Allegory of the Cave

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Allegory of the Cave

By | Feb. 2013
Page 1 of 3
Julie Slomczenski
Instructor Mark Huston
Phil 243
29 January 2013
The allegory of The Cave is an attempt to show that what we are seeing are reflections, abstractions, and illusions. What we have believed in are not the real thing and never have been, but because we've acknowledged them for so long, it's hard for us to accept it in any other way. Plato's allegory of The Cave is a symbol for the contrasts between ideas and what we perceive as reality. Plato argues that we are the “cave slaves.” We live in a world of shadows, where we don't see the reality of ideas. However, it is possible to climb out of the cave, to be released from our shackles, but the process is painful. When the "cave slaves" climb from the cave and we see the world for how it should be, we see that ideas are eternal and perfect even though the physical world crumbles.

It is easiest to see it in modern day metaphors through various films. There are two modern day examples of Plato’s cave allegory that jump to my mind. The first example is "The Wizard of Oz". When Dorothy went to go see Oz, it is only through having the curtain pulled back that we see things for what they really are. The second modern day example is "The Matrix." In the Matrix, it is only through being 'unplugged' that one can realize what is the matrix and what is reality. The matrix is a created visualization of reality that we see, but we don't realize that it is just an interpretation of the computer data shown to us. It is a virtual image cast on the wall of our minds. It’s all we've ever known, and so real that we don't know that it isn't reality, that there something outside of our world, something beyond The Cave.

Another modern day example could be the government. People expect the government to look out for its people, but in reality, they have no such obligation. They are the most adaptable members of a society, more capable than others of controlling everybody else. If someone else came along who was...
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