Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Topics: Platonism, Ontology, Theory of Forms Pages: 4 (1521 words) Published: October 24, 2008
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave Essay
One of Plato’s more famous writings, The Allegory of the Cave, Plato outlines the story of a man who breaks free of his constraints and comes to learn of new ideas and levels of thought that exist outside of the human level of thinking. However, after having learned so many new concepts, he returns to his fellow beings and attempts to reveal his findings but is rejected and threatened with death. This dialogue is an apparent reference to his teacher’s theories in philosophy and his ultimate demise for his beliefs but is also a relation to the theory of the Divided Line. This essay will analyze major points in The Allegory of the Cave and see how it relates to the Theory of the Divided Line. Also, this essay will attempt to critique the dialogue from the point of view of Aristotle, Plato’s student, using his theories and beliefs. In the beginning, Plato states that there are a group of people sitting in a cave who face a wall and cannot turn around or move. Behind them is a fire and a curtain, behind which are people who pass by with gear and equipment they carry. This fire behind the people in the cave casts a shadow on the wall and, because the people in the cave cannot turn around, therefore the people believe that the shadows are ultimately real. Plato uses this setting and background to reflect human beings and their thought processes since they apparently see the shadows as real objects but do not realize that the only real objects exist where they cannot see. The shadows on the wall are the imperfect and skewed reflections/representations of the Forms which are real. As the story goes on, there is one man among the group in the cave who is suddenly freed from his bonds and is compelled to look around. He sees the fire behind the group, the curtain, and the objects passing by that cause the reflections. He therefore comes to the realization that what he has believed as real objects are actually imperfect representations of...
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