|Mankind's Unknowing Of Eternal Things|
Sunday, 09 September 2012 00:00Written by Gary C. Gibson
The Cave of Plato is a metaphor for finite knowledge an it's native occlusion. It is an epistemological illustration describing mankind's unknowing about eternal things.
Mankind’s intelligence within a brain and body is an inhabitant of a cell looking outward through the tunnel vision of life's window on the world. It is a criterion of existing on the surface of a world beneath a limitless sky, or in a universe with no known beginning or end even though moderns infer a singularity and postulate in error that nothing existed before something inflated. At the least, something spiritual existed that set the miraculous appearance of matter and energy into scalar field expansion. Viewed from within, a spiritually based material universe might seem material because of the limited ability of the 'prisoners' to step beyond their confinement in protocols of atomic relationships. The quanta have their places according to their energy and that’s that.
One day a particle accelerator may transport one through super-positioning too 'the surface', yet it is more likely that a Cloud of Unknowing' mystical insight would deliver one sooner to the absolute destiny in a spiritual realm beyond all material universes. One's humble appearance before God is set to be before the judge even more powerful than that of the court of the crimson king.
The Cave may be interpreted in several ways yet the most meaningful is probably found in the philosophy of cosmology paradigm. It would take nearly 2000 years for Roger Bacon to make the first tentative topological outline of the Universe, yet the descriptive allegory found in the ancient work functions well in several contexts of infinite, unbounded cosmological paradigms.One mustn't discount too much the political paradigm for the cave. The saying about how one grows mushrooms by keeping them in the dark and feeding them a lot of manure was used to describe the citizens in many polities.
U.S. Congress and Bush administration working with globalists have largely dumped a trillion dollar debt on to the public who really aren't that skilled and globalist banking swindling and are fed information by the broadcast media (the manure politically speaking). The shackled citizens on the floor of the cave see only the shadows of economic derivatives passing overhead and conjecture that the shadows represent the passages of the demi-urges of finance in the world overhead while in reality the swill they are fed about globalism has been an opiate of the broadcast media corporate division subverting their political and economic Independence as it reduces them to the status of Bangladeshis.The people at the top enjoy a bright and prosperous life while the poor and middle class drug in the dungeons of oppressions perhaps chained to the wall like the prisoners of the cave.
The politicians of evil keep their masses in the dark. Maybe Plato wanted to write about the oligarchy's privileged life compared to that of the voting citizens much less the slave class comprising 95% of the Athenian population of his time. If Plato had written (if he had been so disposed towards democracy) that he might have joined Euthyphro and Socrates on the porch of King Archon. Lets move on to the philosophy of cosmology criterion now.Is the Universe like an ever recursive Chinese puzzle box with greater and greater insides and outsides enclosing things? Are all of the forms of matter, shape, substance and sound upon some higher reality? Are the forms in this Universe being obviously transitional, temporary and made of smaller things that are themselves part of a possible monistic biggest, underlying thing (such as a Higgs field) really real? Plato considered many such questions in his Allegory of the Cave in book seven of 'The Republic'.
I personally feel that the neo-Platonist philosopher Plotinus centuries later elaborated the implications of 'The Cave' best within his 54 tractates named The Enneads. Plotinus explained the scheme whereby The One could emanate the forms and Universe. The beautiful portrayal of reality and realism according to Plotinus is a little off topic for this essay, so I will leave that for you to pursue in some book such as 'The Essential Plotinus'.The world and Universe still appears to humanity like the view of shadows the prisoners had from the cave floor. Space-time is uncertain, quantum uncertainty is a veil of unknowable probability that lets wiggle room for everything to be and become leaving the inmates of this Universe philosophical points to wonder about regarding God and directed evolution of the temporal appearance of space-time, mass and energy.
Stephen Hawking once wrote that time has a material and psychological appearance of direction implicitly. I cannot recall if that was because of the general flow of matter to a disorganized from a highly compact organized state or from simplicity in monism to complexity in impoverished energy depleted pluralism of particles undergoing heat death, yet time appears as it does simply because of the memory of past states in the eternal now perceived by the mind. Humans make an analogy of time as having a direction perhaps from the notion of crossing a distance in space-time from point a to point b yet for-themselves they were always where they were for-themselves in the present.
The relationships of thermodynamics to perception and awareness of entropy are interesting as it is the contents of change in mass/energy that provide the objects of conscious thought and sense of time passage, yet the array of space-time may be phenomenal and contingent in an actual sense something meta-Einsteinium yet not neo-Platonist and transcending of the content of the Universe for itself. While knowledge may transcend what the universe appears to be it may be that the Universe doesn't need to transcend itself actually to be what it is.Plato's allegory of the cave is a description of the relationship of reality to perception and knowledge. Humanity sees through a glass darkly, only knowing in part as it were.
The world's forms are imperfect versions of a true more perfect realm that the prisoners chained to the floor of the world/cave can only see as vague shadows moving overhead upon 'the ceiling'.Unlike ZZTop's cowgirls moving upon the ceiling of a hotel room in Memphis of song, the shadows moving upon the ceiling of the cave holding the prisoners bring nothing cheerful to the inmates for life never free to exit their own Bastille and learn about the shadows or the ultimate reality above on the surface of a planet they haven't ever seen nor suspect to exist. Like painters forced out of work by the competition compelled to take job shoveling manure the enchained and epistemologically challenged have a grim past, present and future. Modern cosmology has revealed that the world and universe is something like the Plato's cave regarding a theory of knowledge...from the temporal and Universal point of view we cannot discern for-ourselves the absolute nature of reality, origin of the Universe and so forth. We know only through a glass darkly, in part.
Quantum cosmology includes theories that the Universe popped into being from nothing through quantum tunneling and could disappear in as improbable of a way ('New Theories of Everything'). Theory of knowledge includes researches that human cognition and reason forms a picture in the mind of what reality is a little modified from what it is for itself. Human beings perceive the elements of nature in a particular way because of the composition of what everything is made of. Forms of a macro-quantum nature that change are made of atoms, quarks or superstrings with non-changing basic parts. While evolution or change of atomic or molecular levels of mass and energy may be said to happen in so much as they clump together in different arrangements temporally the underlying field(s) and forces are changeless while additionally matter and energy is neither created nor destroyed since the beginning of the Universe. As the Texan wrote 'God made time so everything doesn't happen all at once'.
Plato's cave expository allegory on reality and metaphysics developed ideas believed to have originated proximally more or less from the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides and continued on through to the neo-Platonist philosopher Plotinus. Its prime philosophical premise today is as the measuring stick or golden rule for the philosophy of realism-in which the things of the world are shadows or forms of perfect originals in a more real realm somewhere in a higher reality. Many versions of the philosophy of realism exist and they have changed over historical time.Today some prefer an existentialist monism and believe that space-time simply flows within loosely pre-determined parameters and that there is no 'real' realm with original forms for things that exist anyplace.
The concepts from the allegory of the cave are of special use in linguistic categorization of language relationships perhaps. The characteristics that define a set can be thought of as original forms and the subsets as copies or imperfect forms when they embody just some elements of a meta-set. Atomic structure and quantum mechanical forms could be thought of as a realm of forms in some ways, yet it seems probable that ultimately a perfect realm of forms should be entirely non-material and of a spiritual essence or Idea-for-Itself. The neo-Platonist philosopher developed that concept and the nature of The One in his book of 54 tractates called 'The Enneads of Plotinus'.Unlike the liberated prisoners of the cave of Plato that eventually were released, shown the nature of the images caused by people with torches walking on a catwalk above yet not visible from below, who later were taken to the surface to discover they couldn't afford a plane ticket to Cleveland because of high fuel prices (just joking about that last part), the people of the world can still only know the truth indirectly, and that through Jesus Christ.
It is interesting that Jesus Christ said that if you have seen Him you have seen God. That may mean that the temporal yet absolute appearance of God as Jesus means that for every aspect of God as he is known for others is the highest reality, even within a temporal context. Chalk another one up to God for being so thoughtful of us inmates of the planet Earth seeking cheap real estate on Mars with a good view.