Allegory of the Cave Analysis

Published: 2021-08-04 18:10:07
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Category: Philosophy

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Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave is story analogy of how Plato perceives life. Each part and detail of the allegory has a specific and important meaning that represents some part of people’s life, all centered around their perception. For starters people that are tied up facing the wall only see shadows of objects they can’t see. Through human nature, the people desire to learn more about the shadows. They name them and remember what they look like. As this is all they have ever known, they think this is all that life is because they have no way of knowing anything else. This part of the allegory represents the common man in real life. They live day to day figuring out and trying to explain what they can; however, they don’t go looking for a deeper richer understanding of everything. They are content with what they “know”, because they hold their knowledge to be the truth (Doxa).
Next, the shackles that keep the people in the cave are a metaphor for anything in a person’s life that would keep them from reaching the whole “truth” about everything. These constraints can be anything, but are often related to a few broad topics, such as family, work, or the enjoyment or relaxation of free time. These constraints hold just as true in today’s world, if not more. Then there are the people who make the shadows, who hold up the objects to cast shadows for the men in shackles to interpret. What these people represent are the things in life that control or change people’s perception of things. Some of these controlling forces could be things like gods, religion, the ruling power, or family. In a modern sense this would be largely impacted by media and the news.
People are persuaded by groups/forces/people that seem to have power, and are often consciously unaware of this perception control. All the power is in the hands of these people, and it is often hard to escape the control they have. To continue, at some point in time, a person will become curious about their being, or have an inclination to find something greater than they currently know about, and seek more knowledge. This is the person in the allegory that finds his way out of the cave into the light. Speaking in a literal sense, when a person first steps into light after being in a cave for years on end, they will be almost blinded. They would have to ease into it. Start with short amounts of time in the light that progressively get longer until finally they are able to look directly into the sun. The same is true In regards to the man who escapes the shackles and enters the light for the first time.
The sun being the ultimate truth, or knowledge, is too much to handle all at once. For someone to realize that everything they knew was not the truth could easily be detrimental. They would have to relearn the truth, process change, and start again with their development of knowledge. Now, being the only person who really knows the truth, they would go back into the cave to get others to come out and see what is actually real. Now when they go back in, his eyes are adjusted to the light, so everything he used to know will seem like nothing, as he won’t be able to see it. When the other people see him acting like this, and telling them that none of what they know or see is real, they see him as being insane or without knowledge and don’t believe what he is telling them. They don’t want to become blind as the person before them did, seeming to loose all the knowledge they have. This part of the allegory shows that common people don’t want to learn the truth. They are afraid of the truth because it would question or prove wrong all they know at the moment.
What this all is meant to represent is that there is more to life than we know, no matter how much knowledge we have. There will always be more to learn, and just because someone’s ideas are different than yours, and may seem wrong in the moment, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are untruthful. People should embrace new information and search for answers and truth about whatever they can because living in your own world, and remaining oblivious to true understanding, is pointless.
There are many conclusions to be drawn from The Allegory of the Cave. In my opinion one of the most important is that the majority of people don’t want to know the truth. They are content with the life they live and feel happy with whatever they have. They feel comfortable in their current state, and going out looking for truth would jeopardize that comfortability. Since they have no way of knowing the advantages and fulfillment of truthful knowledge, and to gain truth would be to temporarily give up being comfortable, they prefer to maintain the comfort they already have. Once true knowledge and truth is found the quality of life will increase greatly. Another lesson from this allegory is that once someone finds the truth they will naturally want to bring more people into the light. Bringing people into the light will lead to a better community or society as a whole.
Overall, The Allegory of the Cave represents that most things in life are not really the truth of what they seem. They have been altered many times over and end up looking very different than the objects that they represent. In order to find the truth about what things are you have to escape from what you hold to be true and accept the new findings. After learning the truth the next task is to bring others to it as well. While difficult, the truth and knowledge will lead to a better society as a whole.

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