Plato's analogy of the cave

Essay by camillapalomaHigh School, 11th gradeA, November 2014

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PHILOSOPHY Camilla Werdelin

Plato's Analogy of the cave

Plato's analogy of the cave is a theory he put forward, aimed to challenge human perception. In the analogy Plato tries to differentiate between two sides of people. One side, the majority of humanity, think that what they sense is true, mistaking their senses for real knowledge. The other side are those who find the philosophical path and discover real truth & knowledge. There are several different symbols in the story which each have their own meaning, and I will be trying to explain them to find out what each symbol stands for in relation to humanity and the discovery of philosophy.

The prisoners in the analogy represent humanity, and how humanity is trapped in the conventional ethics formed by society. We would prefer to live in our own safe world, and even though we may say we want to discover the real 'truth', few people actually go out to seek it.

The prisoners are trapped in this cave, and they come to think that all the shadows they see are 'real'. They assume this because the shadows are the only objects they've seen in their life so to them they are nothing else but the truth. This represents how humanity mistakes what we see and sense as real 'knowledge' , because we grow up not being taught anything beyond that. The shadows represent what the prisoners have perceived to be 'real', and when the escaped prisoner starts telling the prisoners that they are not real, they cannot accept it. For the prisoners, to find out what they believed is real, isn't, is too hard so instead they attack the escaped prisoner. They do this to shield themselves from realising they have been delusioned their entire life. This represents the people who...