Analysis of Plato’s allegory of the Cave in the Republic
In the Republic, Book VII, Plato through Socrates presents the allegory of the cave. This allegory is used to help the explanation of how the philosophers are educated from ignorance to knowledge. Socrates defends that true education is not just seeing shadows and visible objects but understanding their nature. This allegory illustrates how, in relying on the senses and perception, man mistakes the shadows for reality. The people inside the cave are passive, unreflective and restrained. They live in darkness and conformity. Plato through the character of Socrates describes a den, with prisoners chained, so that they could not move, therefore all they saw were nothing but images cast on the wall by the fire. All they heard were voices from the shadows. The shadows are nothing but images of the reality of the outside world to which their back is turn too, but for the prisoners is the only reality they know. “The truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the image” (The Republic 252).If one of the prisoners was released and turned his neck around he would see the fire and he would be blinded by it. Therefore he would be unable to see the reality, and he would still persist in maintaining the superior truth of the shadows. “Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?” (The Republic 255). If he was dragged from the cave into the light of the sun, he would finally confront the world as it really is. He would be dazzled at first by the excess of light and will not be able to see the reality surrounding him. ”When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities” (The Republic 255) In Plato’s cave allegory we are restrained by what we know, which is based on what we see and hear. Beyond the cave, we do not know what awaits, yet we use the cave to...
References: Jowett, Benjamin. The Republic.Trans. Plato. New York: Vintage Books, 1991. Print.
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