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Plato and the allegory of the cave

Terminology[ edit ] The allegory of the cave is also called the analogy of the cave, myth of the cave, metaphor of the cave, parable of the cave, and Plato's Cave. Left From top to bottom: Sun; Natural things; Shadows of natural things; Fire; Artificial objects; Shadows of artificial objects; Allegory level. Right From top to bottom: These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves 514a—b.

The prisoners cannot see any of what is happening behind them, they are only able to see the shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them. The sounds of the people talking echo off the walls, and the prisoners believe these sounds come from the shadows 514c. This prisoner would look around and see the fire. The light would hurt his eyes and make it difficult for him to see the objects casting the shadows.

Allegory of the Cave

If he were told that what he is seeing is real instead of the other version of reality he sees on the wall, he would not believe it. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he is accustomed to that is, the shadows of the carried objects.

First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually, he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself 516a. Plato concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave 517a. The cave represents the superficial world for the prisoners.

The chains that prevent the prisoners from leaving the cave represent ignorance, meaning the chains are stopping them from learning the truth. The shadows cast on the walls of the cave represent the superficial truth, which is plato and the allegory of the cave illusion that the prisoners see in the cave.

The freed prisoner represents those in society who see the physical world for the illusion that it is. The prisoner gazing at the sun is seeing the truth of the actual world.

  1. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he is accustomed to that is, the shadows of the carried objects.
  2. The Escape The escaped prisoner represents the Philosopher, who seeks knowledge outside of the cave and outside of the senses. The Shadows So, imagine that you are one of the prisoners.
  3. If one of the prisoners were to correctly guess, the others would praise him as clever and say that he were a master of nature. Sun; Natural things; Shadows of natural things; Fire; Artificial objects; Shadows of artificial objects; Allegory level.
  4. The freed prisoner represents those in society who see the physical world for the illusion that it is.
  5. Terminology[ edit ] The allegory of the cave is also called the analogy of the cave, myth of the cave, metaphor of the cave, parable of the cave, and Plato's Cave. They are actually names of things that we cannot see, things that we can only grasp with the mind.

Only knowledge of the Forms constitutes real knowledge or what Socrates considers "the good". Those who have ascended to this highest level, however, must not remain there but must return to the cave and dwell with the prisoners, sharing in their labors and honors.

Philosophyzer

Plato's Phaedo contains similar imagery to that of the allegory of the Cave; a philosopher recognizes that before philosophy, his soul was "a veritable prisoner fast bound within his body. The epistemological view and the political view, fathered by Richard Lewis Nettleship and A.

Ferguson respectively, tend to be discussed most frequently. Much of the modern scholarly debate surrounding the allegory has emerged from Martin Heidegger 's exploration of the allegory, and philosophy as a whole, through the lens of human freedom in his book The Essence of Human Freedom: On Plato's Cave Allegory and Theaetetus.