Allegory Of The Cave Can Be Summed Term Paper

Length: 3 pages Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy Type: Term Paper Paper: #43154262 Related Topics: Preamble, Plato, Enlightenment, Philosophers
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Allegory of the cave can be summed up in one single sentence. It symbolizes the place of perceptions in the pursuit of knowledge. Indeed, in a preamble to the actual relating of the allegory, Plato is involved in a discussion as to who can be considered a true philosophy. The discussion meanders around attempting to answer the following enigmas: Just because someone subscribes to a specific philosophy, does that make him or her a philosopher? Does a person who indulges in a certain muse that is premised on a philosophy -- directly or indirectly related to it -- become a philosopher? Plato goes through pains explaining that a philosopher was (or should be) cut in a different mould. A philosopher, Plato avers, should be able to see beyond what is merely obvious or superficial. A philosopher should see the inner beauty of things and understand, abstractedly, the natural causes of this beauty. In other words, the philosopher should be perceptive. In order to illustrate his arguments, Plato relates the allegory of the cave. This entire dialog, Plato, uses Socrates as his surrogate -- perhaps in a testament to this his mentor.

In the allegory, Socrates asks that we imagine prisoners in a dimly lit cave who have been shackled in such a manner as to not see another human from birth. They're only life experiences are shadows cast on the wall of the cave by people who may or may not...


The prisoners' idea of life is limited to what they perceive, intuit or conclude from seeing and hearing from these shadows. There are things going on in this cave that we do not know about. When this is the limit of our world, we are taken in by the limit of what our senses report to us. Socrates avers that we are entertained, informed, and reassured by the mundane and the sublime in our reality. We are not aware that these shadows are merely artificial.

Then, something happens to shatter life in the cave. One person is freed. He sees the fire. He is free to explore the cave. He can see his fellow prisoners. His sense of his previously held views on realism is disturbed. His long held perceptions are further shattered when he leaves the caves and experiences the world around him. His blinders fall off. His field of view improves. His experiences expand. But still old doubts linger. The individual considers rejecting everything because it looks unfamiliar, unreal, untrue, unnatural, and wrong. Yet things begin to change. The individual now realizes that there is an entire universe beyond the underground cave. He is now enlightened. Plato is saying that humans are all prisoners and that the tangible world is our cave. The things, which we perceive as real, are actually just shadows on a wall. Just as the escaped prisoner ascends into the light of the sun, we amass knowledge and ascend into the light of true reality: ideas in the mind. Yet, if someone goes into the light of the sun and beholds true reality and then proceeds to tell the other captives of the truth, they laugh at and ridicule the enlightened one, for the only reality they have ever known is a fuzzy shadow on a wall.

Philosophy, Plato/Socrates avers is the power to learn and acquire knowledge that is already held in…

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