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Plato's The Allegory Of The Cave Analysis

By Expert Author: Ronald Richardson

The Allegory of the Cave is an allegory as written by Plato, one of the most notorious ancient Greek philosophers, in a fruitful attempt to illustrate the true essence of life and he core meaning of being alive. The fictional dialogue between Plato's brother, Glaucon, and Plato's mentor and another leading figure in ancient Greece, Socrates, guide readers step-by-step to the light and reality that comes through knowledge and willingness to seek the truth. Through their dialogue, Plato tries to depict people's ignorance of the real truth surrounding them and the importance of education in one's life, in order to open the doors and escape illusions as people live them daily.
In this imaginary scenario, there are people that have been living in a cave all their lives, chained and taking the shapes created by a fire burning behind them, which they are unable to see or know of its existence, as real objects. They have come to terms that the real world is the shadows and the perceptions they give to its tricks. As a result, they lead a life that lacks motive for living and anticipating good things to happen, which in turns makes them susceptible to passiveness and indifference, when regarding life.
One could attempt to make a comparison of those chained people that have embraced their cave's reality and abide by it their entire lives, with those that just accept what they have been told and show no desire whatsoever to explore life further than meeting their basic needs. Truth and knowledge don't matter to them and only seek immediate experiences. The unfortunate is that they never understand the illusions and the tricks played by the "fire" and cannot either appreciate their limitations or realize they have been living in a solely restricting world, where reality is rather blurred and distorted.
Plato's next point, via the voice of Socrates, comes from the hypothetical question related to how those imprisoned people would react, had they been informed of a whole new different world, where the sun shines, or even if they could simply see the fires burning behind their backs. Leaving one's bondage and let their self out of the "cave" would most likely have two outcomes. A part of people having given the chance to face the light and the world outside the cave might be frightened and would feel the urge to turn back inside the "safety" of their caves. Yes, they feel safe inside the dark cave where fire takes command and projects images perceived differently by those inside, since it is a condition those people took for granted during their lifespan. It takes a lot of courage to break the chains and accept there is another reality, embrace it and start new. Being willing to seek for truth is the second option that includes those that would look at the sun, question their previous lives and finally realize the world at its true dimension.
The power of knowledge is profound, as showcased through the Allegory of the Cave and as every allegory its interpretation has caused much controversy over the years. However, most analysts agree that Plato wanted to demonstrate how people can easily be blinded by limitations, as oppressed by themselves. The only way out of this twisted reality is truth-seeking and knowledge that would eventually lead to wisdom. Another point that needs to be highlighted is the fact that truth cannot be told. Those chained people had to get outside and see the sun to realize the real world. Belief and faith can only be experienced. When philosophical enlightenment occurs a man welcomes the bright beams of sun and is eager to pass on his knowledge to other people that might be experiencing the same shadowed and twisted perceptions of truth.

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