are concerned with as he explains, the aspect of the soul that is not actively any of the things that until it thinks (Aristotle, 139) For Aristotle, the soul is divided into two kinds of intellect as he says one sort is intellect by becoming all things, the other sort by forming all thingsand without this nothing thinks. (Aristotle, 142) In other words, Aristotle opines that one half of the intellectual soul can be called as a bank where the knowledge gets accumulated whereas other part acts upon this knowledge. The soul is not only your knowledge bank but also gives practical shape to it by stimulating the active intellect of your knowledge and potentiality.

The main function of the two intellects becomes much clearer if we consider it as way of perception. For e.g. suppose we perceive a book, we will sure to be affected by it but if this perception takes place in mind, we are being added with the new knowledge and new qualities of perception which makes our intellectual soul itself a book and this process is known as the active intellect. It means we have gained into our intellectual soul many aspects of knowledge of the book. Overall Aristotle says that the process in the soul that enables us to make our perception of the things we want to make aware of and the various processes that frame the characterization of it as universal are same.

Through their philosophical works both Aristotle and Plato say that knowledge is garnered into the inherent part of the soul through our physical forms and experiences with the same just like the men who are inside the darkest corners of the cave and the same men when they are exposed to light outside. The man that gains knowledge from the outside world gets inscribed in the soul which in turn gets accumulated for the man to use it and again to experience it with its physical world. Both Plato and Aristotle gave the concept of knowledge but just in different ways. Plato divided the intellectual as well as outside world into two halves by having a divided line between the two but having an influence on each other while Aristotle says intellectual soul can only be filled and has importance if knowledge is accumulated in it. By establishing the relationship between the soul and the outer visible world, both instilled in the human beings, the importance of knowledge and the way to garner it to embellish the soul.


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