As Philosophy Essay
Explain Plato’s analogy of the cave.
Plato’s allegory of the Cave is possibly the most famous in all of his writings. There is not just one ‘moral to the story’ but a variety of linked points. It explains Plato’s beliefs about the relation between the world of appearances and the world of reality. The allegory of the cave makes a contrast between people who see only appearances, but mistake them for the truth, and those who really do see the truth. Plato said that the reason we can recognise and classify things in the visible world is because we have a prior understanding of them from the world of the forms.
The allegory begins with descriptions of prisoners in a cave who are only able to look straight ahead of themselves because they are chained. They have a fire behind them, and a wall in front, and the cave has a long tunnel entrance so that there is no natural daylight in the cave, only firelight. The cave conveys a sense of being trapped. The scene set in a cave emphasises that the prisoners were trapped away from ‘real life’. The cave represents the world of shadows and small minded people who do not question reality. Our task as humans is to see beyond the shadows.
For the prisoners the cave is there only reality, and it is as far removed as possible from the everyday world. The only images they see are the shadows on the wall which are not real but examples of things in the forms. They are believed to be true as this is all the prisoners know but they are made up.
The prisoners take the images they see at face value and do not question greater reality or truth, their minds are empty of philosophy and they accept everything without challenging it. The prisoner that escaped the cave in the story takes time to adjust to the sunlight outside this represents the person who gradually adjusts to seeing the world differently when they recognise the reality of the Forms exist. The prisoner begins to understand that the world...