Essay on Socrates' Analogy of the Cave

Essay on Socrates' Analogy of the Cave

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At the beginning of Book Seven, in an attempt to better describe the education of the philosopher Socrates begins to set up an analogy with an ascent and descent into “the cave”. In Socrates’ cave analogy there was a group of people who were from childhood held in a dimly lit underground cave. The people were kept there in bonds that were designed to allow them to only what was in front of them by depriving them of the ability to turn their heads around. Also present in Socrates’ cave was a certain wall or partition separating the prisoners from another group of people who simply walked along a path carrying statues shaped after all that of beings and occasionally uttering sounds as the others remained quiet. The shadows of the statues were cast onto the wall which the prisoner were forced to look upon while the other people were kept out of the shadows thanks to the partition. In the analogy one of the prisoners is through some reason released from the chains that had him bound and became able to stand up and look around the cave. The newly released prison is then confronted with the idea that all he had been seeing before was false and that he is now on the path to finding what truly is. Confused and uncomfortable with these new ideas Socrates says that the prison will want to believe that what he knew before was real and will have to at first be forced to leave the cave. After getting over the initial annoyance of being forced from the cave and while slowly allowing for the agony of his eyes adjusting to the new lighting Socrates maintains that the prisoner will begin exploring and slowly begin trying to identify the things around him. Socrates says that the prisoner will work his way towards this identification through a se...


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...st instead return to the cave (society) and attempt to make them also aware of all he has discovered. While it may seem like a punishment to force them back into the cave we are reminded that Socrates’ worry in creation is the happiness of the whole not of any party in particular which make this a very just action to take. Since Socrates maintains that the philosopher would not be able to make it to his level of understanding without being first forced from the “cave” through education afforded to him by the people of the city just as the prisoner had to drug from the cave in the analogy. In order to show some type of gratitude to the other the people of the town and to maintain that the people in the city will have a descent understanding of what is just, it is not only just but necessary in order for the city to work mandatory that “prisoner” return to the cave.

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