Deep down in the appetitive cave of my soul
I dwell amongst the shadows which I belief to be real.
Drawn by the bright rays of the form of the good
I start my accent up the divided line.
First I see only images but then I make out things,
Of which I am quick to opine.
Allying my spirited part to help train my rational part,
I harness my appetitive part to jump across the line
So that I can start thinking about math and science.
Not quite satisfied yet, I seek to understand the forms themselves
Floating around in the realm of being.
Finally reaching knowledge and the light of the form of the good
My soul is happy, well aligned as it is, and justice is served.
This poem touches on a lot of Plato’s teaching, including the divided line and his tri-partied soul. In part, I used these pieces because they also sound great (like “appetitive”…) but also to give a little idea of Plato’s work. I was trying to make the terms obvious in the poem but I might not have succeeded, so please use the comments to ask for more details if you’re interested…
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (Republic, 514a-520a) summarizes his metaphysical as well as his educational theories. In the cave are prisoners who see nothing but shadows projected onto a wall by puppeteers who are behind another wall that blocks direct sunlight (514a-b). The prisoners believe that the shadows are images of the real world (515c). One prisoner is forced up a path out of the cave into the sun (515e). As his eyes adjust to the bright light of the sun, he begins to see first the images of objects and then the objects themselves (516a). Finally, he can see the sun and study it (516b). As Plato unravels his Allegory, he explains that the journey of the prisoner out of the cave reflects the journey of the soul from the depths of the realm of becoming – perceiving only images via the faculty of imagining, then noticing the concrete objects and forming beliefs about them – to the height of the realm of being, where he first uses his faculty of thought to think about the sun. Then finally using the faculty of understanding, he achieves knowledge of the sun (517b). Education, as Plato sees it, helps a soul accent up the divided line (518d).