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Philosophy Concept: Veil of Maya
Concepts and ideologies, such as the "Veil of Maya," have tried to declare the philosophical interpretation of the "reality' of the world. These conceptions are helpful in analyzing the importance of our senses and to assess the belief that whatever we observe is not all reality but there is something beyond that apparent reality. Philosophers like Plato and Aristotle have developed their own theories relating to the reality of the world and which gives us the necessary knowledge to judge our senses as a means to observe the outer world. Plato has defined the objective world as an illusion and relates to objective appearances, which we call objects, things etc., as illusionary objects. His classical example of slaves staring at shadows can best define his conception of objects and things. According to him, the real world objects that we term as things or physical body are nothing more than shadows and those who limit their perception to these "shadows" are separating themselves from reality. Hence, Plato's philosophy of real world implies that whatever we experience in our daily lives, through our senses, is in fact an illusion and the reality is something beyond that illusion.
Plato's philosophical doctrine implies that nobody of us actually lives in external reality and even if we did we were unable to understand it. When we are experiencing any situation such as watching a landscape or walking across a road, we are actually assigning the meaning to the external "real" world through our visual cortex. Whatever we see around us is believed to be an illusion, called by the philosophers as the "Veil of Maya."
The conception of Maya, as defined by the metaphysicians, is that whatever we can see, feel, hear sense through our five senses is not the only "reality' of world and that the reality is far beyond what our senses can actually experience. For instance, if one would never observe or experience the happening of any event, he/she will never believe on the existence of it because he/she has never experienced it through his/her five senses. The ideology of "Veil of Maya" implies that the limited level of knowledge gained by us through our five senses, leads us to the misconception that this world, that we can feel and observe, is the only truth, which in fact is not the case. It argues that by removing the Veil of Maya, one can reach to the ultimate truth or can discover "reality." In short, it claims that what we see, feel and believe on is not the end of the world.
While considering the issue as to whether our senses provide us the complete picture of the world or not, one should consider going through the theories and conceptions of the pioneering philosophers, who have explored this avenue. In this regard, the works of Plato and Aristotle are considered to be the basis of the later theories. Our objective here is to define whether reality is ultimately what our senses experience or it is something beyond that. According to Plato, reality exists in the form of two separate worlds, which can also be considered as a two-tiered metaphysics. He argued that any "thing" or "physical object" was some form of individual entity but it can also be defined in terms of a larger group.
To prove his point, Plato presented an interesting analogy of the Sun to as a fictional metaphor of his two-tiered theory. He argued that with respect to the "objects" and "things" around us, a human eye can only see the sight of colors through the light that originates from the sun. In the same way, with respect to the ideas that generate in our mind, a human mind can only reach to the truth by means of the ideas, which emerge from the premier and most intelligent among us who were declared by him as the Good. He then argued that as the sun is a source of light and is necessary for life in the physical world, similarly are the Good or the brightest a source of all scholarly light and are essential for the life in the world of ideas.
He came up with another analogy to affirm his theory. This is a famous metaphor generally known as the allegory of the cave. He assumed a situation in which slaves were chained with their mouths towards the mouth of the cave. They were tied up in such a way that they could not move from their positions and were not even to move their heads. Later a fire was being developed in order to throw their shadows on the wall of the cave before them. With the span of time, they were going to start believing that those shadows were in fact real. These slaves are then going to talk only about the shadows and their vision will be limited to their values and believes for the shadows. He then argued that the physical world is actually in the form of a cave and humans are chained in these caves and cannot move their heads and therefore perceive only shadows and sounds. According to him, those of us who limit their vision of the real world to the objects and materials, which are termed as shadows in this analogy, are in fact the slaves who are tied up in the cave. However, those who look beyond the shadows are released and are encouraged to travel out of the cave. As this person reaches the outside world, he is exposed to the world of realism and thus is exposed to the realm of ideas. This disclosure is pretty confusing for the person in the beginning because the light of the outer world is unfamiliar for him and the light is injuring his eyes. As he gradually becomes accustomed to the light, he comes to know the reality of world and finds out the actual source of light i.e. The sun. In the context of this analogy, one can argue that whatever individuals are exposed to by means of their senses or whatever they experience with the help of their senses, the realism of the world is not limited to that particular exposure or experience. It further implies that our senses have a limited capacity of observing or experiencing "things" or objects. In order to look beyond the obvious "objects," one needs uncover the "Veil of Maya." From the concept of unveiling of "Maya," it can be inferred that our senses are not capable of seeing the world in reality. However, these analogies are not limited to defining the ability of senses to see the "Real" world. They are in fact an illustration of the "Idea of the Good" in the realm. They point towards a continuous process, which is an allegory of education and knowledge. The real lesson of Plato, in these analogies, is that those who can look beyond the "shadows" are the enlightened individuals. He argues there is an ethical obligation for these enlightened individuals to expose the unfortunate people to light and release them from the slavery, who are still unable to look beyond the "shadow."
In Plato's opinion the knowledge of reality that we posses is derived from the perspicacious reasons. He was a disbeliever and has questioned the general perception of reality that a society possesses. Moreover, his idealist approach has led him to define ultimate reality in the context of an imperishable and unchangeable world of ideas. On the other hand, Aristotle was a freethinker who defined the perceptual experiences as the basis of all knowledge of reality. He was a realist and defined reality to be the existence of "physical bodies" and tangible spatio-transient objects of this world. The difference in the ideologies of the…[continue]
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