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Explain the Analogy of the Cave in Platos Republic

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Introduction

´╗┐RS PHILOSOPHY PLATO?S CAVE 3 a) Explain the Analogy of the Cave in Plato?s Republic An analogy is when a parallel between two things, on which a comparison may be established is put in a simple story that has metaphorical meaning. Plato explains his analogy of the cave to help describe his philosophical theory on the key difference amongst the physical appearance of the world and the reality behind this appearance, the World of Forms. In his opinion his analogy could evidently clarify to others why the physical world was just an illusion; that true reality must be start in the everlasting fixed World of Forms. Plato?s analogy starts with a cave. The cave represents the visibly physical world. It also represents the human body imprisoning the soul from true knowledge. Plato believes that the soul has been caught in the body and that the only escape is to become like the philosopher and discover true reality. He believes that the soul exists in the World of Forms and has always done so. This is why he places such an emphasis on reason. The mind is important; through the mind we can reason back to our souls to remember the nature of things. A group of prisoners are chained by their necks and legs so that they cannot turn around and have been like this since birth and know no other life than this. ...read more.

Middle

In the analogy a prisoner is set free. At first he stands with some pain and became stunned and confused by the bright light from the fire. He struggles to adjust to his new enlightenment of the sight of the environment he had always known. The prisoner quickly understands that the shadows he saw on the walls were not the real objects themselves. The journey out of the cave by the prisoner is the journey of the new philosopher to true discovery of knowledge. As like the released prisoner, the new philosopher struggles to take in his new understanding of reality Outside the prisoner would carry on struggling to comprehend the new world that was surrounding him. At first the prisoner would only focuses on the shadows that objects cast in the sun. Slowly he would be able to see things as they actually are, in complete shape and colour. This part of the analogy is highly significant as the outside world represents the World of Forms. It is the sun that provides the true shape and colour in the analogy and so the sun represents the Form of the Good. Plato is stating that the Form of the Good gives all of the other Forms their existence. ...read more.

Conclusion

This helps parallel Plato?s idea for ordinary people who can?t see past the visible world, an illusion, and that genuine reality originates beyond the physical world, the World of Forms. Those who agree with this statement say that we cannot demonstrate that the spiritual world as there is no genuine evidence to support this, Plato uses reason alone to arrive to his conclusion, and how does he know this is true? As well as this, it is argued that Plato?s analogy is too far-fetched and unrealistic, as it would never have been possible for the prisoners to have been chained from birth and know nothing but a shadow play; this shows a weakness in his argument and proves that his allegory may not even relate to reality. In addition to this how can Plato be so sure of reality himself? What even is reality? Also the links between forms and this world is unclear and it rejects using our senses at all, but we rely on senses to discover and make judgements. Although Plato believed the real world was a world of ideas and eternal perfect forms, his story is still pertinent to our own experience. Most of us assume that the sights and sounds we perceive are the "real world". When science inform us that we are not seeing reality as it is, but merely the images that manifests in our minds, we shrug in disbelief. ...read more.

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