Essay the Allegory of the Cave

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Updated: Mar 19, 2019
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Imagine a world without the distractions in daily living, close family or friends, love, religion, and other traditional things that raises our society upon. This is the style of life that Plato thought society should act in order to function to relate more to a perfect environment. Plato portrays this idea into a story called “The Allegory of the Cave,” using prisoners to resemble society. For society to eliminate all of the obligations in their lives would be very difficult but Plato had motivation to make it happen. Before suppressing Plato’s ideas, one must consider the positive effects of adapting to a new lifestyle and learning the Theory of Forms. Plato believed that the knowledge that was being received was artificial and had the same value as an individual’s opinion. The philosopher attempts to teach many individuals that human perception can trick the senses and authentic knowledge can only be achieved through philosophical reasoning. By creating the “Allegory of the Cave” story, Plato says he is contrasting “The effect of education and the lack of it on our nature.” Plato starts his story by telling us of the three prisoners in the cave not able to turn their heads, and not exposed to natural light, figures, or colors.

The thought of how the prisoners were living in the cave absent of reality is how Plato sees society today. The prisoners saw images casted upon the wall and were interested in them. They believe that these shadows are real and the more time spent studying these objects, the more likely you are to be successful. The prisoners confidently talk about the shadows and believe they are full of wisdom. A prisoner breaks loose and sees the world truly and so the fascinating forms. Plato says in his own words, “Previously he had been looking merely at phantoms; now he is nearer to the true nature of being.” The prisoner is being described or symbolised as enlightened and has the ability to learn true knowledge now. Plato attempts to inform society that individuals are able to able to learn the beauty of the forms but they have to escape the cave of distractions first. The most difficult part of being enlightened is to leave the cave. Individuals are fooled into thinking that the life they are living is the best life that could be refusing any other ideas. When the escaped prisoner returned to the cave to inform the others about the trees, creatures, space, and real sun, they thought he was crazy and did not take him seriously. For most of everyone’s life they are living in the cave being fooled into fake reality. It’s the culture that society grows up in that places the individual in the cave.

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The parents and schools who teach their kids false things, the desire to find the perfect lover, and religions forcing thoughts upon one idea. These ideas are not real but only images displayed on the cave wall of our fooled minds. Through listening to Plato and working together to discovering the true forms of life, the world will be built more as a unit and reveal a true sense of fulfillment in life. Although this idea might be true, it could be dangerous the way you approach it to people. In the story, the prisoner abruptly forced all of the information on the others at one time and made them furious leading to danger. Plato knew from the past that people did not want to hear they were wrong from the philosopher who educated him, Socrates. Socrates kept demanding that his way was right and if not followed it then you are a fool. Socrates was eventually killed and that changed the way Plato wanted to inform others. He believed that admitting the ignorance of an idea and growing the idea with someone who knows a little more would result in the best outcome. This is not how the prisoner acted and might have received a different result if he had approached the situation the correct way.

The prisoners did not act in denial because the believed the escaped on was absolutely wrong, they just did not want to admit that they were wrong and needed change. This relates to how people act today, they deny any other ways because their way is best. This is a huge reason on why the world is split up into different countries. Plato says we should grow off of each other and find the absolute truth together instead of proving our ignorant ways work the best. Philosophers such as Aristotle might disagree with this idea and say that reality is not in forms but is in life. Aristotle believes our senses are one of the special things about life and is true and not artificial. Aristotle believed in human truth and did not think we needed to find reality but govern it the correct way. Although this could be true, many would experience life differently without obligations. Aristotle thought that we needed family and close relationships but they raise individuals into the current culture blinding them of reality. Aristotle also confidently trusted and defended our senses when they can often be tricked.

All of these thoughts differed from Plato’s view on life but Plato showed that our senses could be tricked and believed if our senses were tricked by something small like seeing a puddle of water on a hot day, then they could be tricked into what we suppose reality is like today. He also explains that they are being tricked with the help of the cultures that raise individuals. Plato’s ideas on forms is a strong argument to put forth on such a ignorant world. The story, “The Allegory of the Cave” relates so much to society in present day that it is scary to see how easily a mind could be tricked. The story of the cave and the information on how to be enlightened should be taught around the world so slowly we can form a healthy culture that desires the forms in life. The information should not be forced upon society but gently drifting society away from false living. Plato is a genius for creating the story to help form an image, it is society’s turn to accept and spread the ideas in the story.

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Essay The Allegory of the Cave. (2019, Mar 19). Retrieved from