Allegory of the Cave Plato's Term Paper

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The discrepancy between the ideal and the real and the difficulty of arriving at the truth through deduction and induction is something that everyone must grapple with who deals with the ethics of a profession, like accounting. "Prisoners may learn what a book is by their experience with shadows of books. But they would be mistaken if they thought that the word 'book' refers to something that any of them has ever seen" (Cohen 2006). The ideal of how a corporation should behave and keep its books will invariably fall short of the reality, as the sloppiness of every day life, the new challenges posed by a dynamic business environment, and deliberate and accidental misinterpretations of the rules cause a deviation from the ideal, abstract forms that the reality is supposed to correspond to, Platonically.

There is a critical distinction between an accountant and a philosopher like Socrates, though. On some level Plato believed that it was possible to be unchained from the rock, the material existence, and to spiritually transcend the limits of one's existence and enter the world of the forms. Unfortunately, no one who still believes in the value of the real world has such a luxury. He or she must deal with the limits and demands of reality, and the frustrations of the fact that reality will never perfectly correspond to the ideal.

Like a philosopher, of course, an accountant must learn deductive reasoning.
He or she will learn the basic principles of accounting in school, apply those principles first to abstract problems, then to case studies in a text book, and then to the real world. A good student will embark upon his or her course of labor knowing that what was learned in a textbook will be different when dealing with the needs of different clients, in different situations. The encounters with the real world will remind him or her of the ideal, but they will invariably fall short, or be more blurry in their correspondence to those ideals.

Ethically speaking, ideals are always important to keep in mind. There are certain ethical standards, like transparency, accordance with the law, and the duty to the public, the company shareholders, and the ethical codes of one's profession that must be obeyed, as well as the needs and desires of the client. But a lack of correspondence between the ideal and the real is never a cause for despair, it should be a call for action, and if an accountant 'checked out' of reality, and entered into the world of the forms as Socrates aspires, he or she would not be effective.

Works Cited

Cohen, S. Marc. (17 Mar 2008). The Allegory of the Cave. History of Ancient Philosophy. Retrieved 19 Apr 20008 at http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/cave.htm.....

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