Sample Literature Essay Paper on Theoretical Perspective of Perception and Ideology

Part 1.

‘The Allegory of the Cave’ is a philosophical or a mythical reflection of Plato’s intermeshed understanding of a variety of political, ethical, metaphysical, as well as epistemological perceptions. The human culture is always known to feature a variety of notions or perceptions that are not driven by fact but an extrapolation of what individuals identify as a reality. 

Q1.  What does a flatlander see?  What do the people in the cave see? How are they “Trapped within the borders of their vision”?

Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’ presupposes a group of individuals who were been bound by chains in a cave since their childhood. These individuals were strategically bound in a manner that they are not able to look to their sides or even behind them. They could only look straight ahead at a wall in the cave. To the back of the prisoners was a fire and in between the prisoners and the fire was a partial wall. The partial wall was used to suspend figurines that cast a shadow on the cave wall ahead of the prisoners. The prisoners, in this case, could only see the shadows and created a perception of the environment around them from what they saw. In a similar manner, flatlanders were bound to their two-dimensional world. The flatlanders and prisoners have been bound in their position to only see their world as they have been perceived and not as placed in reality. Ideologies and perceptions are the limits that have seen both parties ignorant of their surroundings.       

Source: retrieved from; https://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/cave.htm

2. How does position (perception) limit our understanding?  In what ways are we ideological flatlanders or people in a cave?

Considering that the prisoners are unable to turn, they perceive the shadows as ‘reality’; consequently, in every way, they believe that the truth is nothing other than the shadows of the objects. From an outsider’s view, it is clear that from their position the prisoners have been compelled to believe that the figurines are alive from the flicker or the flame and movement of the shadows. These two factors limit their understanding of reality. In a similar manner, the human or social understanding is hidden from the truth due to the position, in this case, knowledge. Plato’s allegory of the cave is a parable to understand the process of how an individual or a society becomes enlightened. It is inclusive of the positive and the negative influences of ‘natural environment’. In other words, the myth is placed to highlight responses and reactions of a person or a society being freed from their bounds; subsequently, being forced to experience life outside the ‘cave’. 

3. How does our perception/understanding create ideology?

            ‘The allegory of the cave’ is a theory, which is centered on human perception and ideology that can be changed by knowledge. The myth revolves around the truth and a reflection of the truth. Plato stated that knowledge attained from the senses (perception) is no more than opinion. Consequently, the only way to have real knowledge the society has to go through philosophical reasoning.

Part 2.

Politics, religion, morality or ethics, as well as science, are the four major pillars that hold the society together. Despite a difference in race, gender, age, or ethnicity, people from different regions globally are brought together or in this case bound by pre-construed ideologies. Nonetheless, as explained by Nealon and Susan in a sense ideology is defined as ‘false consciousness’ or In other words, “this is the inability to see real conditions because they are, asked by false ideas” (93). The Marxist premise of the nineteenth century states that in its first definition an ideology is false or misleading, murky, vague, metaphysical representation of concrete conditions and specific causes (94). When considering such information there is evidence that firstly an ideology is manifested from a concerted argument; however, the legitimacy of the knowledge presented is put to the test by the ideology. Therefor inventions and inventions may not come to fruition due to ideologies. In this part of the article, three examples of how ideology affects new philosophies will be identified and explained.

Religious societies believe that a supreme being ‘God’ made the world; additionally, man is God’s creation. On the other hand, scientists dispute this notion, as they believe in the ‘big bang’ and evolutionary theories to explain the beginning of life and Earth. After years of discussions, none of the two mentioned groups accept each other premise. The example above represent one way ideologies affect new ways of viewing the world. The parties involved in the discussion between creation and evolution view life in a particular limiting their thinking in the process. In Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott the characters were somewhat in a similar situation.  When the sphere confronts the square, the latter refuses to accept that there is another world superior to his. The square has for all his life known of a two-dimensional world and the reality of the third dimension does not exist. Religious and scientific societies dispute each other philosophies, in the process, they are always set to either find new critics against each other or improve their own theories. In the process, they turn a blind eye to other philosophies that may be more conclusive or encompassing to both factions. 

            Other than rigidity in reasoning, ideologies tend to compel individuals against acceptance even when the reasons to change their mind is clear. The square in flat land interacts with the sphere and from this point, it is clear that there exists a third-dimensional world. However, he refuses what is in front of him. In order to make the square see reality for what it is the sphere pushes him to the third dimension world; however, even in this state, he states “I looked down below, and with my physical eye all that domestic individuality which I had hitherto merely inferred with the understanding” (Section 18.35). He sees a differentiation from flatland, however, he has a hard time to accept reality for what it is he instead creates a new reality from his two dimension ideology by stating an unspeakable horror seized me” (Section 16.26-18.1). Ideologies make it hard for individuals to accept realities as they are but give rise to individuals or societies forming new ideologies that are related to what they believed in the start. This is seen in day-to-day political lives where the ideologies that prevail have a significant weakness; however, they remain existent. Plato’s ideal society contains the correct functions of politics as well as motives, nonetheless, for as long as the prisoners accept what they are told or led to assume, they will follow believe in the shadows on the wall of the cave and not the objects behind them.

Works Cited

Abbott, Edwin A. Flatland: A romance of many dimensions. OUP Oxford, 2006.

Nealon, Jeffrey T, and Susan S. Giroux. The Theory Toolbox: Critical Concepts for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2012. Print.

Plato. Allegory of the Cave. S.l.: Lulu Com, 2017. Print.