Plato the Cat

Last time I wrote a post about the second painting I did in my lifetime – Berkeley the Cat.

This time I am going to talk about my very first painting, which is also the first painting in my feline Philosopher series.


This painting – Plato the Cat – was completed in 2011 prior to Berkley the Cat. At that time I wanted to paint something but I was not sure what to paint and where to start. And then a spark of idea went through my mind and I decided to combine the two things I like – Cats and Philosophy – and created the feline Philosopher series.

So far there are only two philosophers – Plato and Berkeley – featured in this feline series, however, I do have plenty of ideas on who and what to paint next, except that the ideas are all over the place in my mind at the moment and I have not decided on how to express these ideas with colours, shapes and strokes.

The core idea of my feline Philosopher series is to express a philosophical concept of a philosopher implicitly in the painting I create, and in which the philosopher is represented by a figure of a cat.

In Plato the Cat, Plato is a thinking cat, just like the famous ancient Greek philosopher Plato. It desires a perfect world. It desires wisdom. It not only desires to understand the nature of the world, but it also desires to discover the reality and to see the truth.

Plato the Cat is peering the outside world. It no longer wants to be trapped in the forest and in darkness, it desires freedom, it desires to follow the sunlight and see the real world, so today it decided to leave its habitation, that is, its cave, Plato’s Cave.

Remember the Allegory of the Cave?

It is a parable presented by Plato in one of his most famous literary works – the Republic.


The Allegory of the Cave, as outlined in the Wikipedia entry,

“Plato has Socrates describe 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 by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato’s Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.”

plato_1 There are many interpretations of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

Some interpret the story in the context relevant to the ancient world; some interpret it in the context of the modern world; some interpret it in relation to heaven and earth, in the context of religion.

In my painting, Plato the Cat is a thinking cat and it often talks to itself. It has considered all the interpretations of the Allegory of the Cave and it decided to leave its cave and step into the unknown world.

Here is an excerpt from the text which is worth to ponder upon.

“Any one who has common sense will remember that the bewilderments of the eyes are of two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light, which is true of the mind’s eye, quite as much as of the bodily eye; and he who remembers this when he sees any one whose vision is perplexed and weak, will not be too ready to laugh; he will first ask whether that soul of man has come out of the brighter light, and is unable to see because unaccustomed to the dark, or having turned from darkness to the day is dazzled by excess of light. And he will count the one happy in his condition and state of being, and he will pity the other; or, if he have a mind to laugh at the soul which comes from below into the light, there will be more reason in this than in the laugh which greets him who returns from above out of the light into the den.”
– the Republic, Book VII, by Plato

Going into the light is not easy. Let’s wish Plato the Cat all the best with its journey to the unknown world. Bon voyage!


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