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Malcolm X and Plato: the Path to Become Mentally Alive

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Being “mentally alive” come in different forms. Many people define themselves as being “mentally alive” based on experiences that they went through or going through. For instance, some may go through terrible experiences which can affect them mentally. Therefore, many of them can be physically alive but not mentally alive. Others may feel being “mentally alive” due to a hobby they enjoy doing. The state of being “mentally alive” is more like a feeling where an individual is opened-minded and can be fully aware of their abilities in a positive way. There are certain ways one can become “mentally alive”. This can be through self motivation and being enlightened. One have to be motivated to become enlightened in order to be mentally alive. Enlightenment is a major way of becoming “mentally alive” because one uses logic to better understand and view things. When someone is enlightened it opens one’s mind due to the knowledge they gained. Through the knowledge gained or being enlightened, changes can be made in society. Also, when one is enlightened they can educate others based on what they know.

Moreover, the enlightenment was a movement that began in the eighteenth century in which philosophers tried to inform the public their ideas and convince them to believe them. There were many philosophers like Socrates, Heraclitus, Gorchias, Plato etc. Plato, wrote this book called “Allegory of the Cave”. In “Allegory of the Cave” Plato describes a scene in which it includes some prisoners tied up with chains around their legs, arms, and necks where they can’t move their heads and are facing the wall. Behind them there is this fire and between them there is this roadway where people pass by carrying items. The prisoners have no clue what these items are and are guessing based on what they see from the shadows on the wall they’re facing. The reading continues with a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon with questions and answers. Basically, Plato claims that humans are like the prisoners in the cave in which he believes that what humans see is what they believe is the “truth” and in order to know the truth one must come out of the cave to be enlightened. Likewise, in the other reading “Prison Studies” Malcolm X describes his story from being uneducated to educating himself. Malcolm X learned how to read and write on his own while he was in prison. He believed having an education or being educated was needed in order to fight for social injustice.

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Moreover, Malcolm X’s definition of himself being mentally alive was the ability to read and write. Malcolm X states “I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me.I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive” (77). This quote shows how since Malcolm X learned how to read he felt that he was mentally alive even though he was in prison, the ability he had to read was important. In addition, there was some sort of motivation that made him eager to accomplish this. This was self-motivation. In the reading Malcolm X also states, “it had really begun back in the Charlestown Prison, when Bimbi first made me feel envy of his stock of knowledge” (77). This statement shows that Malcolm X was motivated to learn how to read and write in order to gain the knowledge Bimbi had. Self-motivation was the main thing that drove him to be enlightened. As you can see Malcolm X was motivated to become enlightened and this lead him to be mentally alive. When someone is motivated to accomplish something they will be successful because there is something that is motivating them. After Malcolm X was enlightened he knew that having knowledge would help him fight for social injustice, he would fight for equality for his race.

Furthermore, in “Allegory of the Cave” Plato discusses his view in education. In the reading Plato states, “Education is not what some people proclaim it to be. What they say roughly speaking is that they are able to put knowledge into souls where none was before” (4). This statement shows that the way we think about education is not what we think it is. According to Plato, he believes education is more like a transformation and it doesn’t tell us the “truth”. What he means by transformation is that he believes teachers provides us with knowledge that changes the way we think. Therefore, if we want to know the “truth” we as humans must be enlightened. We must be motivated to learn in order to know the “truth”. In addition, Plato continues to discuss the need to be enlightened in order to know the “truth”. Plato states, “How could they, if they had been prevented from moving their heads all their lives?” (1). The quotes shows how the prisoners don’t really see what’s really behind them because they can’t move, so when the prisoners are free they get to see what was really behind. Therefore, for someone to understand something they have to be enlightened meaning they have to gain knowledge. When someone is enlightened it opens one’s mind making them think differently by having their own ideas or beliefs and can later on make inferences. To sum it up, we must be able to be enlightened in order to know the “truth” instead of just being ignorant and not having any knowledge. This can make someone “mentally alive” because with knowledge it makes it difficult for someone to change your opinion on something.

As a result, being enlightened is a major way of becoming mentally alive because one uses logic to better understand and view things in society. When someone is enlightened it makes them think deeply due to the knowledge they gained. Therefore, changes can be made in society like social change. People has their own definition of being mentally alive but in order to be mentally alive there has to be some sort of knowledge gained.

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Malcolm X and Plato: the Path to Become Mentally Alive. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from
“Malcolm X and Plato: the Path to Become Mentally Alive.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
Malcolm X and Plato: the Path to Become Mentally Alive. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2023].
Malcolm X and Plato: the Path to Become Mentally Alive [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2023 Dec 4]. Available from:
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