Plato believes that man cannot trust his senses as a way to gain knowledge and that the mind has an inherent ability to reason and seek knowledge. Unlike Plato, Hume believes that only those things experienced by man's senses can lead to knowledge and man's mind is cannot reason without impressions and experiences. This paper will use Plato's "Allegory of the Cave", to demonstrate the validity of both philosophies on man's reasoning and his ability to gain knowledge.
In his "Allegory of the Cave", Plato depicts man as a prisoners who have lived in a cave since birth and only sees shadows. They know no other world. Puppeteers walk behind the men and hold up objects that cast shadows on the wall, and he speaks and play sounds. "Then the prisoners would in every way believe that the truth is nothing other than the shadows of those artifacts." (Plato 143). The prisoners see the shadows; hear the sounds and think believe them to be reality. To examine these beliefs, let us look at a scenario where the puppeteer turns the lights on and off, and during the off time, tips the tree over and plays a "bang" sound. When the light comes back on, the prisoners see the tree lying down. This is done over and over again, day after day. Plato would state that the prisoners will believe that all objects are shadow gray in color that the shadows are the real object. He would argue that the prisoners would think that the dark and loud bang noise is what caused the tree to fall down. Since these things are not true, it seems that perhaps Plato is right. The problem I see is that Plato has created a false world in the cave and then tries to apply his results to the real world. More importantly, Plato says that if one escapes the cave and finds truth, he should come back and spread the truth. This is a contradiction because the way the escapee found the truth was experiencing the real world through his senses.