Tag Archives: Plato

Experience This

In the reading we were assigned for Monday, John Dewey put a lot of emphasis on the importance of experience in education. His connection between personal experience and education remind me of my first blog post, “To Practice or To Preach?”

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Is it Necessary?

I was laying in my bed, wide awake Saturday night, not wanting to get out, lying to myself that Spring Break would never end. I scrolled through the internet, looking through articles that seemed interesting. One of the articles, you can read here, was especially enticing. It explained the story of the alleged roommate of one of the internet’s most notorious owner of drug-trafficking. He lived essentially a double-life: he was a normal guy, graduated from UT Austin, lived comfortably in his house in San Francisco; but when he was behind the computer, he went took on the role of the DreadPIrateRoberts, founder and admin of Silk Road, an underground black-market that oversaw the exchange of illicit drugs and other paraphernalia. Ultimately, he was figured out and is under control by the FBI.  As stated in the article, it came as a shock to his roommate, his parents and now ex-girlfriend.

What I want to know is was it right for him to conceal, or lie in order for him to run his website? Since he was the head of the organization, I feel that he should take full blame for what he did, although lucrative, it was still illegal. I thought of Plato’s Republic, in which Plato described to Glaucon the Noble Lie, and that it was okay for government to lie to the people. In a way, I feel this might be the same case. He was the head of an organization, and in order to keep order in his life, created two identities for himself, one that he showed to the public, and the other behind the glow of the computer screen.

Any thoughts?

PhotoCredit to http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/warnerr/plato.htm

PhotoCredit to http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/warnerr/plato.htm

The Mentality of Education

While looking for an article for this week’s post I stumbled across a piece in The Atlantic that discusses how important one’s thought process is in education. The way Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses his experience of learning French immediately sparked a connection between his experience with French and the slave Plato discusses in Meno.  Continue reading

Music Education

One thing that has really shaped who I am as an individual was having the opportunity to play an instrument and be part of my school’s band. I started taking lessons at a young age and as I grew older I became more involved with marching band, concert band, and wind ensemble. Personally, I have found that music education has made me a better person, and you can find countless articles out there that explain why learning music is beneficial.

Who did it better?

An Essay concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke is an interesting piece. In chapter 27, he uses an analogy of atoms in order to explain his theory that no two things can exist in the same place.

“let us suppose an atom…if two or more atoms be joined together in the same mass, every one of those atoms will be the same…But if one of these atoms be taken away, or one new one added, it is no longer the same mass, or the same body”(Ch.27;3).

Locke uses scientific concepts in order to reinforce his theory of composition. However, this seems to relate with Plato’s Meno in which Socrates uses mathematics in order to drive his theory.

While different in theory(Socrates trying to prove education, Locke with understanding), they both employ some sort of quantitative medium in which to explain their points.  In regards to who I feel had a stronger analogy, let us analyze the examples. In Meno, Socrates uses a geometric shape with quantitative measurements in the form of numbers. Locke uses atomic theory in its infancy in order to push his point.

I am not saying that Plato’s argument is stronger or better than Locke’s, however in An Essay concerning Human Understanding, Locke employs concepts that were fairly new at the time of his writing, and therefore was not readily understood by everyone. Geometry and measurement has a longer history, with a much more far-reaching audience, explaining how the Slave knew some of what Socrates’ was explaining.

Lies to the Eyes

Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, introduces a thought provoking statement: “We all suppose that what we know is not capable of being otherwise; of things capable of being otherwise we do not know, when they have passed outside our observation, whether they exist or not.” (1139b36-1139b36 p. 1799) Continue reading

Existence Through Participation

“Plato accepted his teaching, but held that the problem applied not to any sensible thing but to entities of another kind—for this reason, that the common definition could not be a definition of any sensible thing, as they were always changing. Things of this other sort, then, he called Ideas, and sensible things, he said, were apart from these, and were all called after these; for the multitude of things which have the same name as the Form exist by participation in it. Only the name ‘participation’ was new; for the Pythagoreans say that things exist by imitation of numbers, and Plato says they exist by participation, changing the name. But what the participation or the imitation of the Forms could be they left an open question” (V I, Book VI).

After coming from reading several excerpts from Plato’s documents concerning Socrates’ life experiences and lessons, I find the transition to examining Plato’s ideas through Aristotle quite fascinating. It is somewhat reticent of coming full circle in that after Plato sharing his mentor’s philosophy in various different documents, now Aristotle is relating his mentor’s theories.

Additionally, I found this passage very interesting for its content. I find that I do not understand much of it except for the last two lines, especially the part concerning participation in relation to Form. Therefore, I bring this excerpt of the reading up for discussion because I am not entirely sure of its meaning and want to come to a better understanding to it.

What I gather from this passage is that Plato believed that change dictates much of life, and that its transformative power allows for progression in many aspects of existence. He was convinced that nothing was concrete or static; everything was constantly evolving into different things. Unlike Socrates, his beloved teacher, Plato was focused on both the ethical and the physical, looking at all entities of knowledge in order to gain a better understanding of the universe.

Plato did not believe in simple definitions; rather, he was convinced that the term “Idea” was the best word that could be used to define the concept of a certain form of existence. According to Plato, a “common definition could not be a definition of any sensible thing, as they [entities of another kind] were always changing” (V I, Book VI).

Furthermore, he believed that all things exist in relation to Form, or an abstract property or quality. This means that by stripping away fundamental or properties or qualities and examining just the object by itself, one would be able to analyze the form of that object. Based off of this theory, Plato believed that forms are the causes of all that exists in the world. He, therefore, asserts that the best way in which to examine the world is through the sensation of non-material abstract forms, or ideas, in order to gain the most fundamental source of reality.

I have to say that I am very confused by what this all means. I am in agreement with most of what I understand from this passage, but I am still pretty lost about the idea of participation in Form. I do believe that nearly everything in life is transitory, constantly evolving and always moving in one direction or another. I also believe that if we strip an object of its characteristics and qualities, we can move towards understanding what it is composed of, what its qualities can cause or bring forth, and why it exists. However, I am still pretty confused about Plato’s theory concerning Form.

Any thoughts?

Education: Jack vs. The Renaissance man

In Plato’s Republic Socrates’ character states that people are better off restricting themselves to one craft than practicing many(Republic 370b). He makes several comments of this nature, going so far as to insist that a person should, “stick to [his trade] for life, and keep away from other crafts so as not to miss the opportunities to practise his own craft well”(Republic 374c). Interestingly enough, there is a slightly-more-modern- than-Plato figure of speech which basically sums up the idea that a person with many skills is not necessarily outstanding at any one skill: “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Although the question of many trades versus one was not brought up as part of the education of the guardians(it was only made relevant to the formation of the city), I think it is important to our classroom discussion on education. Should education be broad or focused? Continue reading

Censorship for the children

In an age in which freedom of expression is revered as an undeniable right, Socrates’ suggestions about education in The Republic seem to violate the basic principles of liberty and freedom. “Then we must first of all, it seems, supervise the storytellers. We’ll select their stories whenever they are fine or beautiful and reject them when they aren’t,”(377c) suggests Socrates. A modern-day person will most certainly brand this as unwarranted censorship. However, I believe that modern-day educators can learn something important from Socrates.

Childhood is a critical period in a person’s development. Values, principles, and habits developed in this period persist throughout a person’s lifetime. According to Socrates, “it’s at that time that it is most malleable and takes on any pattern one wishes to impress on it.”(377b) A child’s moral sense is not fully developed; he or she sometimes cannot distinguish the good from the bad. Consequently, it is completely logical and reasonable to expose children to the good and justice, and deny them access to the bad and evil. With the advent of the Internet, children can easily access billions of webpages, images, and videos. A child can easily pick up any bad habit or principle off the Internet; the opportunities are endless. As a result, carefully censoring the Internet for children is a necessity.

To rid the world of evil, you don’t work with adults who have already developed their values and principles, but with children who are developing theirs. The world would be a much better place if every single child was raised in an environment that promotes justice and goodness.

Are Professions Predestined?

Are people born with an inclination to do a certain job? Plato (through Socrates) believes this is the case (370b-c). He says, “one man is naturally fitted for one task, and another for another.” This means that fate determines what your profession will be before you ever set foot in school. If you don’t do this job, you are not being the best that you can be.

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