In this myth, Plato describes a scene in which men, imprisoned since birth, are chained around their neck and legs. As a result, they can only look to the back wall of the cave and cannot escape. Behind the men there is a wall with a hallway and a fire that allows them to see the world as represented by the cave. Down the corridor shadows of men move across the walls, enabled by the lighting of the bonfire, which are projected on the wall so the prisoners can see their reflections. They are not able to see anything else out of their image. The tale identifies men as prisoners. The shadows of men are plain appearances that people perceive through their senses and they think is real. The world outside the cave and what the prisoners do not see is the world of ideas. In this world the most significant thought is the idea of truth represented by the sun. One of the prisoners managed to break free out of his imprisonment and escape his confinement to explore the real world. When this prisoner becomes free he understands that he must guide others to the real world. Perhaps, that is where Plato felt was his place in humanity and that the science of the philosopher was the light for humankind.
The situation in which these men find themselves prisoners of the cave represents the state in which human beings remain outside true knowledge. Only those who are able to overcome the pain that would free them from the shackles and restore strength to their cramped muscles may contemplate the world of ideas that their eyes will be able to recognize. Philosophy then can help men separate form an artificial and shadow world and help him find the ideal world. This a world that can only be attained by searching our soul and identifying reason. How this relates to the average person? I think most of will fraternize with the men in the cave in one point or other in our lives. Has there been occasions in which we find ourselves circling around and treacherous...
References: Bowie, G. L., Michaels, M. W., & Solomon, R. C. (2011). Twenty Questions, An Introduction to Philosophy (7th ed.). Boston, USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
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