Plato, Allegory Cave

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Comprehending the Mind's Aging Eye

"The Allegory of the Cave," by Plato, explains that people experience emotional and intellectual revelations throughout different stages in their lives. This excerpt, from his dialogue The Republic, is a conversation between a philosopher and his pupil. The argument made by this philosopher has been interpreted thousands of times across the world. My own interpretation of this allegory is simple enough as Plato expresses his thoughts as separate stages. The stages, very much like life, are represented by growing realizations and newfound "pains." Therefore, each stage in "The Allegory of the Cave" reveals the relation between the growth of the mind and age.

The first stage of the excerpt, which is characterized by chained and confined people, is a metaphor representing the infant and child ages of humans. Like the confined people, children are not allowed to wander freely outside of their home and must stay close to their parent's watchful eye. Those living in the underground den have their heads positioned in a way that they must not view a fire blazing behind them. The heads of the people only see the shadows cast by the fire and objects passing by behind them and they can only guess as to the actual physicality of the object. This also is very similar to children who are curious about objects around them. Although children do not understand complex objects, they do want to know the purpose and function of the object. The mentalities of the people in the cave and of children are 100% subjective and are trapped in their own ignorance: "To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images."(5) Totally emerged in isolation and without experience, those in the den have no idea as to what the true nature of the shadow is. Their only truth is the shadow and they cannot learn the real meaning behind the shadow unless set free.

Furthermore, when Plato writes to set free those in...
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