Review the reading in chapter 1.3 of your text, Plato ’s myth of the cave. Look up Plato’s myth of the cave on the Internet for additional help in understanding the story.  You should find...

  1. Review the reading in chapter 1.3 of your text, Plato ’s myth of the cave.
  2. Look up Plato’s myth of the cave on the Internet for additional help in understanding the story.  You should find the full text as well as diagrams and videos. 
  3. Write a 150-200 word description (3-4 paragraphs with at least 5 observations) about the contrast between fatalism (determinism) and freedom.  Use the four-step methodology of
    1. Understanding
    2. Analysis
    3. Evaluation
    4. Application- You may use Plato’s Myth as your illustration for application.
    5. You may also want to try the synthesis by coming up with your own new paradigm for this concept (and your own illustration).
Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You won't get the essay written for you here.  I think that the best approach that can be offered is to offer potential approaches in addressing the essay. I am sure that others will offer their own insights, and through this, you can determine the best approach to writing the essay.

The "Understanding" phase of the essay might simply consist in defining the terms in question. One can use a basic definition of "free will" to help in this process.  Free will can be seen as the ability for individuals to make decisions that are "unconstrained by certain factors."  Free will is the extent to which human beings have freedom and are agents of action through their own volition and choice.  Through this, one can see a definition of fate as elements that might counteract or limit the perceived condition of freedom.  This could include "metaphysical constraints (such as logical, nomological, or theological determinism), physical constraints (such as chains or imprisonment), social constraints (such as threat of punishment or censure), and mental constraints (such as compulsions or phobias, neurological disorders, or genetic predispositions)."  For purposes of this discussion, fate operates as the countervailing force to one's own perceived notion of free will.  The collision between fate and free will is essential in helping to define what it means to be a human being:  

Free will engages us deeply because it seems central to our conception of who we are, our place in the world, and our moral intuitions. To take a position on whether we have free will, and what sort of freedom this is, is to take positions on a host of other fundamental and necessarily interlocking issues...

From this initial point of understanding through defining terms, the exposition of the paper can help to establish a launching point for the rest of it.

In terms of your analysis, I think that much of this is going to be defined in terms of what has been generated through your class discussion.  On one hand, I think that a good point of analysis would be to discuss the implications of each position.  For example, it might be effective to analyze why "free will... becomes central to our conception of who we are."  Involving what it means to engage in self- definition and identity formation might be critical here.  At the same time, I would suggest that as globalization and technological advances have taken hold to make the world "smaller," shared values have become evident.  Some of these is the belief in free will.  A traditionally "Western" concept, free will has become evident in how individuals recognize that there are more options and opportunities to them now than ever.  This vision of free will has become "exported" to a great extent.  Globalization and its perceived advantages do not reconcile well to a determinist paradigm.  It might be effective to analyze how the free will methodology is a part of our world today because of its globalized nature.  At the same time, I think that being able to equally distill how determinism is evident in many aspects of modern consciousness might be worthwhile.  As freedom has increased, so, too, has the understanding that individuals might be subject to other variables around them.  Economic determinism, genetic predisposition, mental constraints, and social conditions are more widely accepted and advocated today than at any other time.  For example, thirty years ago, it was not uncommon to hear parents tell their children that their goal should be to make more money than they do.  Yet, economic determinism has become a reality in which parents are honest in telling their children that they might not go to college because of finances or that children once they graduate from college.  Being able to analyze how the issue of fate and free will holds much in way of implications upon who individuals are and how they perceive the world and their place could be effective in this portion of the paper.

In the Evaluation mode, I think that you are going to have to engage in some reflection and consider what you feel is the more persuasive argument in the paradigm.  This is going to be a matter of choice.  Yet, interesting enough, it might be reflective of your own personal predilection.  If you tend to advocate a greater sense of human freedom in forming individual identity, then you might go with a free will aspect of the paradigm, and conversely, if you believe that individuals are more of a product of other conditions that surround them, perhaps a more fated condition might be where your intellectual preferences lie.  I think that this phase of the paper is going to be driven through your own voice.

In terms of the application of the paper, using Plato's Allegory of the Cave is going to be critical.  Like so much in Plato, the Allegory is complex in terms of viewing the free will and fated platform.  On one hand, Socrates does argue from a perspective of freedom.  He asserts that the philosophers, or individuals who are trained in their understanding of the forms, have to return to the position of political leadership.  Socrates makes it clear that free will is also evident in those who will assume leadership if the philosophers do not assume their rightful position, as the city will be “governed by men who fight over shadows with one another and form factions for the sake of ruling, as though it were some great goal.”  Yet, at the same time, I think that there is enough in the Allegory that speaks to a fated condition of being.  For example, Socrates makes it clear that the forms are within the individual, embedded in their soul. Individuals do require an education to liberate it, and thus there is an aspect of determinism evident.  At the same time, I would suggest that there is a deterministic condition in Socrates's world because there will be people who shall remain as unenlightened.  Socrates does not advocate a vision that is democratic.  He suggests that there will be individuals on the bottom, consigned to remain at this condition of being in the world.  In this light, there is a condition of fate present in the Allegory of the Cave.  Exploring this dynamic can show the application of the fate and free will paradigm to intellectual history.

In terms of the synthesis phase, you might want to take the hybrid approach. This could consist of arguing that there is free will for the individual, to an extent.  We make the choices that define us in terms of responding to the cries of other people's suffering, being an active agent in making our own small worlds more equitable and predicated upon fairness, or emboldening the aggressive forces that perpetuate the silencing of voice.  At the same time, we are subject to our own set of deterministic conditions that govern reality around us.  This includes financial reality and other material aspects of being.  Discussing this hybrid approach to being in the world might be a meaningful way to conclude your paper.