Platos Allegory Of The Cave


Platos Allegory Of The Cave Essay, Research Paper

Plato was born 427 BC and died 347 BC He was a pupil under Socrates.

During his studies, Plato wrote the Dialogues, which are a collection of Socrates’

teachings. One of the parables included in the Dialogues is “The Allegory of the

Cave”. “The Allegory…” symbolizes man’s struggle to reach understanding and

enlightenment. First of all, Plato believed that one can only learn through dialectic

reasoning and open-mindedness. Humans had to travel from the visible realm of

image-making and objects of sense to the intelligible or invisible realm of reasoning

and understanding. “The Allegory of the Cave” symbolizes this trek and how it

would look to those still in a lower realm. 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. They could not possibly comprehend another dimension without

beholdin! g it themselves, therefore, they label the enlightened man mad. For

instance, the exact thing happened to Charles Darwin. In 1837, Darwin was

traveling aboard the H.M.S. Beagle in the Eastern Pacific and dropped anchor on

the Galapagos Islands. Darwin found a wide array of animals. These differences in

animals sparked Darwin on research, which lasted well up to his death, culminating

in the publishing of The Origin of Species in 1858. He stated that had not just

appeared out of thin air, but had evolved from other species through natural

selection. This sparked a firestorm of criticism, for most people accepted the theory

of the Creation. In this way Darwin and his scientific followers parallel the escaped

prisoner. They walked into the light and saw true reality. Yet when he told the

imprisoned public what he saw, he was scoffed at and labeled mad, for all the

prisoners know and perceive are just shadows on a wall which are just gross

distortions of reality. Darwin walked the path to understanding just like the escaped

prisoner in “The Allegory of the Cave.” Plato’s parable greatly symbolizes man’s

struggle to reach the light and the suffering of those left behind who are forced to sit

in the dark and stare at shadows on a wall.

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