Re: virus: Rationality in the Cave

David McFadzean (
Sun, 7 Mar 1999 18:07:29 -0700

-----Original Message-----
From: KMO <>
To: Virus <>
Date: Saturday, March 06, 1999 6:16 PM
Subject: virus: Rationality in the Cave

>Prisoners chained up in Plato's cave develop a self-correcting system
>for cutting and controlling the shadows on the wall.

<big snip>

How many levels of faith are identified here?

  1. Empirical - faith in one's own experience (or more correctly, one's interpretation of one's memories of one's own experience... more on this later).
  2. Circumstantial - faith based on evidence that is not entirely inconsistent with the belief. This applies to the believer who detected the "unfamiliar scent" on the subject of the story.
  3. Anecdotal - faith based on the stories of believers. "Born-again" believers converted by charasmatic story-telling.
  4. Traditional - faith based on the community in which one is raised.

I guess there is also

5) Situational - faith based on adopting a belief system for a purpose, also known as Level 3.


My concern with the Cave story is that it is implicitly asserted that all faith can be traced back to an authentic experience. Someone really did leave the Cave, and the Outside really was indescribable within the context of Cave Rationality.

Is it not possible that the original Traveller misinterpreted a dream, delusion or hallucination? If so, how can you tell?

Are there not many different, mutually exclusive tales of the Outside with corresponding believers of all levels? Are all of them true? If not, how can you tell?

What does Outside the Cave connote to you?