What is Plato Trying to Say in the Allegory of the Cave?

Published: 2021-08-04 18:30:07
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Category: Philosophy

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When he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision (Plato, 2). Plato’s Allegory of the Cave can be interpreted in many different ways. It can be used to describe a variety of governments and its influence on the people, yet it can also be used in a religious sense as well. Even though Plato is writing from a non-Christian point of view, the Allegory of the Cave still serves as an illustration of a Christian Truth, that being those who are bonded to sin and darkness have difficulty pursuing righteousness and light, yet those who chose to seek the brighter light outside will benefit one’s sanctification.
At the beginning of the allegory, Plato describes the setting of the cave. The underground cave contains a mouth openly facing the light, which reaches along the cave. Those who are walking in the cave are bound by chains. The bindings are attached to their legs and necks, and while being forced to look only onward, it prevented the turning of their heads to see what was beyond the cave. On the other side, a blazing fire was used to cast the shadows of figures that were cast upon the walls of the cavern. The captives were only able to see those shadows, which they believed were their reality.
The first part of the allegory is the bindings and the shadows. The cave that the people were in was a prison to them, and those in the cave have been enslaved since their childhoods. The prisoners are bound by chains, which made the prisoners unable to move. The shadows were cast upon the wall that the prisoners were forced to face. Since these shadows were the only thing the prisoners saw, they couldn’t comprehend that there was a truer and greater reality waiting for them on the outside of the cave. If one was to attempt to look onward to the light outside, then he would experience severe suffering, for the light outside was so blinding. The prisoners were so used to the shadows, and the reality that they were forced to see, that they couldn’t comprehend the light outside. These shadows were just a mere disguise, camouflaging the prisoners from what was real and true. Those who are bonded to sin have shadows in their own lives. They cannot see what is righteous and genuine, since they aren’t opening themselves up to the idea that the reality they see is simply an illusion. Sinners choose to only see the fake reality that is brought forth to their attention, while those who belong to God are able to see past the illusions, and look towards Christ. There is much more to life that meets the eye. However, the prisoners were forced to only see what was in front of them, because the shackles prohibited them from seeing a true reality.
One day, a man came into the cave and released one of the prisoners. When his chains were broken, the captive, now living in freedom, walked along the side of the cave, watching the other prisoners. He noticed how the shadows on the walls were not real, and they were just the reflections of figures that were cast upon the wall. He saw how the prisoners were unable to see anything but the fake realities set forth for them. Once the man reached the mouth of the cave, he stepped out of the cave to see true light and sun for the very first time. His first step into the light brought him into a state of blindness, for he lived his entire life in the darkness of the cave. The power of true light was so overwhelming for him, that the reality that he once knew vanished into thin air. This man is an example of how those who are bound to sin are stuck living in the fake reality set up for them. Conversely, when they understand that they can live in the shadows no more, they are able to live a free life in the light, and that righteousness that they are stepping into makes them into a completely changed person. Their reality that they believed to once be true, is true no more. Everything they once lived for has absolutely no meaning, for they have found righteousness by pursing the light. The man who walked out of the cave and into the light left behind his old life, and his interpretations of his old reality, and moved toward living in a true reality. He stepped toward the light, hoping that the bondage he was once enslaved to is no more. By turning to the light, he is now able to live in a true life without sin having a hold onto him, just like how the freed man isn’t bound to anymore more chains. In the bible, Isaiah 42:6-7 states, I, theLord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. This verse means

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