Social Question

AustieZ's avatar

Plato's Cave and Modern Media?

Asked by AustieZ (363points) May 20th, 2010

I recently wrote a paper drawing comparisons between the Allegory of the Cave in Plato’s Republic to the effects of Modern Mass Media on Society. Fully acknowledging that Fluther is indeed a part of the iCave, what are your opinions?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Can you tell us how you drew this parallel? The iCave is an interesting concept (whose?), but I’d like to understand its platonic aspect in your formulation before offering a comment.

ETpro's avatar

I second Jeruba in wanting to hear how you drew your parallels, but I will offer this much from my own understand of Plato’s Cave allegory. His story served as an illustration of his Theory of Forms, and I do not accept that theory. To me, the forms a philosopher devices are no more valid than everyday reality. In fact, where they conflict with observable phenomena in reality, reality is right, and the philosopher is simply wrong.

AustieZ's avatar

I can’t take credit for the iCave term, but my concept of it is a bit different. I will exploit the term fully, however. The parallel that I draw is this: Media today often, whether intentionally or not, skews its presentation, and subsequently the public’s interpretation, of reality, in much the same way that the prisoners reality is manipulated in the cave. I would even go so far as to say that once a given person looks beyond what mass media says to what really is, that person may often be ridiculed in the same way an enlightened prisoner returning to the cave would be.

Now, thanks to the internet, this can happen at an unprecedented rate, and we all may become each others shadow puppeteers, with all the blogs, networking sites, and the like (such as Fluther) acting as our own iCaves.

Say I ask a question, here on fluther. Not knowing the answer, and operating with a trust in the truth of an answer i am provided (as many do), the answer presented to me would certainly be correct in my view, regardless of whether or not it actually is, and if someone where to argue against it, of course I would hold fast to my own comfortable reality, as opposed to a presented reality. A prisoner, in an iCave.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I remember some parts of The Republic better than others, so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of my answer here.

It’s my understanding that the average person is captive in the cave seeing only shadows cast on the wall by others controlling the light. The captives believe the shadows to be real, and know nothing about their manipulation.

I don’t remember how enlightened the light controllers were, but I do remember that they fully utilized their power to shape the beliefs of the captives.

It’s definitely stuck in my memory that Plato wrote that a few people would choose to leave the cave altogether and experience reality. They began by viewing the sun in a pool of water, and finally lifted their heads to see the glowing reality of truth.

A few of these took their knowledge back to the cave to teach others.

I can see that parallels can be made with the media and the cave. It might appear that the average person is content to believe what they view and read from the media, but I would contend there is a larger portion of the populace who have a healthy attitude about the veracity of much of what they hear, see, and read. More than the percentage of humanity represented in Plato’s story of the cave.

It’s my opinion that more people these days will act with more forethought and conscious choice than those of previous eras. We are better educated. Not all people will do so, but there are more that do.

Kraigmo's avatar

You have made an interesting and appropriate comparison.

This is why during the height of the Iraq War, ⅔ of most Americans still thought Iraq had attacked the United States at one point. There most definitely was a conspiracy of silence amongst Fox, MSNBC, CNN, and the networks. Until MSNBC and Reuters years later, became the first entities to actually reveal the truth about the war from within the Administration, instead of its talking points; it was groundbreaking when MSNBC and Reuters actually published hard news critical of the Iraq War’s conception and handling.

The difference between the Cave and the situation we have here though…. is that Americans have access to truth and information on the internet, amongst a lot of other things. Reality is being offered to them, but they often passively or actively reject it.

dynamic3's avatar

@Kraigmo “The difference between the Cave and the situation we have here though…. is that Americans have access to truth and information on the internet, amongst a lot of other things. Reality is being offered to them, but they often passively or actively reject it.”

But surely that’s analagous to the cave because it is not an easy path to leave the cave and the comfort of the shadows that the prisoners are used to. As Plato offers, the light outside is blinding and painful, at first, which is why the sun can only be seen in the pond. Far easier to slink back to the nice warm cuddly shadows.

@AustieZ Fantastic comparison I love it.

AustieZ's avatar

@dynamic3 Thanks mate.

@Jeruba I’m still waiting for your take.

Kraigmo's avatar

@dynamic3 “But surely that’s analagous to the cave because it is not an easy path to leave the cave and the comfort of the shadows that the prisoners are used to. As Plato offers, the light outside is blinding and painful, at first, which is why the sun can only be seen in the pond. Far easier to slink back to the nice warm cuddly shadows.”

Yes I see your point and agree now. It is neatly analogous with the Cave.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther