Allegory Of The Cave Term Paper


Allegory of the Cave: Plato: Truth and Art Allegory of the cave is one of the most interesting, enlightening and insightful example given by Plato in his book The Republic to explain such vague concepts as knowledge and truth. It appears in form of dialogues between Socrates and Glaucon and they touch upon various important concepts in connection with learning and discovery. Two very vital subjects discussed are art and truth. When we closely study the allegory, we realize that for Socrates and Plato, art was something powerful and thus dangerous. In this allegory, art has been presented in a negative light because Plato saw what people could do with art. He saw it in the form of drawing on the wall in the dark cave and realized that while art offered a means of communication, it could suppress man's ability to think clearly and may even fail to illuminate the senses.

Plato was of the view that most people in this world are living in complete darkness and art facilitates this retarded growth of men. This darkness has made it impossible to see the 'actual, unchanging' truth and thus the knowledge they possess about people and things is highly impaired. The great philosopher is trying to explain why people of greater knowledge can often encounter ridicule by those who have refused to come out of the cave. This is indeed a very interesting analogy, which must be analyzed carefully in order to understand its significance and relevance to this world. Before delving deeper into the explanation, it is important to know precisely what various objects in this allegory are representing. The cave refers to our current restricted existence. Sun represents the unchanging, great...


Shadows are the false representations of the actual reality. Fire in this case is flawed knowledge. Journey upwards is the journey of the soul to the world of enlightenment. Initial blindness refers to suspension of delusion. Education means actual knowledge. Fetter is one's power of imagination that interferes with reception of true knowledge. Light from the upper world is true knowledge, which cannot be received by prisoners because they are chained. Prisoners are people who have not yet received true knowledge and thus represent most of the people in this world.
Plato believes that human beings possess intrinsic knowledge, which may never affect their senses unless they seek and acquire enlightenment. This is an interesting concept, which dispels the notion that educators can impart knowledge to their students. He maintains that knowledge is something, which lies dormant in our subconscious and can only be activated through light of truth. In the cave, however this is something close to impossible because prisoners here are chained in such a manner that they cannot receive light from upper world. All they can see are the shadows of their fellow human beings with the help of fire that burns somewhere close to them. This fire is false knowledge that we have been forced to acquire in the absence of greater truth. In other words, man needs fire to see objects when actual daylight is missing. This means fire is not real light, it is sought and needed only when man cannot discover actual source of light. This actual source is the sun, which cannot be seen by the prisoners because they live in an underground den. Sun is thus…

Sources Used in Documents:


1) Plato Allegory of the Cave: Excerpt accessed online 15th Feb 2005:

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