Explain Plato's Analogy of the Cave

Topics: Earth, Truth, World Pages: 2 (639 words) Published: October 6, 2013
Explain Plato’s Analogy of the cave. (25)
Plato uses an analogy to help describe his philosophical ideas about the physical world and the World of Forms, he attempts to use the analogy to explain the difference between the two worlds. Plato uses his analogy to explain to others why the world of appearances is nothing but an illusion. Plato believes that reality must be found in the infinite World of Forms. The cave analogy is often said to be allegorical, meaning that different elements of the story are symbolic of the situation in which people find themselves. The tied prisoners are in an illusionary world, what they think is reality, the shadows, is not reality at all. Plato is attempting to liken the prisoners to ordinary people, saying that their situation is no different to ours. Plato also has described the people in the cave as prisoners, therefore implying that the prisoners need to be set free and are trapped in an un-real situation. Plato uses several different metaphors in his analogy to help make the listener (reader) more able to understand his concept, for example, he uses the Sun as a blinding light when a prisoner from the cave reaches ‘the real world’. The prisoner’s confusion and the pain of the sunlight on his eyes gradually decrease and he is able to understand the world around him. This is a metaphor to attempt to show people the philosopher coming to terms with the new world he has now found himself in, ‘The World of Forms’ and adjusting to seeing the world differently when they recognise the ‘reality’ that forms exist. The blinding sun is to represent ‘The Good’ the form from which all other forms rely and come from. Plato chooses to use the sun as an appropriate metaphor because of one’s reliance on the Sun, to work, to live and to see. Plato uses the idea of leaving the cave and entering the outside world as a way of showing the leaving of ‘The world of appearances’ and entering ‘the world of forms.’ This is in Plato’s view ‘the...
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