Free «Plato and Kafka's Views on Values/Truth» Essay Sample

Ethical values are essential for peaceful coexistence. In fact, the lack of ethical values would lead to an increase in chaos between the people who share different ideologies. Owing to the fact that the modern world encompasses a large deal of cultural diversity, it is imperative to maintain values, such as good, truth, and justice among other virtues. Most of Plato’s teachings are centered on the importance of these ethical values and what dictates one’s nature in relation to his/her moral stances. On the other hand, Franz Kafka emphasizes the importance of ethical values and some societal interpretations of the same. Through his multiple forms of literature, one can comprehend the author’s position on moral values. In spite of the differences used to convey the principles of ethics, there are multiple similarities between Plato and Franz Kafka, the ideologies presented by both philosophers are intentioned to convey a similar message of upholding moral standards with regard to truth and other values.

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Most of Plato’s arguments and teachings are based on the importance of values, such as good, truth, and beauty. As such, one is justified to claim that he mainly centered on the importance of maintaining ethical values regardless of the immediate situation. Based on the aspect of objectivism, Plato explained that, “it is essential for rational human beings to maintain a conservative nature in ethical dilemmas” (Lodge). According to Plato, “objective values are those that are based on the outside of an individual’s personality and are independent of self-beliefs and perceptions” (Lodge, 102). As a result, Plato maintained that ethical values and truth are independent of anyone’s culture. In simple terms, culture should not be used to defend flaws in ethical practices or unlawful actions. Plato argued that behavior of the human beings concerning truth and virtues was confined to one’s personality, time, and space.

It is worth acknowledging that Plato’s perspective of good implied compromising one’s humanity so as to maintain ethical values. It can be seconded by his teachings on politics and ethos of the Athenian city. Owing to the fact that Plato maintained morality was not a result of culture or religious beliefs, this implied that it was a matter of personal will rather than compulsion. As a result, acting unethically is one’s choice and could not be tied to beliefs upheld by a certain society. According to Plato, “self-denial is essential in an event of maintaining ethical values” (Lodge 193). As much as one is justified to claim that this gesture is beneficial to moral behavior and peaceful coexistence, it is worth acknowledging the fact that basing someone’s actions on a particular doctrine limits rationality causing people to make decisions that might be detrimental not only to themselves but also to the people they seek to protect through the course of their actions.


Unlike Plato, Kafka had a different method of conveying his teachings on ethical values. It is largely attributed to the fact that literature was used as the primary method of expressing his ethical messages. For instance, the popular title Metamorphosis is a perfect example of how the author utilizes literature to put across essential messages on moral principles and the essence of upholding these principles in the challenging situations. In Kafka’s perspective, “maintenance of ethical values is imperative as it enables one to maintain his or her humanity regardless of the challenges they might encounter” (Ian and Kafka 102). With this in mind, the action of the protagonist in Metamorphosis turning into an insect is rather humorous and astonishing. Nonetheless, the events transpiring after this incident give a wide explanation of how people compromise ethical values when confronted with challenges. In fact, the entire story is based on the family’s reaction to the challenge and how they lowly regarded their once valued relative.

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Kafka maintains that, “ethical values are largely dependent on a person’s immediate environment and the circumstances they are compelled to go through” (Kafka and Ian 126). He explains that, “people often act in their selfish interest and often have a low regard for other people’s feelings or perceptions” (Kafka and Ian 121). The aspect is clearly revealed in the title A Report to an Academy and the earlier mentioned form of literature. In simple terms, people’s will on collective ethics can be bent in accordance with what they are subjected to and the outcome of the decisions they make. As a result, it is clear that Kafka’s teachings on truth and virtues are not based on a certain aspect of religion, culture or relationships with other people. Rather, they focus on personal gain and the impact of the environment. Contrary to the conservative teachings advocated by Plato, Kafka reveals the influence of other aspects concerning personal actions and beliefs.

Similarities between the Ideologies

Plato and Kafka have a belief that ethical values are imperative for the maintenance of peaceful coexistence. Primarily, most of Plato’s teachings were based on the essence of moral action and the consequences of its deficiency. According to Lodge, Plato believed that human beings have the capacity of forming concepts infinitely (138). Consequently, ethical values act as a regulator to how they initiate the concepts formed. Lack of these values implies that any society would be inhabitable. This assertion is backed up by the ideologies conveyed in Kafka’s literary works. For instance, in Metamorphosis, the author explains the predicament Gregor is compelled to undergo because of compromised ethics from his family members. It is largely attributed to the fact that the author ridicules the level of absurdity people are likely to allow their loved ones to endure regardless of their moral beliefs. The two philosophers sought to convey a common message on the importance of ethical values and the impacts of its absence.

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Additionally, Plato and Kafka share a belief on the impact of the environment and other life aspects in the moral beliefs of an individual. As mentioned earlier, Plato believed that human beings have a dual conception of reality. In most cases, some people perceive life situations differently resulting to high levels of diversity in the world. Consequently, individuals might be tempted to compromise their beliefs for what other people think is essential (Lodge 193). In this case, the environment played a major role in the transformation of people’s perspective. Similarly, Kafka believes that the outcome of one’s fate can compel another person to act unethically or in his/her selfish interests. In Gregor’s story, his family members perceive their relative differently, and they do not accord him the respect they once did when he provided for them. Additionally, they are relieved by his death, and they even save some money to get a new apartment. The event enables one to appreciate the impact complicated situations produce on the moral beliefs of an individual.

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Finally, Kafka and Plato maintain that culture and religion do not determine the ethical values one is likely to maintain in any situation. According to Lodge, human perception is limited by time and space (193). Based on this, the immediate environment compels people to override their initial moral beliefs and act by the proximate situation. Precisely, the divine line he proposes to comprehend truth is based on personal interpretations and not what cultural aspects compel one to do. Consequently, religious and cultural beliefs do not determine the levels of an individual’s ethical beliefs. Rather, choices of the individual are based on the interpretation one has about the particular situation. Correspondingly, Kafka’s literature proposes a similar ideology. Precisely, people choose the way they act based on their interpretations of life situations. In simple terms, when a certain decision seems to be inefficient on the first trial, it is most probable that human beings would go contrary to what they believe in to secure their welfare at the expense of other people (Kafka and Ian 129). As such, culture and religion do not determine an individual’s ethical values.

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Differences between the Presented Ideologies

Aside from the similarities between Plato and Kafka, it is worth mentioning that there exist some differences in their beliefs. Primarily, Plato believed that ethical values are highly essential and one ought to sacrifice part of their lives to accommodate moral values. Precisely, he argued that it was right for someone to deny themselves their humanity in place of ethical procedures (Lodge 210). Nonetheless, Kafka did not share this ideology. In fact, most of his literary works showed multiple instances where people traded ethical values for their survival. For instance, Gregor’s family avoided the inconveniences he created, and this led to his death. It is worth mentioning that they somewhat traded his life for their happiness. As a result, one is justified to claim that Plato and Kafka had a conflicting stance on the importance of ethical values concerning personal happiness and humanity.

Moreover, the aspect of morality being internally based on one’s character and acceptance is different in these two cases. Plato maintains that for people to maintain the pleasant moral character, they ought to have the will to do so and must be ready to compromise part of the things they value. In fact, he upholds that nearly every ethical decision made by an individual is based on his/her ability to accept his/her character. With this claim, Plato counters the aspect of the environment and other aspects that influence behavior contributing to one’s ethical behaviors. On the other hand, Kafka believes that people’s ethical character and beliefs are based on the situation they are exposed to and their ability to counter any opposition that might emerge from this situation (Kafka 125). It is largely accredited to the fact that characters in most of his literary works are depicted as individuals with flexible personalities. As a result, one is not justified to claim that a person’s ethical beliefs are dependent on their acceptance and characters.

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In conclusion, the role of ethical values in peaceful coexistence is indispensable. In fact, if a society lacks moral principles, putting up with other people would be challenging. Plato and Kafka share similar thoughts on the importance of truth and moral virtue. They emphasize that the latter is the commencement of living in harmony and lack of the former can compromise how people live with one another. In fact, it is improbable to determine the success of a society if moral principles are not properly upheld. Through literature, Kafka reveals the essence of moral values in dealing with challenging life situations. On the other hand, Plato’s teachings have an equal insight in the same. As such, it is essential to uphold moral values in response to any challenging situation. In cases where there is an ethical dilemma, it is advisable to utilize both moral principles and rationality. As for Kafka’s forms of literature, it is clear that one does not need to have a high ethical profile to act morally since situational occurrences can compromise one’s ethical values. Nonetheless, in spite of the challenges that might compel one to go against moral values and truth, it is essential to do one’s best to ensure that the maintenance of ethical principles is upheld.

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