Essay about the Allegory of the Cave

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Updated: Mar 14, 2023
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Imagine a world of shadows. Three prisoners are faced to the wall and can’t move. They have been there since birth and don’t know anything about the outside world. In Plato’s opinion, these would be the common people, the masses. Behind them is a fire, and they only see the shadows, meaning that the masses aren’t very knowledgeable. One prisoner escapes and comes back to tell the others about the real world, but the others don’t believe him.

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These would be the educated people trying to enlighten the commoners. In my opinion, he was right about the rigid opinions people tend to have but I disagree that the common people are not knowledgeable enough to make their own decisions. The allegory of the cave was trying to convey the idea that most people are comfortable being ignorant and they are hostile to changing their views. Socrates points that out when the freed prisoner comes back, and the others refuse to believe him and resist being freed. I agree with Plato on this aspect as it’s a part of today’s society too. For example, most people choose to follow the news that fits their opinions, rather than read something unbiased or challenging their views. Humans are very rigid in their thinking. We prefer information which agrees with our preexisting beliefs, thus making it hard for us to be objective.

The prisoners believe that the shadows real say that people believe what they see. They don’t usually take the time to think deeply or objective. I agree with this side of Allegory of the Cave because we tend to believe what we’re told and we’re shown without taking the time to critically analyze it. Most prejudices and stereotypes are formed this way. For example, after 9/11 there’s a fear of Muslims and a lot of prejudices against them. If people took more time to analyze Islam, they would realize it’s a religion promoting peace but because of the terrorist attack, it’s now wrongly associated with violence. This shows how common people tend to superficial. Through the allegory of the cave, Plato also argues that the masses are incapable of governing themselves. He claims that the average citizens are too stubborn and ignorant to be able to make good decisions, thus they should be governed by a small number of educated people. I disagree with Plato on this aspect as even though the average citizen may not be the most educated or critical thinker, he/she knows their position the best. For example, the majority of politicians come from higher social classes. Even though, they might get a better education than the average citizen, they aren’t as familiar with their economic or social struggle, which makes them less empathetic to the commoner’s problems.

Therefore the common person has more insight and knowledge on the “cave’s problems”, making him, or her more eligible to make these decisions. Plato also argues that the prisoners aka the common people only see the shadows of reality. They create meanings for what they see that aren’t true and are overall left in the dark of any aspect of real life. This argument isn’t valid anymore as the competence of masses dramatically changed in time. Nowadays, the majority of the population has been “out of the cave”. A big part of the society has received basic education and given the option to think critically and form their own opinions. Therefore the majority of the population should be knowledgeable enough about what’s good for them, even though it’s a rigid opinion. The common people’s analytical abilities indeed are not the most flexible, but nowadays they are more developed. Plato used to the Allegory of the Cave to argue that commoners can’t govern themselves by critiquing masses abilities to have a real perspective of the world. However, the masses will always have enough critical skills to know what’s best for them.

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Essay About The Allegory Of The Cave. (2021, Jul 10). Retrieved from