A term that I have come to understand and inherit during this session is paideia. The purpose of paideia is to provoke a common progressive order, for members of society to convene and participate in community gatherings in order to promote democracy. This concept of becoming involved in “the public square” is essential in a democratic society, and is also symbolic in the gathering of students for instruction. A meeting of the minds to encourage and attempt to accomplish that of the greater good is a concept that links directly to classical thinking.
When making connections to our reading, Plato’s Cave: On Breaking the Chains of Ignorance comes to mind, noting the metaphor of the cave used as a den of ignorance and unawareness. Those within the cave must break their chains of ignorance yet may not be willing to do so; it is in fact painful and dazzling to turn around from the shadows and look into the light. I relate this metaphor to the pain and torment that is usually necessary with the acquisition of wisdom. Sometimes it is easier to accept our chains of ignorance rather than endure what it takes to allow wisdom to reach us. Those that stayed in the cave still chained and facing the shadows may represent the concept of “meism”; perhaps they are unable or more likely unwilling to turn around and face the light. My favorite excerpt of this reading is as follows:
…The power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good (Plato).