Free Essay

Allegory of the Cave Paper

In: English and Literature

Submitted By skapp1226
Words 4812
Pages 20
The Allegory of the Cave is Plato's explanation of the education of the soul toward enlightenment. He sees it as what happens when someone is educated to the level of philosopher. He contends that they must "go back into the cave" or return to the everyday world of politics, greed and power struggles. The Allegory also attacks people who rely upon or are slaves to their senses. The chains that bind the prisoners are the senses. The fun of the allegory is to try to put all the details of the cave into your interpretation. In other words, what are the models the guards carry? the fire? the struggle out of the cave? the sunlight? the shadows on the cave wall? Socrates, in Book VII of The Republic, just after the allegory told us that the cave was our world and the fire was our sun. He said the path of the prisoner was our soul's ascent to knowledge or enlightenment. He equated our world of sight with the intellect's world of opinion. Both were at the bottom of the ladder of knowledge. Our world of sight allows us to "see" things that are not real, such as parallel lines and perfect circles. He calls this higher understanding the world "abstract Reality" or the Intelligeble world. He equates this abstract reality with the knowledge that comes from reasoning and finally understanding. On the physical side, our world of sight, the stages of growth are first recognition of images (the shadows on the cave wall) then the recognition of objects (the models the guards carry) To understand abstract reality requires the understanding of mathematics and finally the forms or the Ideals of all things (the world outside the cave). But our understanding of the physical world is mirrored in our minds by our ways of thinking. First comes imagination (Socrates thought little of creativity), then our unfounded but real beliefs. Opinion gives way to knowledge through reasoning (learned though mathematics). Finally, the realization of the forms is mirrored by the level of Understanding in the Ways of Thinking. The key to the struggle for knowledge is the reasoning skills acquired through mathematics as they are applied to understanding ourselves. The shadows on the cave wall change continually and are of little worth, but the reality out side the cave never changes and that makes it important. The ideals are mainly our concepts of courage, love, friendship, justice, and other unchanging qualities. I know this is a bit tricky, but it is how I see the allegory, and most of it is in the preceding and following books of the Republic. I think you should read those chapters, think about what I have said and zero in on what the allegory means to you. CAVE Plato, the most creative and influential of Socrates' disciples, wrote dialogues, in which he frequently used the figure of Socrates to espouse his own (Plato's) full-fledged philosophy. In "The Republic," Plato sums up his views in an image of ignorant humanity, trapped in the depths and not even aware of its own limited perspective. The rare individual escapes the limitations of that cave and, through a long, tortuous intellectual journey, discovers a higher realm, a true reality, with a final, almost mystical awareness of Goodness as the origin of everything that exists. Such a person is then the best equipped to govern in society, having a knowledge of what is ultimately most worthwhile in life and not just a knowledge of techniques; but that person will frequently be misunderstood by those ordinary folks back in the cave who haven't shared in the intellectual insight. If he were living today, Plato might replace his rather awkward cave metaphor with a movie theater, with the projector replacing the fire, the film replacing the objects which cast shadows, the shadows on the cave wall with the projected movie on the screen, and the echo with the loudspeakers behind the screen. The essential point is that the prisoners in the cave are not seeing reality, but only a shadowy representation of it. The importance of the allegory lies in Plato's belief that there are invisible truths lying under the apparent surface of things which only the most enlightened can grasp. Used to the world of illusion in the cave, the prisoners at first resist enlightenment, as students resist education. But those who can achieve enlightenment deserve to be the leaders and rulers of all the rest. At the end of the passage, Plato expresses another of his favorite ideas: that education is not a process of putting knowledge into empty minds, but of making people realize that which they already know. This notion that truth is somehow embedded in our minds was also powerfully influential for many centuries. A report I had to do on Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Plato was born 427 B.C. and died 347 B.C. He was a pupil under Socrates. During his studies, Plato wrote the Dialogues, which are a collection of Socrates' teachings. One of the parables included in the Dialogues is "The Allegory of the Cave". "The Allegory..." symbolizes man's struggle to reach understanding and enlightenment. First of all, Plato believed that one can only learn through dialectic reasoning and open-mindedness. Humans had to travel from the visible realm of image-making and objects of sense to the intelligible or invisible realm of reasoning and understanding. "The Allegory of the Cave" symbolizes this trek and how it would look to those still in a lower realm. Plato is saying that humans are all prisoners and that the tangible world is our cave. The things which we perceive as real are actually just shadows on a wall. Just as the escaped prisoner ascends into the light of the sun, we amass knowledge and ascend into the light of true reality: ideas in the mind. Yet, if someone goes into the light of the sun and beholds true reality and then proceeds to tell the other captives of the truth, they laugh at and ridicule the enlightened one, for the only reality they have ever known is a fuzzy shadow on a wall. They could not possibly comprehend another dimension without beholdin! g it themselves, therefore, they label the enlightened man mad. For instance, the exact thing happened to Charles Darwin. In 1837, Darwin was traveling aboard the H.M.S. Beagle in the Eastern Pacific and dropped anchor on the Galapagos Islands. Darwin found a wide array of animals. These differences in animals sparked Darwin on research, which lasted well up to his death, culminating in the publishing of The Origin of Species in 1858. He stated that had not just appeared out of thin air, but had evolved from other species through natural selection. This sparked a firestorm of criticism, for most people accepted the theory of the Creation. In this way Darwin and his scientific followers parallel the escaped prisoner. They walked into the light and saw true reality. Yet when he told the imprisoned public what he saw, he was scoffed at and labeled mad, for all the prisoners know and perceive are just shadows on a wall which are just gross distortions of reality. Darwin walked the path to understanding just like the escaped prisoner in "The Allegory of the Cave." Plato's parable greatly symbolizes man's struggle to reach the light and the suffering of those left behind who are forced to sit in the dark and stare at shadows on a wall. -- Allegory of the Cave Plato illustrates his dualistic theory of reality by his famous Allegory of the Cave, at the beginning of Book VII of the Republic. Now then, says Socrates, as he introduces the allegory, imagine mankind as living in an underground cave which has a wide entrance open to the light. Deep inside are human beings facing the inside wall of the cave, with tbeir necks and legs chained so that they cannot move. They have never seen the light of day or the sun outside the cave. Behind the prisoners a fire burns, and between the fire and prisoners there is a raised way on which a low wall lıas been built, such as is used in puppet shows as a screen to conceal the people working the puppets. Along the raised way people walk carrying all sorts of things which they hold so that they project above the wall-statues of men, animals, trees. The prisoners, facing the inside wall, cannot see one another, or the wall behind them on which the objects are being carried - all they can see are the shadows these objects cast on the wall of the cave. The prisoners live all their lives seeing only shadows of reality, and the voices they hear are only echos from the wall. But the prisoners cling to the familiar shadows and their passions and prejudices, and if they were freed and able to turn arouııd and see the realities which produce the shadows, they would be blinded by the light of the fire. And they would become angry and would prefer to regain tlıeir shadow world. But if one of the prisoners were freed and turned around to see, in the light of the fire, the cave and his feIlow prisenors and the roadway, and if he were then dragged up and out of the cave into the ligbt of the sun, he would see the the things of the world as they truly are and finally he would see the sun itself. Wlıat woııld this person think now of tlıe life in tlıe cave and what people there know of reality aııd of morality? And if he were to descend back into the cave, would he not have great difficulty in accustoming himself to the darkness, so that he could not compete with those who had never left the cave? Would he not be subject to their ridicule, scorn, even their physical attack? Of the many allegories in the history of Western thought, the Allegory of the Cave is the one most often cited. But what is an allegory? An allegory is a kind of story in which what is talked about is being compared to something else which is similar, but what that something else is, is left unstated. An allegory is accordingly defined as an incomplete simile—tlıe reader must supply what is similar to tlıe events described. What, then, is the Allegory of the Cave to be compared with? The people in the cave are living out theit lives in semidarkness, chained by their necks and legs, unable to turn around, never knowing that what they see before them on the wall of the cave are only shadows. They are in bondage, but unaware of it. They remain ignorant of them. selves and reality. With whom may they be compared? Each historical generation since Plato's time has been taııtalized by the question, how does the Allegory of the Cave apply to our time, to our society? To what may the cave be compared in our lives? The question tantalizes us too: What is the relevance of the Allegory of the Cave to our present world? With what in our lives may it be compared? THE CAVE PLATO'S THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE PLATO DESCRIBED HOW THE HUMAN MIND ACHIEVES KNOWLEDGE, AND INDICATED WHAT KNOWLEDGE CONSISTS OF BY MEANS OF; (1) HIS ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE (2) HIS METAPHOR OF THE DIVIDED LINE, AND (3) HIS DOCTRINE OF THE FORMS. THE CAVE: PLATO ASKS US TO IMAGINE SOME MEN LIVING IN A LARGE CAVE WHERE FROM CHILDHOOD THEY HAVE BEEN CHAINED BY THE LEG AND BY THE NECK SO THAT THEY CANNOT MOVE. BECAUSE THEY CANNOT EVEN TURN THEIR HEADS. THEY CAN ONLY SEE WHAT IS IN FRONT OF THEM. BEHIND THEM IS AN ELEVATION THAT RISES ABRUPTLY FROM THE LEVEL WHERE THE PRISONERS ARE SEATED. ON THIS ELEVATION THERE ARE OTHER PERSONS WALKING BACK AND FORTH CARRYING ARTIFICIAL OBJECTS INCLUDING THE FIGURES OF ANIMALS AND HUMAN BEINGS MADE OUT OF WOOD AND STONE AND VARIOUS OTHER MATERIALS. BEHIND THESE WALKING PERSONS IS A FIRE, AND FARTHER BACK STILL IS THE ENTRANCE TO THE CAVE. THE CHAINED PRISONERS CAN LOOK ONLY FORWARD AGAINST THE WALL AT THE END OF THE CAVE AND CAN SEE NEITHER EACH OTHER NOR THE MOVING PERSONS NOR THE FIRE BEHIND THEM. ALL THAT THE PRISONERS CAN EVER SEE IS THE SHADOWS ON THE WALL IN FRONT OF THEM WHICH ARE PROJECTED AS PERSONS WALK IN FRONT OF THE FIRE. THEY NEVER SEE THE OBJECTS OR THE MEN CARRYING THEM NOR ARE THEY AWARE THAT THE SHADOWS ARE SHADOWS OF OTHER THINGS. THEN THEY SEE A SHADOW AND HEAR A PERSON'S VOICE ECHO FROM THE WALL, THEY ASSUME THAT THE SOUND IS COMING FROM THE SHADOW SINCE THEY ARE NOT AWARE OF THE EXISTENCE OF ANYTHING ELSE. THESE PRISONERS THEN RECOGNIZE AS REALITY ONLY THE SHADOWS FORMED ON THE WALL. (This is us, when knowledge (light), comes to us) WHAT WOULD HAPPEN ASKS PLATO IF ONE OF THESE PRISONERS WERE RELEASED FROM HIS CHAINS, WERE FORCED TO STAND UP, TURN AROUND AND WALK WITH EYES LIFTED UP TOWARD THE LIGHT OF THE FIRE? ALL OF HIS MOVEMENTS WOULD BE EXCEEDINGLY PAINFUL. SUPPOSE HE WERE FORCED TO LOOK AT THE OBJECTS BEING CARRIED, THE SHADOWS OF WHICH HE HAD BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO SEEING ON THE WALL. WOULD HE NOT FIND THESE ACTUAL OBJECTS LESS CONGENIAL TO HIS EYES AND LESS MEANINGFUL, THAN THE SHADOWS? AND WOULD NOT HIS EYES ACHE IF HE LOOKED STRAIGHT AT THE LIGHT FROM THE FIRE ITSELF? AT THIS POINT HE WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY TRY TO ESCAPE FROM HIS LIBERATOR AN TURN BACK TO THE THINGS HE COULD SEE WITH CLARITY, BEING CONVINCED THAT THE SHADOWS WERE CLEARER THAN THE OBJECTS HE WAS FORCED TO LOOK AT IN THE FIRE-LIGHT. SUPPOSE THIS PRISONER COULD NOT TURN BACK, BUT WAS INSTEAD DRAGGED FORCIBLY UP THE STEEP AND ROUGH PASSAGE TO THE MOUTH OF THE CAVE AND OF THE RADIANCE OF THE SUN UPON HIS EYES WOULD BE SO PAINFUL THAT HE WOULD BE UNABLE TO SEE ANY OF THE THINGS THAT HE HAS NOW TOLD WERE REAL. IT WOULD TAKE SOME TIME BEFORE HIS EYES BECAME ACCUSTOMED TO THE WORLD OUTSIDE THE CAVE. HE WOULD FIRST OF ALL RECOGNIZE SOME SHADOWS AND WOULD FEEL AT HOME WITH THEM. IF IT WERE THE SHADOWS OF A MAN, HE WOULD HAVE SEEN THAT SHAPE BEFORE AS IT APPEARED ON THE WALL OF THE CAVE. NEXT HE WOULD SEE THE REFLECTIONS OF MEN AND THINGS IN THE WATER AND THIS WOULD REPRESENT A MAJOR ADVANCE IN HIS KNOWLEDGE, FOR WHAT HE ONCE KNEW ONLY AS A SOLID DARK BLUR WOULD NOW BE SEEN IN MORE PRECISE DETAIL OF LINE AND COLOR. A FLOWER MAKES A SHADOW WHICH GIVES VERY LITTLE, IF ANY INDICATION OF WHAT A FLOWER REALLY LOOKS LIKE, BUT ITS IMAGE AS REFLECTED IN THE WATER PROVIDES THE EYES WITH A CLEARED VISION OF EACH PETAL AND ITS VARIOUS COLORS. IN TIME HE WOULD SEE THE FLOWER ITSELF. AS HE LIFTED HIS EYES SKYWARD, HE WOULD FIND IT EASIER AT FIRST TO LOOK AT THE HEAVENLY BODIES AT NIGHT, LOOKING AT THE MOON AND THE STARS INSTEAD OF AT THE SUN IN DAYTIME. FINALLY, HE WOULD LOOK RIGHT AT THE SUN IN ITS NATURAL POSITIONS IN THE SKY AND NOT AT ITS REFLECTION FORM OR THROUGH ANYTHING ELSE. THIS EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCE WOULD GRADUALLY LEAD THIS LIBERATED PRISONER TO CONCLUDE THAT THE SUN IS WHAT MAKES THINGS VISIBLE. IT IS THE SUN, TOO, THAT ACCOUNTS FOR THE SEASONS OF THE YEAR, AND FOR THAT REASON THE SUN IS THE CAUSE OF LIFE IN THE SPRING, NOW HE WOULD UNDERSTAND WHAT HE AND HIS FELLOW PRISONERS SAW ON THE WALL, HOW SHADOWS AND REFLECTIONS DIFFER FROM THINGS AS THEY REALLY ARE IN THE VISIBLE WORLD, AND THAT WITHOUT THE SUN THERE WOULD BE NO VISIBLE WORLD. HOW WOULD SUCH A PERSON FEEL ABOUT HIS PREVIOUS LIFE IN THE CAVE? HE WOULD RECALL WHAT HE AND HIS FELLOW PRISONERS THERE TOOK TO BE WISDOM HOW THEY HAD A PRACTICE OF HONORING AND COMMENDING EACH OTHER, GIVING PRIZES TO THE ONE WHO HAD THE SHARPEST EYE FOR THE PASSING SHADOWS AND THE BEST MEMORY FOR THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY FOLLOWED EACH OTHER SO THAT HE COULD MAKE THE BEST GUESS AS TO WHICH SHADOW WOULD COME NEXT. WOULD THE RELEASED PRISONER STILL THINK SUCH PRIZES WERE WORTH HAVING, AND WOULD HE ENVY THE MEN WHO RECEIVED HONORS IN THE CAVE? INSTEAD OF ENVY HE WOULD HAVE ONLY SORROW AND PITY FOR THEM. IF HE WENT BACK TO HIS FORMER SEAT IN THE CAVE HE WOULD AT FIRST HAVE GREAT DIFFICULTY FOR GOING SUDDENLY FROM DAY LIGHT INTO THE CAVE WOULD FILL HIS EYES WITH DARKNESS. HE COULD NOT UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES COMPETE VERY EFFECTIVELY WITH THE OTHER PRISONERS IN MAKING OUT THE SHADOWS ON THE WALL. WHILE HIS EYESIGHT WAS STILL DIM AND UNSTEADY, THOSE WHO HAD THEIR PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN THE DARKNESS COULD WIN EVERY ROUND OF COMPETITION WITH HIM. THEY WOULD AT FIRST FIND THIS SITUATION VERY AMUSING AND WOULD TAUNT HIM BY SAYING THAT HIS SIGHT WAS PERFECTLY ALL RIGHT BEFORE HE WENT UP OUT OF THE CAVE AND THAT NOW HE HAS RETURNED WITH HIS SIGHT RUINED. THEIR CONCLUSION WOULD BE THAT IT IS NOT WORTH TRYING TO GO UP OUT OF THE CAVE. INDEED, SAYS PLATO "IF THEY COULD LAY HANDS ON THE MAN WHO WAS TRYING TO SET THEM FREE AND LEAD THEM UP THEY WOULD KILL HIM." MOST OF MANKIND, THIS ALLEGORY WOULD SUGGEST, DWELL IN THE DARKNESS OF THE CAVE. THEY HAVE ORIENTED THEIR THOUGHTS AROUND THE BLURRED WOULD OF SHADOWS. IT IS THE FUNCTION OF EDUCATION TO LEAD MEN OUT OF THE CAVE INTO THE WOULD OF LIGHT. EDUCATION IS NOT SIMPLY A MATTER OF PUTTING KNOWLEDGE INTO A PERSON'S SOUL THAT DOES NOT POSSESS IT, ANY MORE THAN VISION IS PUTTING SIGHT INTO BLIND EYES. KNOWLEDGE IS LIKE VISION IN THAT IT REQUIRES AND ORGAN CAPABLE OF RECEIVING IT. JUST AS THE PRISONER HAD TO TURN HIS WHOLE BODY AROUND IN ORDER THAT HIS EYES COULD SEE THE LIGHT INSTEAD OF THE DARKNESS; SO ALSO IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE ENTIRE SOUL TO TURN AWAY FROM THE DECEPTIVE WORLD OF CHANGE AND APPETITE THAT CAUSES A BLINDNESS OF THE SOUL, EDUCATION, THEN, IS A MATTER OF CONVERSION, A COMPLETE TURNING AROUND FROM THE WOULD OF APPEARANCE TO THE WORLD OF REALITY. THE CONVERSION OF THE SOUL, SAYS PLATO, IS "NOT TO PUT THE POWER OF SIGHT IN THE SOUL'S EYE, WHICH ALREADY HAS IT, BUT TO INSURE THAT, INSTEAD OF LOOKING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION, IT IS TURNED THE WAY IT OUGHT TO BE, "BUT LOOKING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION DOES NOT COME EASILY. EVEN THE "NOBLEST NATURES" DO NOT ALWAYS WANT TO LOOK THAT WAY, AN SO PLATO SAYS THAT THE RULERS MUST "BRING COMPULSION TO BEAR" UPON THEM TO ASCEND UPWARD FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT, SIMILARLY, THEN THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN LIBERATED FROM THE CAVE ACHIEVE THE HIGHEST KNOWLEDGE, THEY MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO REMAIN IN THE HIGHER WORLD OF CONTEMPLATION, BUT MUST BE MADE TO COME BACK DOWN INTO THE CAVE AND TAKE PART IN THE LIFE AND LABORS OF THE PRISONERS. ARGUING, AS PLATO DID, THAT THERE ARE THESE TWO WORLDS, THE DARK WORLD OF THE CAVE AND BRIGHT WORLD OF LIGHT, WAS HIS WAY OF REJECTING THE SKEPTICISM OF THE SOPHISTS. FOR PLATO KNOWLEDGE WAS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE, BUT IT WAS VIRTUALLY INFALLIBLE. WHAT MAKE KNOWLEDGE INFALLIBLE WAS THAT IT WAS BASED UPON WHAT IS MOST REAL. THE DRAMATIC CONTRAST BETWEEN THE SHADOWS, REFLECTIONS, AND THE ACTUAL OBJECTS WAS FOR PLATO THE DECISIVE CLUE TO THE DIFFERENT DEGREES TO WHICH HUMAN BEINGS COULD BE ENLIGHTENED, PLATO SAW THE COUNTERPARTS OF SHADOWS IN ALL OF HUMAN LIFE AND DISCOURSE, DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN MEN CONCERNING THE MEANING OF JUSTICE, FOR EXAMPLE, WERE THE RESULT OF EACH ONE'S LOOKING AT A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF THE REALITY OF JUSTICE, ONE PERSON MIGHT TAKE JUSTICE TO MEAN WHATEVER THE RULERS IN FACT COMMAND THE PEOPLE TO DO, ON THE ASSUMPTION THE JUSTICE HAS TO DO WITH RULES OF BEHAVIOR LAID DOWN BY THE RULER. JUST AS A SHADOW BEARS SOME RELATION TO THE OBJECT OF WHICH IT IS THE SHADOW, SO THIS CONCEPTION OF JUSTICE HAS SOME MEASURE OF TRUTH TO IT, FOR JUSTICE DOES HAVE MODES OF BEHAVIOR, AND THERE COULD BE NO SINGLE COHERENT CONCEPT OF JUSTICE IF MEN'S KNOWLEDGE OF JUSTICE WERE DERIVED FROM THE WIDE VARIETY OF EXAMPLES OF IT. THE SOPHISTS WERE SKEPTICAL ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF TRUE KNOWLEDGE BECAUSE THEY WERE IMPRESSED BY THE VARIETY AND CONSTANT CHANGE IN THINGS, AND THEY ARGUED, SINCE OUR KNOWLEDGE COMES FROM OUR EXPERIENCE, OUR KNOWLEDGE WILL REFLECT THIS VARIETY AND WILL THEREFOR BE RELATIVE TO EACH PERSON. PLATO AGREED THAT SUCH KNOWLEDGE AS IS BASED UPON OUR SENSE, EXPERIENCES WOULD BE RELATIVE AN NOT ABSOLUTE, BUT HE WOULD NOT ACCEPT THE SOPHISTS' NOTION THAT ALL KNOWLEDGE IS RELATIVE, "THE IGNORANT" (ACCEPT THE SOPHISTS) WRITES PLATO, HAVE NO SINGLE MARK BEFORE THEIR EYES AT WHICH THEY MUST AIM IN ALL THE CONDUCT OF THEIR LIVES..." IF ALL WE COULD KNOW WERE THE SHADOWS, WE COULD NEVER HAVE RELIABLE KNOWLEDGE, FOR THESE SHADOWS WOULD ALWAYS CHANGE IN SIZE AND SHAPE DEPENDING UPON, THE TO US, UNKNOWN MOTIONS OF THE REAL OBJECTS, PLATO WAS CONVINCED THAT THE HUMAN MIND COULD DISCOVER THAT, "SINGLE MARK" THAT "REAL" OBJECT BEHIND ALL THE MULTITUDE OF SHADOWS, SO THAT THE MIND COULD ATTAIN TRUE KNOWLEDGE. THERE IS HE BELIEVED A TRUE IDEA OF JUSTICE, AND IDEA THAT CAN BE BLURRED BY RULERS AND COMMUNITIES. THIS LINE OF REASONING LAY BEHIND PLATO'S DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE WORLD OF SENSE AN THE WORLD OF THOUGHT, BETWEEN THE VISIBLE WORLD AND THE INTELLIGIBLE WORLD. WHEREAS THE ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE ILLUSTRATES THESE DISTINCTIONS IN DRAMATIC TERMS, PLATO'S METAPHOR OF THE DIVIDED LINE SETS FORTH THE STAGES OR LEVELS OF KNOWLEDGE IN MORE SYSTEMATIC FORM. The second idea in tHis Allegory of the Cave2 describes how most people are trapped in their own little world, oblivious to what is really going on around them. The story is basically made up of five parts, the shadow, the fire, the common man, the ascending man, and the descending man. The shadow represents what is perhaps Plato's most difficult philosophy to understand. The idea of "forms" was an original idea of Plato that has held up under the scrutiny of many until even the present day. According to Plato, things you can see, feel, or touch for example, a chair, are not a genuine article, but merely a shadow of the real thing. He believed that these forms existed in parallel somewhere, and had was the essence of the real thing. For example, the form of a chair exists somewhere, and embodies everything that all chairs have in common. It doesn't mean that we can describe it, because not all chairs have four legs, or any legs for that matter. Not all chairs are meant to be sat in, or have arms. What does every chair have in common? No one can fully answer that question. When stated like this it can easily be understood, but when someone asks what all chairs have in common, or what all windows have in common, the idea of this "form" becomes cloudy because these questions can not be answered. The same can said about a truly just decision, or an action . He believed the same about ideas, such as truth and he Allegory of the Cave is the common man. According to Plato, they represent all people before they are fully educated. The common man sees nothing but the shadows on the wall of the cave. These shadows represent everything that we have ever seen, and since they are the only things we have ever seen, they constitute all that is real to us. Being fully educated involves the ability to see everything, including all that is outside the cave. The third part, the fire, is merely there to shed light on the forms, casting a shadow into the cave. Thus creating the only reality that the common man sees. The fourth part is the ascending man. This is the one man who manages to emerge from the cave that shelters the common man. Once he comes out, he finally understands the forms, and becomes fully educated. He sees that the shadows only hinted at the truth of reality. The fire can give you a vague idea of what the reality of things are, but until you surface, then you only see the "shadow" of reality. The final part is the descending man. He's the person who came out of the cave and became enlightened. He's on his way back to tell the others what he's learned, and try to get them to understand that there really is more to life than the shadows that everyone sees. The story that basically tells us of Socrates trial by his "peers" because of what he saw that they could not. The man in the cave tried to return to the cave after being released, so that they might experience some of the beauty that he was allowed to view. He was murdered for his attempts to persuade. Truly in our times we have many freedoms including that of free speech. But our taking advantage of those freedoms, not using them for positive thought, puts us in that cave. The only way to release ourselves from the malaise or bonds of everyday lives, is to attempt to see every situation or thought as valuable in some way. We owe it to philosophers to at least give their beliefs an honest evaluation without condemning them. We all know what exists outside the cave. The people in the cave however, truly believe that the man allowed to leave was psychotic when he told them of what he had seen. But the true psychotics were the men who killed to prove their dogma. “The Allegory of the Cave” and “Existentialism” Plato’s, “The Allegory of the Cave” and Sartre’s, “Existentialism” both have a similarity of anguish but have different views of goodness, subjectivism and limitations of life, and human existence. In the “Allegory of the Cave,” the people in the cave are chained to see just the shadows on the wall to which they perceive to be real. As one of these prisoners escapes, they walk into the light to find that what he once saw in the cave was actually just an illusion of what the truth is. In “Existentialism,” there is no God so every man is free to make their own choices and give their own meaning of life; however, the choices men make are what they consider all men to do, causing men to be responsible of their actions. Anguish is a similarity in both essays because both the escaped prisoner in the “Allegory of the Cave” and all men in “Existentialism” have a moral responsibility to their fellow man. The escaped prisoner is responsible for going back and informing the rest of the captives of what he saw. He has to explain to them that the ultimate reality is not the shadows on the wall but what is seen once you’re in the light. He then experiences anguish because the captives will not believe him. The essay states that: “Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death” (p. 1185). The cave is their world and what they see is their truth. The escaped prisoner is now an outsider and suffers because the other captives could not comprehend that what they are really seeing is just a bad distortion of reality. In “Existentialism,” man experiences anguish because he would not be able to get away from his responsibility of his actions and his choices because the decisions he makes not only affects him but those around him too. The narrator states that: “Every man ought to say to himself, ‘Am I really the kind of man who has the right to act in such a way that humanity might guide itself by my actions?’ And if he does not say that to himself, he is masking his anguish” (p. 1292). Every man experiences anguish because they have the freedom of choice but the responsibility of all men.

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

...------------------------------------------------- PLATO’S ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE ------------------------------------------------- (flow of events) Plato's allegory of the cave describes a group of prisoners living in a dark cave. They are bound in chains preventing them from moving easily. Being stuck in the same place and position all the time, they have nothing to do but stare at the wall in front of them. A fire casts a light against that wall on a platform in the cave. While people on the outside of the cave go their own business, the objects they carry cast unclear shadows on the wall. As a result, the prisoners in the cave spend their time trying to figure out what the shadows represent, assuming that sounds from the outside came from the shadows themselves. One day, a prisoner was dragged outside from his restraints by force. He was disoriented and confused when he saw the outside world for the first time. As time went by, he began to see the brilliance of the world and returned to the cave to tell the other prisoners about what he saw. His fellow prisoners think that he has gone crazy and lost his mind, rather than being relieved to hear of what else the world holds. Since they only know life within the confines of the cave, they assume that is all there is to life. ------------------------------------------------- ELEMENTS Cave - represents the physical world of illusions in which most people live. Shadows on the wall - symbolize the assumptions and......

Words: 710 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Socrates 'Allegory Of The Cave'

...Allegory of the Cave The allegory of the cave revolves around a conversation between Socrates and Glaucon, who was Socrates’ student (Pearcy). Plato designed “Allegory of the Cave” as a theory to concentrate on human perception (Trumpeter). Plato refers to knowledge being acquired by the senses as an opinion, but that real knowledge is attained by philosophical reasoning. Plato describes the difference between people who can not differentiate between sensory knowledge to reach the truth and people that actually see the truth. In order for Plato to explain his theory of “Allegory of the Cave” he divides it into five main points: the cave, the shadows, the game, the escape, and the return. In this paper, I will explain and decipher all five...

Words: 1048 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

...Plato's Allegory of the Cave is a tale of truth and reality versus ignorance. It is an analyzation of human perception and can be applied to modern life. Allegory of the Cave also presents the difference of being closed minded versus being open minded. It shows the advantages gained to those who are open minded. It also presents the disadvantages and how ignorant one sounds when one is closed minded. Plato's Allegory of the Cave takes place in a dark cave. There are prisoners in shackles with something in place to keep their heads from turning. They are basically forced to only look in one direction. Behind the prisoners there is a fire and a runway where showmen can place items such as vases. The fire casts shadows on the walls the prisoners are facing and they play a game. They begin to guess what the shadows are and those who get the most right are considered to be the smartest people of the group. These prisoners know nothing but what is casted in front of them. To these prisoners, they are not shadows of objects but real objects themselves as they have no reality. Out of the group, one prisoner is freed and allowed to venture. He begins to look at the fire, the statues, and treys to comprehend everything. After direct sunlight to his eyes he is pained and confused. In that moment, being released might have seemed like the worst thing possible to that prisoner. Being utterly confused is frustrating and the pain of turning his head and staring at direct sunlight is......

Words: 1522 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

Allegoy of Cave

...” The Allegory of the Cave” In “Allegory of the Cave” by Plato tells the story about the reality that comes forth through knowledge and the willingness for man to seek the truth. The Allegory of the Cave is a deep philosophical scenario that is being described by Plato in a form of a progressive conversation, which begins with Socrates having a factious conversation with is brother. The hypothesis behind his analogy is the essential principles that all we watch are imperfect impression of the conclusive structures, which implies the truth. This is portrayed as glorified feeling of what goodness and justice are. At the point when the prisoners leave the cave, Socrates explain that these are philosopher who have arrived at a comprehension of what life truly is. The three symbols are the cave, the sun, and the chains. The Allegory of the Cave all through the story the prisoners are restrained to the floor and are not able to move their legs and turn their head to view behind them. They had a fire burning behind them, and they saw shadows of people walking by carrying odd object. These shadows were all they knew they even seemed to be real. The individuals they see are the realities of life. To me, this is practically precise portrayal of life, and proceeds with progression of time. “ When educators instruct information into the soul which was not there before like sight into blind eyes”(1238). A prisoner breaks free and leaves the cave. When he first walks outside...

Words: 981 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Plato and Media

...In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, prisoners have spent their entire lives chained inside a cave. They are chained so that they cannot see behind themselves while solely staring at the cave wall in front of them. There is a fire burning behind them and between the prisoners and the fire are objects that create shadows on the wall. A prisoner is released and has to adjust to the blinding light. After learning that there are object which create the shadows and not just the shadows themselves the prisoner goes back to the cave to tell the others. The other prisoners are unable to understand what he is speaking of because the shadows on the wall are the only thing they know to be “real”. Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” can be compared to a number of different contemporary mediums at various levels. Exploring how an ancient text can be compared to modern media helps us to connect the similarities while there is a growth in technology. In this paper I am going to be analyzing Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” and advertisement to see how they compare and contrast. In advertising, we are tricked into believing what we see in the advertisement which may not be entirely real. This connects to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” in that the shadows that the prisoners see on the wall are all they are supposed to know but are not what is “real”. With advertisements, consumers can explore the product being advertised and find out the truth about the product and whether it can be beneficial for...

Words: 512 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Writing Papers

...the assumption that I would only have to compose simple paragraph papers while also learning the ropes of grammatical writing. I was sadly mistaken. Through the semester Josh gave the class five writing assignments. They ranged from three to five pages long. Out of all the writing assignments I received my favorite was a four page paper I had to write an allegory of myself. My least favorite was a five page paper the whole class had to write. About mid semester, when my hand only had a tingle, Josh lectured about Plato’s “A Allegory of the Cave.” Thus giving me my next challenging task he had in store. I had to compose an allegory of myself while explaining the concept of the Plato’s allegory. I had to dissect the symbolism in Plato’s allegory and prove how it coincided with my own allegory. What made this objective so interesting, yet so strenuous was the fact that my allegory had to be based upon a difficult time I have had in my life. My essay was littered with very detailed descriptors of my dreadful situation and Plato’s allegory. That is why this particular essay was my favorite. I8 was able to take a seemingly arduous task and break it down, in my own words, so that a reader would be able to comprehend “The Allegory of the Cave,” and still be able to relate to my allegory. The last essay due came just before my hand fell off. Before the class took our final exam we were obligated to write a five page paper as a whole. Josh told us we had to accomplish the task......

Words: 611 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Theory of the Forms

...Theory of the Forms and the Sensible World This paper will discuss the relationship between the knowledge of the forms and opinion about the sensible world. After describing the sensible world, Socrates brings up a new concept about how this world should be ruled. This paper will argue that because philosophy kings have knowledge about the forms they are better rulers of the sensible world, rather than sight-lovers. This paper is divided into two phases, each showing how Socrates has used the theory of the forms. Philosopher Kings and Sight Lovers: The idea of philosophy kings first comes up in Book V of the Republic at 473d. Socrates claims that the sensible world can only exist once kings, or those who rule practice philosophy. As Socrates is saying this, he himself realizes how his statement is somewhat radical. This radical claim by Socrates leads him to distinguish the difference between philosophy kings and sight lovers using the theory of the forms. At 476b (Rep. V), Socrates says that the lovers of sights only like beautiful characteristics such as shapes and sounds. Socrates argues that these individuals don’t see the underlying beauty. Although not explicitly mentioned, at this point, Socrates is using the theory of forms to distinguish philosophers and sight lovers. For sight-lovers, beauty is on a comparative basis; say for example “A” has beautiful features once it is observed alone. Once we compare “A” with all things beautiful, it may not posses the beauty it......

Words: 1478 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Comparing the Matrix and Allegory of the Cave

...The Illusion of Reality: A Comparison of The Matrix and Plato’s Cave The poet Thomas Gray coined the phrase “Ignorance is bliss.” The phrase states that a lack of knowledge results in happiness and that people are more comfortable if they don’t know something. We can apply this phrase to utopias and dystopias and get this scenario: imagine living in a utopic society isolated from the true dystopic world. Would you want to know that you are living a false life and that the true world around you has been hidden? If you had this information, how would you react? This scenario is the basic premise for the Wachowski brother’s The Matrix Trilogy and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Both stories show humans perceiving a false utopic society that is being used to blind them from the true dystopic world. Over the course of this paper I will describe the similarities between The Matrix and the Allegory of the Cave and analyze how the Wachowskis and Plato used the ideas of utopias and dystopias as a backdrop for showing human nature. In The Matrix, humans have been enslaved by sentient machines, or sentinels, to be used as energy sources. In order to subdue the human population, the sentinels built a virtual world known as the Matrix. What each person thinks is reality, is actually a complex computer simulation. The Matrix simulates a “utopic” world where humans believe that they have freedom and choice and that their actions have a consequence on this “real” world. In reality, the...

Words: 1238 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Allegory of the Cave

...101 Michael Candelaria Philosophy Midterm Paper What does the allegory of the cave suggest about the nature of education? The allegory of the cave is supposed to be a metaphor for the world we are living in. That finding this truth or overall good is how people will be able to gain the most knowledge. Socrates is explaining to his student, Glaucon, how he believes it’s our own ignorance of goodness and truth that will prevent a man from gaining this nature of education. What Socrates fails to mention in my own opinion is how this allegory supports a role in the nature of education. In my essay I want to go over what my interpretations are of this allegory and how it’s structured to represent our learning throughout our life. This will lead to my argument explaining how irrelevant this metaphor is simply because it is an allegory. For my second argument I will mention how I disagree with Socrates views on the nature of our education. For the last part of my argument, I want to go over what I believe is also involved with the nature of our education, not being just the “Good”. I want to briefly go over what exactly this allegory represents to me. By establishing my understanding towards what the allegory means, I can hopefully strengthen my future points that I am making. It is obvious that Plato structured this allegory to represent the divided line that separates what we know from our senses and our mind. The allegory isn’t just four stages of the divided......

Words: 1756 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Plato's Cave and the Matrix

...Plato’s account of the experience of the prisoner who is freed from his chains in The Republic. Do you agree with Morpheus in the Matrix that most people prefer to remain in the prisons of their minds? Please show evidence that you have carefully read the primary text(s) and viewed the film clip(s). The intent of this paper is to display the scope of the question “what is reality?” in relation to Plato’s arguments in ‘The Republic’ and the theories and inferences put forth in the film ‘The Matrix’. I will discuss the extent to which reality may be more than what appears ‘real’ to us, and I will also address the logic behind the human desire for security through examination my own thought processes. In the Plato’s Cave scenario in The Republic, the prisoner who is freed from his shackles is taken from his own world, the world as he has always known it and lead to enlightenment through the discovery of a new, better world. He is coming from a place where he is happy in his knowledge of his surroundings. When he is shown the world as it really is, he is leaving what he once believed was the only version of reality. He is shown that what he has experienced in the Cave was governed by other forces. As people, we are both enlightened and unenlightened on this matter. What is to say that we are not the prisoner? We are perfectly happy to live in the state in which we find ourselves right now, so thoughts of leaving our secure reality can be daunting. Could we not be figuratively......

Words: 875 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

General

...Anh Nguyen PHI 111-112 Assignment #2 Essay 1: What is your belief about ultimate reality? In this position paper, the worldview that I find the most persuasive is metaphysical naturalism. I realized that I am a naturalist that believes the nature is all that exist. Therefore, that all things supernatural (including God, spirits, souls and non-natural values) do not exist. Naturalists hold that all minds, the contents, powers, and effect of minds that are entirely constructed from or caused by natural phenomena. Following to argument from physical minds, scientists have many evidences that the human mind is a product of a functioning brain, which is entirely constructed from different interacting physical systems that evolved over time through the animal kingdom. In addition, mental and physical have a close relationship, so it means there is no mental happens that does not go with physical. Therefore, it is impossible to say that there are some souls and God exist. And, this argument is what we would expect if naturalism is true. According to argument from history of science, there is a single theme unifying the history of science, it is that naturalistic (non-supernatural) explanation work. The history of science has many examples of naturalistic explanations; however, there is no example’s supernatural explanations about naturalistic. Luckily, the naturalistic explanation is so successful that even these explanations also make scientific theists have to accept.......

Words: 1876 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Plato’s Cave

...on Plato’s cave Plato was one of the followers of Socrates. The most famous dialogue called “The republic” describes his perfect world that is utopia. He believes that the physical world is illusion and knowledge is directed towards the good thing around the world. “Allegory of the cave ” found in the republic and appearances the theory of forms, that is explains life as composed of two worlds. The physical world is known thorough our experience or sense, and mental world is know though your imagination or mind. According to Plato’s cave theory, the story was written about 2400 years ago. There are groups of prisoner living in a black cave, who cannot move or leave the cave, because they were locked in that cave. Therefore, these people do not have any opportunity to feel the real world and all they see was just the image of the shadow. Accidentally, one of them escaped the chains and had a chance to get out of the cave. He realize that the real world contain lots of unknown things such as sun, moon etc. Finally, he went back to cave and tell the prisoner what was the real world look like, but everyone was unexpected and totally think that people was stupid than before. They are trying to kill that people who leave the cave. By reading this story, I would like to talk about some point of views about this article. I think all human beings should not always believe what they see, because seeing is not always true. For example, prisoners were living in the cave. They saw......

Words: 516 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Managerial Philosophy

...underpin Machiavellian & Platonic philosophies. In this paper I will discuss the assumptions which underpin Machiavellian & Platonic philosophies in reference to The Republic and The Prince. My position is that both Machiavallian and Plantonic philosophies make assumptions in exemplifying their notions. Machiavelli’s is intentional while Plato’s is unintentional. Also both philosophies through their assumptions sometimes contradict each other. Well expressed In discussing his notion above it is important to understand the basic theory and ideas of Machiavelli and Plato. Both Machiavelli and Plato produce arguments for order in the state but they have different notions of how to go about order. Plato obsesses with certainty and has an ideal form of order, while order with Machiavelli is learning to live with uncertainty. Machiavelli believes we need to be able to work with insecurity and not try and produce certainty. He believes we embrace uncertainty by developing our own armour. Knowledge is the basis of leadership for Plato while Power is the basis of leadership for Machievelli. In the Republic the Allegory of the Cave represents Plato's views on philosophy. Basically, we are all in the cave and Philosophy is what brings us out of the cave. Plato believes that Philosophy is the highest form of inquiry, just because it alone involves no presuppositions. I do not believe this to be true because The Allegory presents, in brief form most of Plato's major......

Words: 1025 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Phil 201

...be so similar? It is the intent of this paper to compare and contrast these questions in relation to the movie The Matrix. The main thing that stands out for each one of these is the question of the reality of the world in which we live. Our sense of being is called into question in each of these examples. Are our senses correct or are we simply living in a dream world that is made up? The Matrix is a computer system that has taken control of peoples everyday lives. Each individual is hooked up to this computer that generates a dream world where everyone believes that they are actually living a realistic life. In the Matrix Morpheus a leader of a group of people who have rebelled against this system come to the knowledge that they are not living real lives. In his recruitment Morpheus meets with Neo and attempts to show him the truth. Learning this Neo sees that what you can see, touch and feel are not exactly real, their senses have betrayed them. In the excerpt from Descartes he makes several statements which also question the reality in which our perceptions believe we are actually living. Descartes states that, “let us suppose, then, that we are dreaming, and that all these particulars namely, the opening of the eyes, the motion of the head, the forth putting of the hands, are merely illusions; and even that we really possess neither an entire body nor hands such as we see (Descartes’).” In the Allegory of the Cave excerpt from Plato, Socrates speaks of......

Words: 755 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Fahrenheit 451: An Analysis

...has experienced. Plato illustrates that once one has been enlightened, it is his or her job to help in the enlightenment of others, “Then it is the task of us founders,” I said, “to compel the best natures to attain that learning which we said was the greatest, both to see the good, and to ascend that ascent; and when they have ascended and properly seen, we must never allow them what is allowed now,” (Plato). The others laugh at him and act as though he is the odd one out. He has been enlightened, and attempts to convince the others to leave the cave with him. This illustrates that some people either do not want to know the truth, or that they choose the easy path. Sometimes knowing the truth can harm someone. Plato describes people that do not choose to leave their cave, saying, “I don’t see how they could see anything else…if they were compelled to keep their heads unmoving all their lives!” (Plato). The people in the cave looking at the shadows have grown up in that “ignorance,” believing that the shadows they have seen are reality-- the shadows are the actual animals, objects, and people. What they see is all they believe, and they do not wish to experience the reality outside. They choose ignorance, and the safety of the...

Words: 1673 - Pages: 7