PLATO The allegory of the cave

Topics: Mind, Perception, Understanding Pages: 3 (1025 words) Published: November 4, 2013
The allegory of the cave- summarised in informal essay form. Plato’s "Allegory of the Cave" represents an extended metaphor that is to contrast the way in which we perceive and believe in what is reality.

The thesis behind his allegory is that, the basic tenets that all we perceive are imperfect "reflections" of the ultimate Forms, which subsequently represent truth and reality. In his story, Plato establishes a cave in which prisoners are chained down and forced to look upon the front wall of the cave. The two main elements to the story are that of the fictional metaphor of the prisoners, and the philosophical tenet in which said story is supposed to represent, thus presenting us with the allegory itself.

The multi-faceted meanings that can be perceived from the "Cave" can be seen in the beginning with the presence of our prisoners who are chained within the darkness of the aforementioned cave. The prisoners are bound to the floor and unable to turn their heads to see what goes on behind them. To the back of the prisoners, under the protection of the parapet, lie the puppeteers whom are casting the shadows on the wall in which the prisoners are perceiving reality. The passage is actually told not from the perspective of the prisoners, but rather a conversation occurring between Socrates and Glaucon (Plato's brother). While the allegory itself isn't the story, but rather the conversational dialogues between Glaucon and Socrates (Plato often spoke his ideas through Socrates in his works), the two are not mutually exclusive and thus will not be treated so.

As Socrates is describing the cave and the situation of the prisoners, he conveys the point that the prisoners would be inherently mistaken as to what is reality. Because we as readers know that the puppeteers behind them are using wooden and iron objects to liken the shadows to reality based items and people, the prisoners (unable to turn their heads) would know nothing else but the shadows, and...
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