This week in Philosophy, our class has been avidly participating in heated discussions ranging from the Matrix to the reality of life. One particular idea that stirs me is that “logic is built out of our assumed foundation knowledge”; in which our knowledge comes from personal experiences through our senses. Each individual perceives the world differently though we might be exposed to the same sources. Through these diverse perspectives, humans have been able to build a sense of concreted idea for people to accept or contradict.
Many times, we come across those individuals whom we label as “stubborn” or “hard-headed” – and those people are called you and me. Take Christopher Columbus for example, when he made his renowned claim “the Earth is flat”, man’s first reaction was to shut the idea down. Why? Because this is a whole new concept for them, it is “unnatural” as Tim Wilson describes in Plato’s Cave Analysis. For this notion to become “truth”, it took years of endless persuading and proving. After several years later, when the “theory of the flat earth” was contradicted once again with newer evidence, us humans rejected strongly to this new thought. Though today we have accepted the physical theory of living on a round earth, the world needs people like Christopher Columbus to add a little spice into our thinking; opening up our minds to new ideas in philosophy.
Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” further extends this statement of “logic built upon our assumed foundation knowledge”. It goes out to illustrate how humans are shackled in our own understanding and “reality” that we fail to truly see the bigger, more realistic world…one that is closer to the truth. The prisoners in the cave can only see the shadows inside the dark cave like ourselves – this is as close to truth that they can get. They are blissfully unaware of the knowledge surrounding them. But sometimes when we are forced to open our minds, it could be a difficult and painful journey, as the metaphor describes the prisoner being dragged out of his restricted knowledge into the blinding light of the outside world. He will first experience excruciating pain, but when it fades away, the scene he witnesses before him is an enlightenment. A new “true belief”.
Perhaps now, we may be comfortable staying in that dark cave, absorbed with our own definition of knowledge and reality; but why not try opening up our minds to other beliefs? By listening to people from different perspectives, we are welcome to more knowledge – which builds our logic. Here’s a metaphor to go with it: if we grab a handful of sand, that handful is all we can get. But if we open our palms, all the sand on the beach is ours to take.