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Plato's allegory of the cave

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Introduction

´╗┐Plato?s analogy of the cave The story of the cave has many meanings behind it; there is not just one moral to the story, but a variety of linked points are made to express Plato?s understanding of the progress of mind from its lowest stage to an enlightened knowledge of the good. In this story the escaped prisoner in the cave represents Socrates, a Greek philosopher. The allegory begins with a description of prisoners in a cave, who are only able to look straight ahead of themselves because they are chained. They have a fire behind them, a wall in front, and the cave has a long tunnel entrance so that there is no natural daylight in the cave, only the firelight. These prisoners in the cave are representing the Greeks; they have their beliefs and they do not want to turn their heads to listen to anyone else?s teachings that are different to theirs. In this allegory Plato illustrates the prisoners as souls and the cave as the human body thus suggesting the body is a kind of prison in which the soul is trapped. ...read more.

Middle

Here Plato is referring to most of humanity without putting tags on their nationality or origin. However, Plato is also suggesting that the mob that killed Socrates had the same lack of philosophical logic as the prisoners in the story. It therefore follows that the mob that killed Socrates were eikasia. The Prisoners had gained their knowledge through their senses. Plato believed that there was a difference between knowledge gained through reason, and the knowledge gained through using the senses. He believed that knowledge gained through the senses was no more than opinion, because the senses can be mistaken; but knowledge gained through philosophical reasoning was certain. This allegory of the cave makes a contrast between the people who see only appearances, but mistake them for the truth and those people who really do see the truth. From this Plato could also be suggesting that the Greeks gained their knowledge through only what they?ve seen and heard whereas Socrates had actually been enlightened and had gained a better understanding. ...read more.

Conclusion

He finds it hard to adjust to the darkness and his ability to see the shadows on the wall is worse than before his release. This could imply that once you have had the privilege of understanding and further knowledge you cannot go back to the state if eikasia and cannot go back to being satisfied in living in a one dimensional world. The prisoners still chained up laugh at him, and say that the journey up into the light is a waste of time, because it has spoiled his ability to see clearly. They do not want to try find the light for themselves and if someone ever tries to come set them free, they will kill him. Plato is showing exactly what the Greeks did, for when Socrates tried to ?set them free? from their fixed beliefs they killed him and said that he was ?corrupting the minds of the youth?. In summery Plato is using symbolism to show the Greeks that killing of Socrates was wrong and he wants them to learn from this story and realise the errors of their ways. He doesn?t want the people to fear knowledge but to embrace it. ...read more.

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