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September 22, 2013 / Dale Melchin

The Reason for Cynicism: How to get out

We now turn to Plato’s Cave, taken from the Republic. (I’ll give you a break from The Matrix.)  Say you’ve been stuck in this cave of cynicism for longer than you remember, but for whatever reason, you are a prisoner who was chosen to be free.

Or lets use this analogy.  Let’s say you in your frustration, managed to pull the chains on your legs off the wall to which you were once held fast.  You start wandering around behind the wall and see a fire with people standing around it.  After your eyes adjust you converse with the folks around the fire.  You then proceed outside into the noon day sun.  Again at first, your eyes are blinded, but then you adjust and you begin to see the world for all of its beauty.

After some time and training, you decide to go back and get your friends in the cave.  The other philosophers warn you about their temperament, but you love them so much you want to go get them anyway.

Now according to the story of the cave, the folks in the cave naturally disbelieve the man who got out, and deride him and eventually try to kill him.  He escapes of course, using his new found abilities to do so.

The truth of the matter is and I am going to be so bold as to say Plato overlooked the following.  When we are born in the cave, we are not bound to the wall.  We are eventually bound to the wall by our responses to those who were already in the cave.  The other people in the cave didn’t do it.  We did it to ourselves.  If we did it to ourselves by our responses to our environment we can do it by our ability to choose our responses.  I’m speaking in a strictly philosophical and psychological sense, not a theological one.  You Calvinists can stop baying at me now.  Thank you.

The way we break out of the cave is by the use of our intelligence and our intuition.  The insights we gain help loosen the chains on our minds to where we have greater range of motion, and eventually freedom from the chains.  And it all comes back to choice.  I know of some folks who have gained enough intelligence and wisdom from being in the cave of their culture, that they got tired of it, much like I did.  But I also know of some famous people who did as well.  If you read up on Gordon Ramsey, he is an example of this and I will be writing about him later.

The point is the Story of the Cave breaks down.  We are not in a physical cave, but in a cave of the mind.  You have the ability to question the paradigms that have been foisted upon you in the cave.  Is that true?  Is that really the way it is?  With enough questioning of your old conclusions begin to break down, and you can begin to see things in a new way.  It is a simple matter of choice.

Are you a cynic?  Why?  Have you broken out of cynicism or negativity?  If so, how did you do it?

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