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Explain Plato's use of the metaphor of the shadows in his Allegory of the Cave.

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Introduction

Question 1: Explain Plato's use of the metaphor of the shadows in his Allegory of the Cave. Plato was a Philosopher who used a story based on people imprisoned in a cave to explain the way in which he thought humans formed ideas based on their senses. The story is known as 'the Allegory of the Cave' and is one of Plato's most famous passages. The allegory has different meanings at different levels; therefore there is not just a single moral in this story. Plato believed that there were two worlds, the world of appearance, the world we are in, and another world known as reality - a world we were all in before we entered the world of appearance, however we can't remember it. ...read more.

Middle

As the prisoners have never know any other form of life or even another world they are forced into thinking that there experience is normal, because that is all that their senses have ever experienced. Furthermore, Plato claims that the prisoners would assume that the echoes made by the people came from the shadows of the puppets, and that these echoes would also be taken as reality. As is now evident, the shadows are highly (and deliberately) analogous to everyday beliefs held to be true by the majority of people, which in reality are no more than mere illusions. Plato is here demonstrating, by use of the shadows, what he believes to be the lower level of intellect, i.e. belief, as opposed to the higher level of intellect, i.e. ...read more.

Conclusion

The elitism of Plato's understanding may also be criticised, as it may seem immoral to some because of the arrogance portrayed by him. What Plato is actually claiming is that only a tiny minority of people like himself have true understanding, and that the rest are ignorant and wrong. Plato's attitude is summed up by his quotation of Homer, to illustrate his point, effectively saying how he would rather be a 'surf in the house of some landless man than live and think as they do'. A further criticism would be that Plato's understanding of knowledge has no practical relevance, as it gives no indication or guide as to how to achieve the higher levels of intellect or, more importantly, how to apply his theory to the moral field of making everyday decisions. Colin Obiozo Username : OBIOZOCI ...read more.

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