Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why We Don't Know

As little of an expert I consider myself on the principles of the Divided Line,

after grasping what I have come to as a “conclusion” from these principles I will

attempt to apply this to the Platonic view that human knowledge is largely opinion-

based, contextual, and quite frankly flawed. As the concept of the divided line and

the Allegory of the Cave show similarities in my eyes, I shall also incorporate this

visual metaphor in my writing.

Plato, being the thinker that he is, is one of the first we observe to step out of

his own head and put himself in the shoes of God. By this I mean not the “God” of

any religion of sorts, but rather simply an all-knowing being. The conjecture he

makes is that there MUST be things we do not know about our universe. He asks, in

laymen’s terms, “What don’t we know?” There is no answer to this question, as one

cannot simply begin to know, without some form of learning, what one does not

initially know.

The very concept that we meet and see new people every day, and grow as

human beings proves that no one human brain currently encapsulates all the

knowledge of the universe. As a species whose main evolutionary advantage is the

pursuit of learning, we also fall into our knowledge by forgetting that there is always

yet more to learn. The simplicity of the famous Allegory of the Cave paints a picture

of these phenomena perfectly. With individuals lying at various sections of the cave,

one or a few daring individuals may venture upwards to the light above. This is

demonstrated on large-scale scenarios in which we all can admit to learning life

lessons or seeing perspective on difficult situations. A more small-scale view of this

scenario is the everyday pursuit for information, as the old saying goes “you learn

something new every day.”

It is the freethinking nature of Plato, which allows him to theorize the

existence of a continuous plethora of unknown facts, which we have yet to learn as

an earthly life population. This situation is seen on the small-scale basis of an

individual growing from everyday knowledge through experience in life. The key to

learning is removing oneself from core “beliefs” they feel to be unmistakably true.

The more willing and able one is to adjust their background knowledge to cater to

the influx of new thought, the more open-minded one will inevitably become.

As Plato’s simplified map of human knowledge describes, The Divided Line is

ultimately a crude ratio to which we can attribute and categorize everything we

know. The divided line is ultimately a pen and paper version, or way of thinking and

describing, the effects of what we learn from the Allegory of the Cave. Just as there

are different levels of types of thinking in each human brain, the general analysis is

that a 2/3 ratio can describe the “intelligible” to the “visible” knowledge acquired by

each human being. If the increments were to be taken away, one would be left with a

simple line- which represents the all-knowing entity of God or a godlike substance;

which specifically just represents the theory that there is an “everything”. The

“everything” is just anything in the universe, whether we know of it or not- but

Plato’s view is that a God is likely attributed to having this power.

1 comment:

  1. For those who don't know the reference, Plato's Divided Line is an attempt to clarify the implied metaphorical division between the "cave" of shadowy everyday (mis)perception and the alleged higher reality of his transcendent world of Forms (essences, Ideas). The former is what presents itself to sight, sound, touch, hearing, etc. The latter can only be grasped by the mind's eye.

    Is Plato's Form of the Good just another name for God? Good quesion. Seems like he would have said God, not Good, if that's what he intended us to understand.