Chapter 3: The River Of Time

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

This post is part of the: 'The Digital Renaissance' thread, a blog sequence that explores the capabilities and history of 'The Power Of Collaboration' and demonstrates how we can solve most if not all major issues of our time by leveraging collaborative and distributed principles on a global scale.

Since our time is valuable and scarce, you can speed-read through the articles in this thread by focussing on the emphasized pieces of text.

To understand the nature of The Digital Renaissance we need to explore how we as humans have evolved and organized ourselves over time. The fundamental question here is: "How did our past lead us to where we are today?" For those who are interested in the full story, we can go all the way back to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In particular, I want to highlight two specific works related to their names: Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics.


The 21st Century Cave

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, authored by Plato around 375 BC, concerning justice, the order and character of the just city-state, and the just man. It is Plato's best-known work, and has proven to be one of the world's most influential works of philosophy and political theory, both intellectually and historically. In the dialogue, Socrates talks with various Athenians and foreigners about the meaning of justice and whether the just man is happier than the unjust man. In one of the ‘books’, a conversation between Socrates and Plato’s brother Glauton finds Socrates talking about 'The Analogy of the Cave'. The analogy describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality.

Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. The inmates of this place do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day, and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was. They discovered the sun, which Plato uses as an analogy for the fire that man cannot see behind.


In a more modern way of speaking, Socrates was actually describing the following: We as human beings live our lives by what we accept as correct and true, that is how we define reality. But what does it mean to be correct and true? These are merely vague concepts and our reality may be an illusion or a reflection of reality. When applying this analogy, modern philosophers, visionaries & innovators have the task of leading the way out of the cave. The have to do this by continuously challenging the status quo, even though this is often not welcomed and appreciated (just as in The Analogy of the Cave). It is therefore in our utmost benefit to keep questioning the society, systems and world we live in so that we can keep improving our standard of life because be honest with me.. exploring the vast world out there sounds more inviting than sitting in a cave, right?


We as humans need to innovate, we need to improve and we need to find our way out of caves. Initially, this will lead to great protest from the vested order since 9/10 times power distribution doesn’t come in favor of the select few that are sitting on top of the mountain of success (I will come back to this later). This is an essential part of this thread: What is and how can we get out of our 21st century cave? Great plan Joey, but how does that work in reality? (pun intended)


Ideal Societies - Dreams Can Become Reality

Actually, we have been trying to get out of our caves for quite some time already. Ever since the ancient times, free thinkers have taken up the task of understanding and improving the world and the systems we live in. Often, this also included criticizing one’s peers, as was the case with Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle disagreed with Plato’s Philosopher King and came up with his own theory about the way i