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Explain the Analogy of the Cave in Plato's 'Republic'.

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´╗┐Explain the Analogy of the Cave in Plato?s Republic. Plato was a Greek Philosopher, who was a student of Socrates. The Analogy of the Cave in Plato?s Republic was written as a dialogue between Socrates and Plato?s brother Glaucon. In the Analogy of the Cave, Plato describes the prisoners who lived an isolated life in the confined space of a cave. Plato?s Analogy explains a philosopher?s journey to knowledge and the difficulty that he faces along the way and the prisoners in the cave who have not embarked on the journey to true knowledge and are living their lives, only seeing what is on the surface, and what they want to see. The Analogy relates to Plato?s Theory of Forms, which explains how the forms possess the ultimate reality. The World of Forms is the unseen world in which everything is constantly evolving and changing. The Analogy however, is the attempt to enlighten the prisoners and explain the philosophers place in society. He uses the story to explain the need to question everything like a philosopher does in order to distinguish between the unreal, physical world and the real spiritual world lit by the sun. The sun is the ultimate good and Plato gives the name of good the demiurge. The cave is a symbol of the world; it represents the World of Appearances based on what people see by their senses. ...read more.


The prisoners also represent our souls, which are yearning to get to a higher place. They are trapped inside the body, which is a physical form. The shadows are made from ?all sorts of vessels and statues and figures of animals?, a mere shadow show orchestrated by the unseen men. They are the shadows which create the false images of distorted truth. They are the limits of reality. The prisoner?s senses are misguided by the shadows. The shadows are deceitful; they are the false way people see things. The shadows that the prisoners look upon represent the perceived truth; the prisoners did not have the knowledge to look beyond the superficial, and only had the capacity to believe in shadows. We are also told about the fire. It burnt behind and above the prisoners. In front of the fire there was a puppet stage for the men to carry the object behind, this would cast the shadows. The only noises the prisoners would hear were the echoes of reality, and the only things the prisoners would see were the shadows of truth. The puppeteers are ignorant for carrying on teaching the prisoners false knowledge. The fire in the cave represents the power of the sun. The fire has the ability to illuminate the false truths inside the cave; it magnifies what the prisoners can see, which shows them what to believe in. ...read more.


This journey back is also painful as once he has seen reality, he does not wish to reminisce in the deceit of the past. However he is a good man, who gains true knowledge and wishes to enlighten the others. He could represent Socrates going to enlighten Athenian Society. When he gets to the prisoners, he seems mad, as he describes a new strange reality. They laugh at him and mock him, and reject him to the point of threatening to kill him. Their disagree shows how previous philosophers such as Socrates were penalized and laughed at for their beliefs and ultimately killed. Plato?s Analogy of the Cave is a representation of the human condition, under the circumstances of our basic beliefs and behaviors in society. It represents the lack of human knowledge, and the difference between the two worlds. It shows that in the World of Appearances, everything we see or experience are shadows of The World of Forms, they are impure. They show that we live in a world full of flux and decay and we are just matter. The World of Appearances is a Visible World and a Finite World whereas The World of Forms is an Unseen World, full of phenomenons, forms and ideals. The World of Forms is constantly evolving and changing; ?You cannot step into the same river twice?. The World of Forms is outside the cave, and it is where everyone aims to go. The soul yearns for a higher place. ...read more.

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