Although both Plato’s allegory of the cave and Descartes’ systematic doubt of external reality offer intriguing bits of knowledge into appearances and reality, they additionally vary from multiple points of view. Plato outlines his view on reality and appearance metaphorically, the image of the cave. Descartes’ systematic doubt of external reality is accomplished by beginning afresh, questioning everything that a person has known previously and backpedaling to the start before they had seen, experienced, or heard anything; hence, questioning everything learned via the senses. Plato’s allegory of the cave has a comparative thought but it is displayed in a very different manner.
In Plato’s allegory of the cave, there are detainees who have been imprisoned in a cave since they were kids. They can just observe what is before them and they trust this to be their lone reality. They can just see shadows since they are unable to move their heads from the position facing the wall (Buckle, 2007). If they were capable of talking with each other, the shadows near them would be what they accept to be true, and would believe any sounds they hear from passers-by or echoes as exuded from these shadows. To them, the truth is nothing but the shadows of the pictures, this is sure to them (Peterson, 2017). In view of Plato, the journey from obliviousness to truth is an extremely troublesome process which includes torment and pain.
The detainee encounters great suffering in being discharged and as he sees what cast the shadows, which makes him understand that everything that he has known before he got out was not reality. His freedom from the cave bestows upon him another reality, which he should now acknowledge to be true. His vision is much clearer now as he turns out to be more acclimated with his new environment. As mentioned by Peterson (2017), Plato’s objective with the cave allegory is to depict what is essential for people to accomplish this true knowledge (enlightenment) and reflective understanding. It is this connection to the total reality, which is past our universe of appearances, which offers wisdom and separates ordinary men from philosophers.
Descartes’ systematic doubt of external reality is an altogether different technique for recognizing appearances and reality. This strategy includes suspending his conviction about completely everything and questioning everything that he had experienced which is like that of the detainee in Plato’s cave. As indicated by Gibson (2016), Descartes attempted to question his own existence; however, he found that the very act of questioning one’s own existence typify their existence. As per Ruddle-Miyamoto (2017), Descartes had this to state “that there is a specific body that is more firmly linked with our brain than some other body and follows from our unmistakable mindfulness that agony and different sensations come to us out of the blue.” Here Descartes tries to make an association between the brain and the human body.
In view of Buckle (2007), Descartes planned to question and reject from his life everything that he had encountered in his life. Everything that he had found in his adolescence and had never questioned was open to doubt by Descartes. Descartes found that it was easy to question the presence of real objects, but it is less demanding to question with regards to the presence of the supernatural.
Doubt could be essential in learning unless it influences the individual to dismiss all that they discover. For instance, if a student questions that they may fail in a certain subject, then, it is not a genuine key to knowledge (Peterson, 2017). However, in the event that this inspires a person and influences them to ponder on their actions, then, it is but if it debilitates a person then it isn’t. In this way, doubt is just a key to learning in specific situations. In addition, there is dependably the risk of incredulity, that unending inclination to uncertainty and question (Buckle, 2007). As to incredulity and uncertainty, it ought to be specified that with respect to Cartesian skepticism, there is intent to eliminate every conviction that could be questioned (Gibson, 2016). Therefore, Descartes and Plato keep just the fundamental convictions from which they will gain further knowledge. In light of this, doubt is essential to knowledge, but in specific situations.
Doubt makes people mindful and enables them to evaluate the reliability of the wellspring of knowledge they are utilizing. In Science, for example, this implies questioning things (endeavors to distort). Each discovery starts with a point of doubt (Ruddle-Miyamoto, 2017). A person perceives and sees the world with the aid of their senses, but they do not recognize what is real. Science is an assortment of human knowledge since it depends on proof and experiments and has at its base, the scientific strategy (Gibson, 2016). To test the doubts and prompt a decision, a person takes a scientific method. To begin with, they make an inquiry which is related with the doubt that they have and need to explore. After that, they assess information; thus are directed to shape a theory. From that point onward, they test the theory through an experiment to validate their doubt or not. Finally, they observer what occurred in the trial phase and reach a determination by either justifying their doubt or dismissing it.
Both Descartes and Plato offer intriguing methods for which to address everything that a person has known. Descartes’ systematic doubt of external realities and Plato’s allegory of the cave present a situation where a person must forsake everything that they have encountered in life previously (Buckle, 2007). In Plato’s allegory of the cave, the trip to knowledge and a noteworthy comprehension of existence, which is likewise valid for Descartes’ systematic doubt of external realities and neither, is without trouble. From the two philosophers, doubt is a multifaceted construct that involves a lot of factors with beneficial outcomes for any person. In view of the two philosophies, doubt is essential for knowledge (Peterson, 2017). Doubt makes people mindful and enables them to survey the dependability of the wellspring of learning they are utilizing. What is more, doubt brings into question some idea of an apparent “reality”, and may include postponing or dismissing relevant acts out of worries for slip-ups or blames or propriety. The notion of doubt comprises a number of phenomena: one can typify both intentional questioning of suspicions and a mental state of hesitancy as “doubt”.
Buckle, S. (2007). Descartes, Plato and the cave. Philosophy, 82(2), 301-337.
Gibson, A. B. (2016). The philosophy of Descartes. Routledge.
Peterson, V. V. (2017). Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: literacy and “the good”. Review of Communication, 17(4), 273-287.
Ruddle-Miyamoto, A. O. (2017). Regarding Doubt and Certainty in al-Ghazālī’s Deliverance from Error and Descartes’ Meditations. Philosophy East and West, 67(1), 160-176.