1. What to you are the central themes in Plato’s allegory of the cave? What are the ways by which the film closely resembles the allegory of the cave? Conversely, what are the ways by which the film differs from it?
The allegory of the cave centers itself in the factuality of the human mind being subjected to empirical evidences. The way we comprehend things is based on what we see, what we hear, what we smell, or what we feel. Thus, our mind could be sensory in nature. In Plato’s theory, it is implied that people who believes in empirical knowledge are trapped in a ‘cave’ of misunderstanding. This simply means that people have the tendency to become blinded and confined only to what their senses have provided for them. Applying the past lessons in Philosophy, this situation is similar with the notion that we cannot trust our senses at all times. One reason is that as a human being, it is plausible for us to observe only the things that we intend to observe. Almost always, we are too much engrossed with commonality or with what is explicitly exposed that we forget to look into the core of every matter.
In the story, the prisoner who had the chance to explore the outside world of the cave represents a philosopher who is courageous enough to look deeply into the existence of certain matters rather than just accepting what has been already provided for them as the truth. Simply put, for us to feel what truth is, there is a need for us to move out of the boundaries of our senses and discover the absolute truth beyond the existence of empirical evidences. On the other hand, the prisoners who ridiculed the man who had escaped represent those people who fear of knowing what the ‘real’ truth is. Their minds were already poisoned with that their senses have considered as the truth that they no longer have the faith to venture more in the realms of truth.
Generally, the allegory of the cave is centered in two things: One is the danger of having a mind created with empirical knowledge and the other is the importance of looking deeply into matters rather than being blinded with our senses.
SUBQUESTION # 2
The movie Inception could be a modern day manifestation of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. In the movie, Cobb and Mal represents the man who escaped the cave and the prisoners respectively. The film shows the struggle that Cobb underwent in the course of reviving the realism of his wife, Mal. Towards the middle part of the movie, it was shown how Mal became blinded with what she saw in their dream. Her mind became occupied with all the empirical evidences that they have created in the other dimension. Since then, she has taken the dream as their new reality. Due to her false belief, she failed to differentiate between what is real and what is not. Her senses have conquered her entire consciousness that led her into becoming a skeptic towards Cobb. Her world became confined only to what can be clearly seen and felt.
Another factor that resembles the allegory of the cave is the period of which they have stayed in Limbo. Construing from both the story and the film, it is implied that time can also be a factor that would affect the way a person views reality. Time is so strong that it can actually pull out a person from what he previously believed in and lead him into believing something different. This effect of time in a person’s belief is manifested in both Allegory of the Cave and Inception.
Plato’s allegory of the cave talks about the accent and decent of a person’s perspective or simply the changes in the person’s perspective that determines what things the person accepts as “true” about the world around them. The person is aware of everything that exists in the different worlds and can therefore say with certainty how things “should be”.
Inception, however shows that what a person accepts as “true” about the world may not be actually true at all but merely a paradigm or version of reality imposed by a “higher” being or an “architect”. The person however not entirely aware of this and therefore cannot or will not seek a way to determine if what they experience is actually “should be” or not.
In another way of explaining it – In Inception, the characters have their own boxes of reality but they ended up in one box of reality which is the dream (ending). In the Allegory of the Cave, they are all trapped in one box of reality which is the fake world, but when one of them escaped and realized that there is a real world beyond the fake world, the prisoners decided to dwell in the fake world.
2. How does the mind separate false reality from true reality? Enumerate instances (key scenes) where the film clearly delineates “false” reality from “true” reality.
One of the techniques that Cobb used to separate false reality and the true reality is to create scenes that are made from purely imagination and not from memories. This is shown when Cobb is training Ariadne on how to be an architect by creating a world through their dreams. Ariadne was experimenting on the world that she designed through Cobb’s dream. Later on, Cobb realized that the place they are walking in is a real place in Paris and the projections started to be uncontrollable. After that, he advised Ariadne to create a world that is purely from her own imagination to separate dreams from reality.
Another technique that Cobb uses to distinguish dreams from reality is the use of the totem. After a dream, he spins it and if it did not stop spinning, it means that he is dreaming. Otherwise, he is back in reality. In the beginning of the movie, Cobb’s totem was first seen when Saito’s bodyguards caught him lying in the shores. Saito spins the totem in the long table and later on the scene was continued before they woke up in the plane. Cobb and Saito saw that the totem did not stop spinning and they later realized that they are stuck in the limbo. Presumably, Saito used the gun to Cobb and to him to wake up them up to reality.
In their inception mission, Cobb used different locations to help them remember what layer of the dream they are already in during the mission. Here are the list of the layers of dream and their places:
Reality Airplane (Indoors)
Layer 1 Raining in a city (Outdoors)
Layer 2 Hotel (Indoors)
Layer 3 Mountain with snow (Outdoors)
Layer 4 Saito’s castle (Indoors)
The patterns are alternating and the places very different from each other so that they can remember what level of dream they are already after they wake up from the kick of the previous layers.
3. How does the mind separate false reality from true reality? Enumerate instances (key scenes) where the film clearly delineates “false” reality from “true” reality.
In the movie , Cobb kept dreaming of her wife and there he had free will to do what he wanted although there were restrictions. I think you have free will although someone infiltrate your dreams because the decision of doing an act is still dependent on the person himself. Free will is easily manipulated especially if a person is truly unintetested on doing something. The will of doing something is very important as seen in the movie inception , Cobb at first didn’t want to leave and hurt his wife but at the end he was manipulated and convinced of doing such act. Also at the beginning, Ariadne was manipulated by Cobb to do certain tasks although she had free will. Also , manipulation was evident when Robert Fischer was told to something although it was against his will.
4. How does the mind separate false reality from true reality? Enumerate instances (key scenes) where the film clearly delineates “false” reality from “true” reality.
At first glance, one would not see the connection of the film with the 4 Noble Truths, but upon researching about the Noble Truths and watching the film a couple of times, the group was able to make a connection. The 1st Noble Truth is about recognizing the suffering that Cobb has been going through, and by his actions, we can say that his suffering is that he has not let go of Mal yet. It was shown in the film that Cobb would revisit her whenever he dreamt. Also, it was evident that whenever he was in his subconsciousness, he would have projections of her. The 2nd Noble Truth, which is recognizing the origin of suffering is seen in the film in various scenes which all connect to one another. We first recognize it when Cobb is stuck in limbo with Mal for 50 years. It means that he was attached to Mal, which is why he keeps going back to her whenever he dreams. But why is he attached to Mal? It was revealed later on that he was attached to Mal somewhat because of guilt. Guilt because he planted the idea on her, that her world is not real, which led for her to commit suicide. The 3rd Noble Truth could be seen when Cobb was in the 4th realm with Ariadne, Mr. Fischer and Mal. We see that Cobb tries to make amends by letting go of Mal. The 4th Noble Truth, which is that there is a path leading to the cessation of suffering, is seen when Cobb arrives back home and sees his kids.