Plato considers and believes that ultimate happiness is to come into union with the forms, the eternal, or
the beautiful and good, in this life. Happiness, for Plato, would be getting to know the forms, the eternal, or the
beautiful and good in this life. The forms are perfect ideals that exist in an unchanging heaven, which is not
dependent on us.
Although, as a young man, Plato drew upon Socrates' approach to philosophy as the inspiration for his
own philosophical system, his thought naturally evolved as he matured. Whereas Socrates believed that he
could arrive at happiness without spending much time considering metaphysical or epistemological questions,
Plato came to believe that such questions were of paramount importance. He gradually became convinced that
the world of the senses was deceptive and that the philosopher needed to somehow be able to transcend this
world intellectually if he was going to arrive at the Truth.
Plato shows this in the Myth of the Cave, where Plato
treats the difference between philosophers and non-philosophers, offering an insight into why the former group
has the possibility to attain happiness whereas the latter will not. In another one of Plato's dialogues, The
Symposium: The Ascent to the Good, I believe the text offers us an explanation of why anyone would want to
leave the comforts of the cave. Plato maintains that all human beings long to posses the eternal, the beautiful
and the good. As long as we settle for transient goods, we will never be satisfied. It is the job of the philosopher,
the one who has already had the vision of the beautiful, to lead the rest of us beyond the sensible realm of the
Forms. It is here that our longing will ultimately be satisfied and where we will find...