The Allegory of the Cave Plato Book VII of The Republic Draft 17.1.2003 Minna Takala Plato's Cave by David Kennedy
Plato's Cave by Carol Blakney A powerful metaphoric story about limitations of human understanding, social relationships, governance, and awakening, written more than 2000 years ago ~ 360 B.C.E
ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE
Plato, through the character of Socrates, invites us to imagine prisoners chained within a cave so that all they see are shadows cast on a wall by a fire. These shadows are but images of the reality of the outside world to which their back is turned, but for the prisoners, they represent reality. Imagine further that one of the prisoners is freed. He would see the fire, but he would be blinded by the light and would retreat to the familiar shadow world. If he were dragged from the cave into the light of the sun, he would finally confront the world as it really is. To return to the shadow world would become difficult. If he did so and tried to share his new knowledge of reality with the cave dwellers, he would be scorned.
This allegory is an extension of Plato's image of the Good as the light of understanding. It illustrates how, in relying on the senses and perception, man mistakes the shadow for substance. Like all good allegories, this one has many layers of meaning. For Plato, only those who have attained an understanding of the Good, who have ascended from the cave, are true philosophers. Only such men would be fitted to govern, to be the philosopher kings in his utopian Republic.
" Plato's Cave - in The Republic " A source of light (R) casts inside a cave the shadow of a Letter (V) carried by actors (B); this projection provides the reality for a crowd (N).
In Plato's cave analogy,
the inside of the cave can be interpreted
to represent the depraved human condition.
Those inside the cave are passive,
They live in darkness and conformity.
Is it only through abstract thinking
that we may escape the cave, gain access
to philosophical insight, and self-liberation?
Leaving the cave, then, would be synonymous
with attaining enlightenment and truth.
In Plato's Cave we are restrained by what we know and that is based on what we are able to see. (And vice a versa ???) Beyond the cave, we know not what awaits, yet we use the cave to describe ourselves and our lives, without acknowledging what lies beyond our vision. Escaping ignorance or accepting ignorance ???