Escape Your Cave
Wed, Aug 26
Plato was Socrates's most famous student and was deeply influenced by his views of how the love of truth fits in with the good life. In this class session, we will introduce you to Plato's most famous dialogue -- The Republic -- which features Socrates' in his questioning element. We'll read the famous Allegory of the Cave and discuss different views we might have to "converting" others in a philosophical debate. We'll also consider ancient debates about sophistry and relativism, and contemporary versions of some of these same debates.
By the end of class you will:
- Understand how Plato's vision of the truth contrasts with the sophists.
- Be able to compare and contrast the Socratic elenchus to Plato's vision of philosophical conversion in the cave allegory.
- Appreciate how W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr, George Yancy and other philosophers have used the allegory of the cave to articulate ways in which unjust social structures inhibit the truth.
- Debate whether we have moral obligations to "return to the cave" as Plato suggests at the end of the dialogue.
Excerpts from Dusk of Dawn (WEB DuBois)
"Escape the Echo Chamber" C. Thi Nguyen
Complete these steps before you come to class
Consider the following prompts (you may want to write responses to these in your journal or talk about them with a friend):
- What "caves" do you think we are most prone to find ourselves trapped in today?
- What's one concrete thing you've done (or could do) to see whether you're in an "echo chamber" or "bubble"? How could you plot your escape?
Optional: test yourself by taking a practice comprehension check.