The Allegory Of The Cave Essay

The Allegory Of The Cave Essay

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In this section, Plato is setting up the scene for the Allegory of the Cave where he also gives the Analogy of the Divided Line and the Analogy of the Sun. Plato is narrating a discussion between Socrates and Glaucon.

“Next, then,” I said, “make an image of our nature in its education and want of education, likening it to a condition of the following kind. See human beings as though they were in an underground cave-like dwelling with its entrance, a long one, open to the light across the whole width of the cave. They are in it from childhood with their legs and necks in bonds so that they are fixed, seeing only in front of them, unable because of the bond to turn their heads all the way around. Their light is from a fire burning far above and behind them. Between built like the partitions puppet-handlers set in front of the human beings and over which they show the puppets.” (Republic, VII, 514a-b)

Plato is setting up his exposition of the human condition here through a carefully constructed metaphor concerning human perception and the lack of clarity it gives, such as being in a cave. As you can imagine, the fire would make the images seen in the cave dim and they may appear to flicker. This is obviously a distortion of the reality, but is something that all humans are disabled with. It is just as Plato said; it is like a puppet show where you only see what the puppeteer wants you to see.

“Then also see along this wall human beings carrying all sorts of artifacts, which project above the wall, and statues of men and other animals wrought from stone, wood, and every kind of material; as is to be expected, some of the carriers utter sounds while others are silent.” … “They’re like us,” I said. “For in the first place,...


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...e man who is sharpest at making out the things that go by, and most remembers which of them are accustomed to pass before, which after, and which at the same time as the others, and who is thereby most able to divine what is going to come, in your opinion would he be desirous of them and envy those who are honored and hold power among these men? Or, rather, would he be affected as Homer says and want very much ‘to be on the soil, a sef to another man, to a portionless man, and to undergo anything whatsoever rather than to opine those things and live that way?” (Republic, VII, 516b-d)

If a person were to leave one cave and gain revelation—even if it were from another cave—would they want to continue to gain power and prestige among the ignorant and the fools or would they prefer to live in reality or whatever is more real than his prior dwelling? People seek truth.

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