Plato: The Cave
Inference refers to the act of drawing a conclusion or coming up with a logical judgment about something, based on prior conclusions that might be true or not (Paul & Elder, 2002). Inferences are either justifiable or unjustifiable. On the other hand, assumptions refer to things that individuals presuppose or take for granted. In other words, assumptions are the unquestioned beliefs that people accept as true (Paul & Elder, 2002). One assumption I hold is that students who score highly in composition are good writers. The inference relating to this is that I am a good writer since I scored high marks. I also hold the assumption that those who watch news by international media outlets are more informed about world global politics. Since my father watches news by international media, he is more informed about global politics. The latter is the inference.
Clarity: this standard applies when a statement is not clear. It arises in situations where an individual is unable to elaborate a statement owing to it being vague. Clarity ensures that the phrasing of a statement or thought correct or can be clearly understood. For example, a statement such as “corruption in the U.S. law enforcement” is not clear. A clearer statement might be “what is the impact of corruption in U.S. law enforcement?” The other standard is depth. This standard involves how well an answer or response addresses the complexities of a question. For example, a student who answers “yes” to a question requiring discussion lacks depth.
Plato’s allegory tells the story of people held inside a cave, and bound by chains on their feet and neck. These people have stayed at the cave for so long that in their perspective this is the real world. The prisoners are accustomed to seeing shadows of animals and people coming from the fire at the outside of the cave. The shadows fall on the wall of the cave where the prisoners can see them. When one of the prisoners goes to the outside world, at first the light dazzles his eyes. As his eyes gain focus, he soon realizes that there is a real world – that the shadows were merely a reflection of by objects moving in front of the fire. The person realizes that there is an exit from the cave to the real world. He gives pity to his friends back in the cave. This person cannot convince those in the cave that there is a real world outside of the cave.
Plato’s allegory relates to the intellectual standard of logic. Logic refers to whether a statement makes sense or not. Plato’s allegory is logical in the sense that the people held inside the case believe that the case is the real world, while on going outside, the person realizes that there is a real world outside the cave. The other standard is relevance. Plato’s allegory is relevant since it helps to explain about various philosophical issues such as reality and illusion.
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2002). Critical thinking: tools for taking charge of your professional and personal life. New Jersey, NJ: FT Press.