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Explain the Analogy of the Cave in Platos Republic, ) The Analogy of the Cave tells us nothing about reality Discuss.

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Introduction

´╗┐Explain the Analogy of the Cave in Plato?s Republic. Plato uses a simple story that has metaphorical meaning, this is an analogy. He uses this simple story to explain his philosophical idea that there are two worlds, the world of forms and the physical world in which we live. He believes he has completed the journey of enlightenment by escaping this physical world and uses ?The Cave? analogy, to try and help us onto our journey of enlightenment. He tries explaining to others why the physical world, or world of sense experience, was nothing but an illusion; that true reality must be found in the eternal unchanging World of Forms. Plato?s analogy begins in the cave itself. The cave is used to represent the physical world or the world of sense experience. Prisoners have been chained since birth so that they cannot turn around to see, they are ordinary people who haven?t yet discovered knowledge so they know no better life. The chains represent our sense that causes us to accept what we see and hear. ...read more.

Middle

Plato then suggests the ascent out of the cave is a difficult one, with a rocky path and steep jagged edges, this symbolises the philosophers' difficult journey to enlightenment as it is painful process thinking in new ways. Once outside the prisoner would further struggle to understand the new world that was around him. At first he would simply focus on the shadows that objects cast in the sun. But given time he would be able to see objects as they really are, in full shape and colour. This section of the analogy is very important as the outside world represents the World of Forms. The philosopher pays particular attention to the sun as he realises it is the source of all life, including, indirectly, the shadows of the cave. The prisoner would now not care for the physical world at all. He has discovered the truth and does not want to leave it, he suggests that if the philosopher would return to the cave, no one would believe him; they would say he was insane. In the darkness he would also find it harder to see the movement of the shadows as he is used to the light outside the cave. ...read more.

Conclusion

The argument is that this makes the idea seem outdated, because it is set in a society where people are not treated as equals, which leads us to doubt it?s ideas of there being another realm of which is real. As opposed to these views, it can be argued the cave does tell us something about reality. Many take the view that the cave is not to be taken so literally, that the ?cave? is just a simplified version of our own imitation of reality. Plato could not tell us exactly what reality is but he tells us we are wrong about our senses, and what we think is real. He tells us what reality is not. This would mean that the analogy of the cave can actually tell us something about reality if we search hard enough. To conclude, it can be argued that unless we read between the lines, the analogy tells us nothing- we need to have the same difficult ascent the philosopher did to truly understand reality. Moreover, it can be argued that the cave analogy was perhaps focused at a different audience than today as views have changed compared to those shown in the analogy thus cannot really tell us about today?s reality. ...read more.

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