If there was one famous person from the past that I could have a conversation with it would be Plato. Plato started the first University in the world. It was called The Academy, named for Akademos, a legendary hero in Greek mythology.The Academy was opened in 387 BC. Before the academy, learning was just an emergent property of living life. The Academy stayed open until 529 AD, lasting longer than any other University or school built after it, almost 920 years. Plato opened the minds of many people with his philosophical views and continues to do so today. The most influential teachings of Plato were from The Republic. The main character in The Republic is Socrates, Plato’s teacher and friend. Socrates is known as the “founder” of Western Philosophy. Plato told a story in The Republic about “The allegory of the Cave”. This story is probably Plato’s best known work. The story reveals a cave which holds a great deal of symbolism. In the cave are prisoners, who are chained and forced to face a wall. These prisoners have been in the cave since birth. Behind the chained prisoners is a walkway, where people walk back and forth carrying objects. Behind the walkway is a fire, which is constantly lit. When the individuals carrying the objects walk across the walkway, the objects they carry cast shadows on the wall. The prisoners believe that the shadows are real objects and real people. The story gets interesting when Plato suggests that one of the prisoners breaks free of the chains and escapes to the outside world. As the prisoner walks past the fire and the walkway there is a cruel realization of a life long lie. The prisoner continues to walk until he reaches the world outside the cave. The prisoner is now acquainted with the “real” sun and even “real” objects and people. The prisoner knows that if he goes back to the cave and he tells the other prisoners about his experience they will never believe him. This story is a learning tool that shows us how disillusioned we can become sometimes. We get so caught up in watching the shadows on the wall in front of us that we never actually leave the cave. (Examples: Fox News,No Child Left Behind, Outsourcing, Myanmar government, Berlin Wall, Health Care). This story means a lot to me and I can only imagine what speaking with Plato would have been like. I would have so many questions to ask him. Plato, although long deceased, gives me great knowledge and serves as a role model to me. Here is Plato and Socrates hanging out. Give me your thoughts or questions I left a lot out for sake of time...
June 10, 2008