The Allegory of the Cave¡¨ in Different Perspectives

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  • Topic: Mathematics, Reality, Sociology
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  • Published : December 5, 2002
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¡§The Allegory of the Cave¡¨ in Different Perspectives
¡§The Allegory of the Cave,¡¨ written by Plato, is an interpretation of a conversation between Socrates, Plato¡¦s mentor, and Glaucon, one of Socrates students. ¡§The Allegory of the Cave¡¨ can be interpreted several different ways. Imagine men in a cave chained up by their necks and legs, forcing them to only look forward at a wall. An opening behind them lets the light in. Above the burning fire and chains, there is a road. Have these chained men ever seen anything else of themselves or others beyond the cave¡¦s shadows made by the fire? Some people would say the truth is only perceived by the shadows seen on the walls of the cave. What if one of these men¡¦s chains were taken off and he was free to leave? Would the man feel pain when seeing the real world? Would he be confused on believing what is real? Would it make a difference if the chained man was briefly educated about what he was going to see first? Perhaps he would understand and not be confused about what is real. Will the man think what he saw before was much more real than what he sees now? Questions like these will bring different opinions and meaning to ¡§The Allegory of the Cave.¡¨ Whose interpretation, if any, is correct when explaining the meaning of ¡§The Allegory of the Cave¡¨? Does it have mathematical meaning, explain a vision of the whole world, or is it just a comparison to the field of social work? I personally feel that ¡§The Allegory of the Cave¡¨ is a great explanation of how people in the world live. People are just like the men chained inside the cave, people only know and believe what he or she might have seen. Outside of the cave is the world around us. People are very narrow minded beings, a persons perception on life is only from their own experiences. When the chained men are let free is when people finally realize what is going on in the world and not just what is around them.

¡§The Allegory of the Cave¡¨ can be interpreted with different meanings, such as Michael O¡¦Leary¡¦s theory of the cave being a place away from the world. Michael O¡¦Leary believes ¡§The Allegory of the Cave¡¨ is Plato¡¦s explanation of the education of the soul towards enlightenment. He sees it as what happens when someone is educated to the level of a philosopher (O¡¦Leary). O¡¦Leary also explains that Plato contends that the men must ¡§go back into the cave¡¨ or return to everyday world of politics, greed, and power struggles. ¡§The Allegory of the Cave¡¨ also attacks people who rely upon, or are slaves to, their senses. The chains that bind the prisoners are the senses (O¡¦Leary). Even though O¡¦Leary has a reasonable explanation as to why he believes what he does, which includes solid evidence, his interpretation may not necessarily be correct. The shadows might not be what people rely on as the truth. The cave might not be an interpretation of a persons¡¦ sheltered life from the true reality. Michael O¡¦Leary might be correct about the meaning, but at the same time Plato could be trying to explain something else.

¡§The Allegory of the Cave¡¨ can be also interpreted by using metaphorical imagery. Socrates, in Book VII of The Republic just after the allegory, stated that the cave was our world and the fire was our sun (Jerry H. Gill 1). Major assumptions inherited within the metaphorical imagery were made by Plato. Plato also says that the ¡§path of the prisoners was man¡¦s souls ascent to knowledge or enlightenment¡¨ (O¡¦Leary). Plato helped introduce our world of sight with an intellectual world of opinion. A persons¡¦ world of sight allows a person to ¡§see¡¨ things that are not real, such as a perfect circle. Plato calls this higher understanding of the world ¡§abstract reality¡¨ or the intelligible world (O¡¦Leary). He compares this abstract reality with the knowledge that comes from reasoning and final understanding (O¡¦Leary). Abstract reality is...
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