Plato -- Meno/Allegory of the Term Paper

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Butler agrees that a person has to find his or her own state of goodness (32). To go along with what society agrees with or counts as good doesn't mean anything to Plato; majority has opinion but not knowledge. To begin, Goodness itself is related to the Form of the Good. The Form, in a Socratic sense, is what we rely on to categorize the variety of examples of Goodness. This can be understood in terms of judging a recipe contest. If someone were to win a prize for a green bean casserole, another wins a prize for a chocolate cake, and another wins a prize for their barbecue chicken, what do these things have in common? They all won prizes at the same recipe contest, and they were all categorized as good. but, what is good? How do we judge good? The fact that they are all categorized as good is really their only connection. Plato would argue that since there isn't anything in the visual appearance of all these items that connect each other, it is the mind that recognizes these things as all Good. Plato argues that is it impossible to see Goodness. We cannot see it at all. We may see things that are Good, but we cannot see Goodness.

Although Plato's concept is hard to grasp, what he is really saying is that, in fact, the way we see things is more real than the actual objects. This means that, considering the recipe contest again, the green bean casserole, cake, and chicken are less real than the way in which we categorize them (Forms). Plato claims that the forms are actual things -- objects; the form of Goodness (or "cakeness" or "green bean casseroleness") is more real than the actual object.

When thinking about the Republic, Plato definitely gives the real objects in our lives less importance or value in relation to the Forms. Forms exist but they cannot be seen or smelled or touched. Plato argues that Forms are perfect, unchanging models; while actual objects that we can see have many different characteristics to them, Forms are simple: they cannot be misunderstood by the people who grasp them. A Form can never change. A person can change; they can grow old and lose their youth and beauty, but the Form will never change. In this sense, Form is the real object.

If we are to think about Form in our society today, we could think about desires. Many individuals have the desire to be wealthy. What makes a person wealthy would depend on the Form which the person believed in. For one person, a Porsche and a mansion would make them wealthy; for another, it would be a boat and a swimming pool. These are just objects, but what is real is the Form -- wealth. Eyres (2009) claims that democracy has evolved from oligarchy and the oligarchs at the top that already have wealth keep desiring more wealth. Eyres purports that people can become addicted to these Forms -- the desires and the appetite for more wealth. This desire isn't usually specific to the object, it is about the idea of more of the Form and whatever that Form means to that person.

Plato said, "the likely outcome of excessive freedom is only slavery in the individual and in the society" (Eyres 22). Plato was a critic of democracy as a system of the majority rule because, again, he believed that the majority rule was about opinions and not knowledge and that it excluded the opinion of the people who were not in the majority. Therefore, someone's life can be completely altered because of a majority opinion. Plato adamantly believed that people have to find their own self-knowledge or the majority will make decisions for you. Plato argued that an individual has to own his or her own life or everyone else will own a piece of everyone else.

Plato's theories of democracies challenge our contemporary culture (Williamson 39) especially in regards to the long-standing tradition of rhetoric and how politicians use rhetoric to persuade the majority during elections. The key characteristic of Attic oratory is the appeal to the historical example as a way of winning over an audience. The chief purpose for Attic oratory, therefore, was to persuade people.[continue]

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