Plato's Allegory of the Cave

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Prompt: Define Plato 's “Allegory of the Cave”. What is the central message? Is he describing education alone? Where does politics come in?

Plato is known to many as one of the most influential and greatest philosophers to have lived. Plato represents his idea of reality and the truth about what we perceive through one of his famous writings, “The Allegory of the Cave”. The philosophical writing is in the form of an allegory, which is “a story in which the characters and situations actually represent people and situations in another context”(Pg. 448). In the story, Plato uses the technique of creating a conversation between his teacher Socrates and his brother Glaucon. In the “Allegory of the Cave” Socrates asks Glaucon to envision a dark cave where there are prisoners who are chained and restricted to only be able to see the wall in front of them since childhood. The prisoners cannot move their legs, necks, or heads. He describes a fire that is behind the prisoners which allows shadows of puppets, objects, vessels, statues, and animals to appear on the wall in front of the prisoners. Those shadows are the only type of perception the prisoners have about reality. Socrates states in the allegory, “the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images”(Pg. 450). In the outer world, there is light and everything is clearly visible. If one of the chained people is released from the cave world, and if he is taken to the outer world he cannot see anything at first because his eyes dazzle in the light; but if he stays in the outer world, slowly and gradually he begins to identify everything and he becomes to realize that the outer world is the real world and the cave world is the unreal world. He becomes gratified with himself and remembers the other people in the cave. He gives pity and sympathy over the cave people who are lost in darkness. He thinks that it is better to be the slave in the outer world rather than being the king inside the cave.

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