Definitions

Plato’s allegory of the cave lesson/Summary/Interpretation

Cave myth is a metaphor created by the Greek philosopher Plato. History is an attempt to explain the condition of ignorance in which human beings live, imprisoned by the senses and prejudices that prevent knowledge of the truth. Plato’s allegory of the cave lesson

Also known as Allegory of the Cave or Plato’s Cave , this story is present in Book VII of The Republic. The text is a series of dialogues written by Plato about knowledge, language and education for the construction of an ideal state.

The Myth of the Cave is one of the most debated philosophical texts known to mankind. In it are the foundations of Platonic thought, the concept of common sense as opposed to critical sense and the search for true knowledge.

The life inside the cave represents the sensible world, the one experienced from the senses, where the false perception of reality resides. Plato’s allegory of the cave lesson

While the exit from the cave represents the search for the truth, the so-called intelligible world , reached only through the use of reason.

Cave Myth Summary

In the text, Plato creates a dialogue between Socrates and the young Glaucus. Socrates asks Glaucon to imagine a group of people who lived in a large cave, with their arms, legs and necks bound by chains and facing the wall at the back of the cave.

Behind these people, there was a fire and other individuals were carrying objects, which had their shadows projected on the cave wall, where the prisoners were watching.

As they were imprisoned, the prisoners could see only the shadows of the images, judging those projections to be reality itself.

Once, one of the people trapped in this cave manages to break free of the chains and go out into the outside world. At first, the sunlight and the diversity of colors and shapes frighten the ex-prisoner, making him want to go back to the cave. Plato’s allegory of the cave lesson

However, over time, he came to be amazed by the many new developments and discoveries he made. So, out of compassion, he decides to return to the cave and share with the other prisoners all the information about the outside world.

The people in the cave, however, did not believe what the ex-prisoner was saying and called him crazy. To prevent their ideas from drawing others into the “dangers of insanity,” the prisoners killed the fugitive.

Interpretation of the Myth of the Cave

For Plato, the cave symbolized the world where all human beings live. The shadows projected within it represent the falseness of the senses, while the currents signify the prejudices and opinion that imprison human beings in ignorance and common sense.

Plato describes the importance of critical sense and reason so that individuals can “free themselves from the chains” and seek true knowledge, represented by the world outside the cave. Plato’s allegory of the cave lesson

The prisoner who breaks free from the chains and returns to help his peers means the role of the philosopher, the one who aims to free as many people as possible from ignorance.

The tragic outcome of the ex-prisoner is a reference to what happened to his master, Socrates. Accused of corrupting the youth with his questioning thinking, the philosopher tried and sentenced to death by the Athenians.

The Myth of the Cave draws attention for keeping up to date. Plato’s allegory can be interpreted as a criticism of those who, out of laziness or lack of interest, do not question reality and accept the ideas imposed by a dominant group. Plato’s allegory of the cave lesson

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