To begin, Socrates asks Glaucon, to imagine a cave in which prisoners are detained. These prisoners have been in the cave since their birth, and they are completely immobile. A chain around their neck forces them to stare at only wall in front of them (514a). Behind the prisoners is a fire and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, on which people can walk. These people are puppeteers, who use the fire to project everyday objects on the cave wall (514b). Since they could not move their heads, the shadows produced by the puppeteers are all the prisoners can perceive. They accept these images to be the truth, rather than just shadowy representations of what is actually in existence. In Plato’s theory, the cave represents people who believe that knowledge comes from what we see and hear in the world – empirical evidence. The raised wall and chains symbolize the limitations in our thinking.
The cave shows that believers of empirical knowledge are trapped in a ‘cave’ of misunderstanding when Socrates proposes the question- what if one of the prisoners was to be freed and “compelled to turn his neck around and walk towards the light” (515c)? The light would hurt his eyes, as comfortable and adapted as he was to the shadows (515c). If...
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...ion—usurps reason as the controlling power.
Nevertheless, what sort of life is provided in this city? All freedom requires compromise between the rights of the individual and the goals and obligations of the state. Plato proposed that his city should be one where the philosopher kings decided who can mate, to produce only the strongest and most intelligent babies, and discard any defective children (460c). In addition, he said that all children should be taken from their parents immediately to remove any loyalty to family, and to ensure loyalty to only the city. The purpose of these requirements was to ensure the propensity for the public good, and to guarantee sacrifice of personal interests. Individual liberty can keep human beings ‘chained’ to instantaneous empirical wants, rather than the greater range of human potentialities, especially philosophical potentials.
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