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Explain Plato's analogy of the cave

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Introduction

'Explain the analogy of the cave in Plato's republic' Plato was born in Athens, Greece in 428 BC, lived for 80 years until 347/348 BC. He was one of Greece's most controversial citizens, and today remains a major influential character within philosophy. He is best known for his collection of scriptures in the book 'Republic'. He was also a mathematician and opened Athens first university where subjects such as; astronomy, biology, mathematics, politics and philosophy were taught. He was born into a wealthy family in Athens, was taught by Socrates, (most of what we know about Socrates derives from Plato's scriptures) another influential Athenian philosopher. Plato witnessed the death of Socrates at the hands of the Athenian government and after fearing for his own safety fled to Sicily, Italy. He spent the rest of his life lecturing at the academy, many speculations exist of his death although according to 'Brian Taylor' he died in his own bed after attending a feast. Plato's analogy of the cave is one of his numerous epistemologies. An epistemology is basically a method in which we believe something to be true, in this instance Plato uses the allegory of the cave as a metaphor to contrast the way which we perceive and believe in what is reality. ...read more.

Middle

He tries to explain his enlightenment but they are ignorant and don't want to listen. They threaten to kill him if he continues speaking this 'nonsense'. As this theory is a metaphor all of the subjects involved in the story have a hidden meaning: * The cave represents the prisoner's world. It is all they have ever known, although logically there is a way to escape. In reality this is our world, it is all that we have ever known. * The shadows represent what we assume to be reality. We go through life looking only at shadows we know nothing about reality but only these materialistic visions we see. * The chains represent the constraints in society. How we are never advised to look beyond what we presume to be reality or in this case 'look behind'. * The escapee is a representation of someone who sees the truth or someone who is 'enlightened'. This person has seen beyond the shadows, they are a philosopher. * The fire gives us a glimpse of the truth, it is seen as giving us the first steps to enlightenment. ...read more.

Conclusion

Plato believed there was a world of forms. In this world of forms lie ideas. Ideas of everything that exists in our world, only unlike our world everything in the world of forms is a perfect example of the imperfect copies that remain in our world - the world of appearances. Because these ideas are not made of matter they cannot change they remain the same throughout time, everything we have ever discovered or will discover is already in the world of forms we just haven't remembered it yet (Plato believed that we had souls. He believed that our souls once were in the world of forms and then somehow got caught in the world of appearances. These souls remember through time the perfect example of what we saw within the world of forms. When humans philosophise and eventually become philosophers, once we have died our souls return to the world of forms. Unfortunately those souls who haven't discovered the truth remain in the world of appearances keeping the 'reason' part of our soul, moving on to alternate bodies until eventually that soul philosophises. ?? ?? ?? ?? Dominic Scott Philosophy ...read more.

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