Lecture: Plato’s Republic

On November 20th, Professor Greg Fried (Suffolk University, Department of Philosophy), a long-time friend and colleague of the Core, lectured to the students of CC101 about Plato’s Republic. Here we offer an excerpt from his lecture:

  • MORPHEUS: Do you want to know what it is, Neo? The Matrix is everywhere; it’s all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it out your window, or on your television. You feel it when you go to work, or go to church or pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
  • NEO: What truth?
  • MORPHEUS: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, was born into bondage… … kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself… This is your last chance. After this, there is no going back. You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.

So, Neo is a prisoner in the Cave, or in the Matrix.

This looks like a movie theater. Plato was the first cinematographer! The fire acts as a projector, casting an image on the wall. Socrates says there are people walking along this Cave holding things up above the wall, and they cast these projections that the prisoners observe and think is the whole of reality.

Something has to happen to dislodge the prisoners facing this Cave. Socrates thinks about the release:

“Consider, I said, what their release and healing from bonds would be like if something of this sort were by nature to happen to them.” (This is the offering of the blue and red pill.) “Take a man who is released an suddenly compelled to stand up, to turn his neck around, to walk and look up towards the light and whoever is doing this is in pain and because he is dazzled is unable to make out those things whose shadows he saw before. What do you think he’d say if someone were to tell him that before he saw nothings, while now, because he is somewhat nearer to what is?” (Morpheus’ claim)… don’t you suppose he would be at a loss as to what is and what is not true?”

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