Plato's Allegory of the Cave

The Allegory of the Cave is a figure conceived by Plato to illustrate the way ‘how our nature is enlightened or unenlightened.’ Humanity is seen to be in an underground den having the legs and the necks chained; they cannot move and only see what is before them. Above and behind them there is a fire blazing at a distance. They see only their shadows, the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave. In a situation like this the truth for humanity is ‘nothing but the shadows of the images.’
When one of them is liberated and walk towards the light outside the cave he will feel the ‘distress and the pain in the eyes.’ He realizes that what he saw before was an illusion. Now he is approaching ‘nearer to being.’ ‘His eye is turned towards more real existence. Finally he will arrive ‘into the presence of the sun.’
This epistemological allegory is explained by Plato as follows: the prison house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, the journey upwards is the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world. This ascent from ‘the below into the light’ is with the final purpose of returning into the den to help others to come out ‘into the light.’ This movement ‘from the world of becoming into the that of being’ is the responsibility of the leaders of the State. It is expected that they who ‘have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth’ now ‘must go down to the underground abode’ and help others to ascent ‘into the world of being.’


Bibliography
Plato. The Republic. tr. Benjamin Jowett. http://classics.mit.edu//Plato/republic.html.
blog comments powered by Disqus