We finally got to the most famous passage in Plato today, and I drew my now-well-rehearsed version of the Allegory of the Cave on the board for each group. (It didn’t look nearly as cool as this picture.) In 8:00 section we spent far more time on the theoretical principles, namely the relationships betwen the by-definition-unseeable (I got to rehearse my quick and dirty version of Heisenberg) and the empirical and how modern science education in many ways would strike Plato as spot on for the citizens of a good city. In 9:30 our focus was ethics, namely to what extent duty was a category that means anything in the modern world. Some students had a sense that they should serve a larger community, while others articulated something closer to a commercial relationship: I paid to come here, so I don’t owe anybody anything. I tried, as much as I could, to lay back and let them talk these important things over.
I always like to teach this section because I know that these folks will likely run across somebody who misunderstands the passage (rendering it as some sort of mystical journey or escape from “the man” or from homicidal robots who want to use them as batteries), and my hope is that such encounters will allow them to have conversations about reality and education and duty and such.
Now I’ve got to do my duty and grade these papers. I told my students I’d shoot for Thursday morning, and I’m already regretting that promise. Ah, well. Back to work for me.