Philosophy & Ethics
14 October 2010
The Allegory of the Cave and The Matrix
Book VII of The Republic begins with Socrates’ “Allegory of the Cave.” The purpose of this allegory is to “make an image of our nature in its education and want of education” in other words, it illustrates Socrates’ model of education. In addition, the allegory corresponds perfectly to the analogy of the divided line. However, this Cave Analogy is also an applicable theme in modern times, for example, the movie, The Matrix, is loosely based off the Allegory.
The cave is underground and dark; it consists of human beings who have been living down there since childhood. These people are almost like prisoners since they are chained to a wall and, due to their chains, face one direction. In front of these people, is a wall and behind them is a fire. Objects are placed in front of the fire to project shadows on to the wall. However, the captive people do not realize that they are only seeing shadows of objects, they perceive the shadows to be reality since their entire life they have only see the shadows.
Socrates then proposes the scenario that a prisoner is free and able to stand up and turn around. There is also a person there to guide him and show him the objects that cast the shadows. Yet, the captive would not even be able to recognize the objects since he believes that the shadows are real. Next, the person would be inclined to look at the fire, which would in turn be so brilliant that it would blind him and force him to look back at the shadows. Then if someone forced the person out of the cave, he would be angry since it would be such a painful experience, mostly due to the sheer brilliance of the sun. Even though it is painful, the prisoner would eventually get used to the real world. He will be able to identify the object that made the shadows on the cave wall. The prisoner will reach the point where he or she will be able to...