Objective or Subjective, Real or Unreal, True or False, Right or Wrong
by Demetra Monocrusso
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The debate on what is objective or subjective, real or unreal, true or false, right or wrong, in our times and circumstances, has turned into a social and medical dispute between two sides battling each other. The messages that politicians, certain scientists, the mass and social media send out are only helping to increase the tension and widen the divide between the two sides.
Let’s take a step back and remember the Allegory of Plato’s Cave in order to gain a perspective on the topic.
The Allegory of Plato’s Cave
The Allegory speaks of a group of people who are spending their entire lives chained to the wall of a cave, as prisoners, staring at a blank space. Objects passing in front of a fire behind them cast shadows on the wall, and people play a game, watching them and guessing what the names of the objects are. Those who guess correctly are revered as “masters” by their fellow prisoners. One member of the group manages to escape the cave and venture outside. He’s taken aback by the world outside the cave and doubts its veracity. As he gets used to his new surroundings, he comes to the realization that his previous perception of reality was incorrect. He soon realizes that the Sun is the source of all life, that the game in the cave is pointless, and he embarks on a journey where he encounters both beauty and meaning.
He returns to the cave to share his findings with the others, however, they do not believe him. If he attempts to set them free of their chains, they will likely kill him.
The cave, according to Plato, represents people who believe that knowledge comes from empirical evidence, in other words, what we can see and hear in the world. It illustrates how the proponents of empirical knowledge are mired in a “cave” of misconception.
Shadows represent our perception. Those who choose to rely only on empirical evidence, believe that this is the only way to know what is “objective” or “real” or “true” or “right” for certain. Plato’s message, however, is “do not be fooled by what you see; it is only an image of the reality that you are looking at“. According to Plato, those who cannot see this are ignorant.
The Game illustrates how people believe that those who have knowledge of the empirical world, are the authorities whom they should follow and listen to. These authorities are what my beloved teacher, the late Dr. Jerry, termed as the White and Black Magicians.
“…White Magicians are those teachers or aware people who encourage you to find your individuation and make self–discovery through your own efforts. They know you have that power within to become your own authority. You become independent. They, in turn, have your best interests at heart.
Black Magicians are those who would like to dominate you and subvert your freedom. They appear as spokespeople for you, discouraging you from becoming your own authority, relying instead on their presumed authority to speak up for you and speak for you. You become dependent on them who, at base, do not have your best interests at heart, only their own.
The White Magicians instill hope, that inner light showing us a way out of the darkness through our own efforts.
The Black Magicians instill fear, that disabling feeling keeping us in the dark and having to depend on others to lead us out of that darkness, having no real desire to do so…”
The escaped prisoner is symbolic of the Free Thinker, who seeks knowledge outside of the cave.
Dr. Jerry taught that the issue with skeptics is that they are based on a materialist philosophy that only that which can be measured and quantified is real. Therefore, only material experience is genuine. That is only half the truth. When we turn our sensory awareness inward, we reveal other realities that are as true as those of external reality. In personality psychology, one could say that these people lack the trait of “openness to experience” . Those who are “open to experience” come from an inclusionary perspective embracing the factual truth of objective material perception, as well as the truth of subjective reality. Where our senses are is where the truth lies. Reality and truth are not the same.
Since, so many individuals look to external authorities for guidance, they are easily tricked, hypnotized, and subdued by the “Black Magicians”. This is how societies knowingly or unknowingly contribute to the formation of totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is represented by the Return, where, should the escaped prisoner dare to try and set the others free, he will most likely be punished.
What is objective, subjective, real or unreal, true or false, right or wrong? I strongly encourage you to think outside the cave and find out for yourself.
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