Friday, March 11, 2011

Plato's Cave and how I think it may or may not apply to this past Tuesday night class and wow this title is extremely long

This past Tuesday night in Tech 621 one of the topics that we discussed was how the accessibility of knowledge has changed drastically in such a short period of time.  The original way that people were able to gain knowledge was in the physical form and by that I mean books, lots and lots of books.  However, as anyone in today's time knows, that would mean what you could and could not learn would be limited to what books that you had access to.  So to wrap this up in a bind, if the only books that you had access to were coloring books, you may not be able to read to much, and your knowledge on worldly topics would be limited, but you would be hands down the best colorer around (though in the long term I don't think this would pay to much dividends unless you were going to be an artist and even then you would need to be able to read your contracts).

What happens when you're only exposed to coloring books

However, as technology developed (Three Cheers Digital AGE!), including the internet, more transcripts were transferred to an online format, the ability to access a grand archive of works that one may not have been entitled to prior was readily made available.  Kind of like going from having to slave over a stove for hours to make dinner, to being able to fix dinner via T.V. entrees, that is how easy it is to gain information on any topic that an inquisitive mind wanted to inquire about.
Not only is knowledge tasty, but it now comes in eco-friendly trays

During class I had an epiphany that may or may not be a way to describe how big of a change the evolution of technology has been.  It all deals with Plato's old story about the prisoners in the cave story that his teacher, Socrates, told him ( he also told him that whenever you are double dog dared to drink hemlock you have to do it, though he regretted this later in life).  In this story, Socrates described to Plato a scenario where prisoners who were born into a world of bondage (kind of like a Lady Gaga video) and immobilized in a dark cave, were only basically given a marionette show the entire time they were there.
Exactly how Socrates imagined the prisoners

 Instead of knowing these things to be fake, the prisoners would accept everything they heard and saw as the absolute truth since they never knew anything different.  This was their reality.  The next part of this story focuses on what would happen if one of the prisoners were freed and found out that everything they knew was fake and orchestrated and slowly was introduced into the real world, sun, seasons, markets, etc.  Finally, Socrates concluded his allegory by stating to Plato to imagine what it would be like if the prisoner had to go back to the cave and how life would be different for him knowing that everything he was seeing again was fake and not real after being exposed to what is reality, how difficult it would be.

To me this relates to the topic discussed in class because we, as society, are no longer bounded by the "cave" that we once inhabited due to the digital age and the ability to learn anything about everything from online formats because of the rapid access we have of information readily available at our fingertips.  At the same time, what has seemed like a longtime mainstay, the digital age and internet, in reality is still a new and developing technology. I myself can still remember growing up in a world where there was no internet, cell phones, etc.  Where the information and knowledge I was able to achieve was only through books (along with teachers, parents, invisible friends, etc.) which even then was a small library in the grand scheme of things. Needless to say, after being freed from the cave due to technology, that cave, is one I wish not to visit again.


  1. Awesome post! I LOVE how you combine these big, serious ideas with class content, funny illustrations, and your own humor. If it weren't for blogging, I would never get to witness this type of writing, because I don't think it would make its way into a paper...

    I've never laughed before when reading about Socrates! You have an amazing skill to play with ideas.

  2. I eat three hungry mans everyday to help keep me strong. Hey Scott, can I get one of those? Comin right up!