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Q: The Media - A Contemporisation of the Allegory of the Cave in Plato's Republic ( No Answer,   3 Comments )
Subject: The Media - A Contemporisation of the Allegory of the Cave in Plato's Republic
Category: Relationships and Society
Asked by: noazy-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 15 Mar 2006 18:44 PST
Expires: 14 Apr 2006 19:44 PDT
Question ID: 707785
Hi, I am a journalist reading Plato's Republic and would like to know
if "The Allegory of the Cave"is a metaphor for today's media?
IS there the same distinction in the media between appearance and
reality as Plato draws on here? If so, can people (today) even tell
the difference!? Does it matter? I would say that yes, it does- as a
key element of our journalistic code of  ethics is  to truth,
obectivity and accountability.
What is Plato trying to say about deception and manipulation??

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 17 Mar 2006 05:12 PST
There's a pretty good overview of the allegory of the cave at Wikipedia:'s_allegory_of_the_cave

and they put it in socio-political terms that I think will assist you
in your attempt at relating The Cave to today's media.

For a much more directed look at media, from a modern philosopher, I
recommend Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent":

Let me know what you think,

There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: The Media - A Contemporisation of the Allegory of the Cave in Plato's Republ
From: irlandes-ga on 16 Mar 2006 16:44 PST
My view of Plato was completely different. From time immemorial (not
sure if that word exists) the human race has been divided between what
we today label as liberal and conservative.  Plato was definitely a
liberal, and I felt his Caves was based on his belief along with
liberals in general that there is no objective truth at all, ever.

We conservatives on the other hand tend (IMO) to believe there is
objective truth and we must work at finding that truth, as hard as it
might be.

Who is right? As a conservative, I think we are, and the liberals
think they are. Heh, heh. I think it is how our brains are wired and
neither of us can help ourselves.

My view of objective truth is that some things are verifiable by
looking at human history over very long periods of time, and in
different cultures, and seeing what tended to work best.  I would have
loved to ask Plato if pain is like the shadows, and smashed his finger
with a hammer then tell him it's just his shadow messing him up.
Hammer + finger equals pain, and that's a verifiable fact over history
in all cultures, period.

For example, (this is an example, not a rant on the family) over all
of history, and in many different cultures, generally the two parent
family made for happiest and safest kids. That doesn't mean all two
parents families were ideal, my family sure wasn't. Nor does it mean
we should kill anyone who doesn't fit that profile.

It means that overall performance is better on a societal level with
the two parent family, than with street orphans or orphanages (I do
not agree with Newt Gingrich on this.) For example, though the
journalists don't seem to be able to find any data, boys from one
parent families are much more likely to end up in prison, without
regard to family income levels.  (In 1985, it was a seven to one
ratio.  How can you guys not see a seven to one ratio?????)  Yet, some
people, with no real data to back it up claim any sort of family is
the same as any other, based on theory, and that any differences in
performance could be eliminated if only those bums would send more
money in the mail.

I took Caves to mean not that there is deceit and manipulation, but he
believed that all observation is strictly personal and there is no
repeatable truth, just what you as an individual happen to see from
where you are. Of course, when someone believes there is no verfiable
truth, it is by definition easy to mislead them.

I lost all respect for Plato once I realized his Republic advocated
Poi Pot type extermination of anyone who didn't fit his thoughts on a
citizen's ideal characteristics.
Subject: Re: The Media - A Contemporisation of the Allegory of the Cave in Plato's Republic
From: amber00-ga on 17 Mar 2006 04:49 PST
I can't endorse irlandes-ga's unorthodox reading. 
The cave is the world of everyday appearances where people are
deceived by illusions. But the philosopher who escapes from the cave
learns to see things as they are. Hence there is objective reality.
Eventually he even looks at the sun. In Plato's allegory, the world
outside the cave is the realm of the Forms and the sun stands for the
Form of the Good, which dominates the others and gives them truth and
reality. The world of everyday appearances is a confused reflection of
the world of Forms.
Subject: Re: The Media - A Contemporisation of the Allegory of the Cave in Plato's Republic
From: ebeach-ga on 22 Mar 2006 12:46 PST
I'm afraid I also disagree with irlandes' reading of Plato.  In fact,
I would say that the opposite is true - all Socratic thought it built
upon the idea that there is one objective truth.  The idea that there
is no objective truth to be found in reality would be more in line
with Eastern thinking like Buddhism.  Even then I'm not sure a
Buddhist would say that there is no objective truth, just that it
doesn't matter whether there is or not because it will not affect our
day to day decision making.

Also, the example that he gave of families would be fine if it were
clear that family structure were the cause of the problems outlined. 
Unfortunately, it is impossible to know for sure whether that is true
or if family structure is one more effect of larger issues that also
happen to be related to crime statistics.  This is not to say that
there is not one objective truth about the structure of families, just
that that truth is obscured beyond our ability to know for sure by the
number of variables involved.

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