“Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil”

Essay by valapspCollege, Undergraduate October 2014

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"Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil"

Immanuel Kant believes that an enlightened person is one who is brave enough to understand things by relying on himself. It is the fear to depend on one's thought and rational faculty that leads to human ignorance. He thinks "laziness and cowardice" are the main reasons of such fear. Humans are afraid to take the path toward knowledge; therefore, they remain ignorant for their entire life. Only a small number of people will benefit from their naturally given gift, their intellect, by "thinking for themselves". The key to this, Kant believes, lies in freedom, "freedom to use reason publicly". In "The Allegory of the Cave" by Plato, human beings in the cave resemble individuals who are not inclined to take the risk toward knowledge and the rare case that one person thinks differently and decides to uncover the truth. The author tries to show that our perception of the sensory world is deficient and there are realities beyond our thoughts and beliefs about this world.

Plato tries to demonstrate the humans' lack of knowledge, and the central theme of the allegory is humans imposing limitations on themselves. Plato describes a den in which human beings have been living since their childhood. They are restrained and are not able to see much of their surroundings. Their legs and necks are shackled in a way that they cannot see what's happening behind them. A wall all across the den separates them from people carrying various statues and animals made of different materials. The fire that is glowing on the other side of the wall projects the shadows of those statues and animals on a screen in front of the human beings, whom Plato later refers to as "prisoners" (868). Since the prisoners...