Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Essay by dnsx55High School, 12th gradeA-, June 2005

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This allegory was written to show a number of things. The main point in the piece is that humankind can function without any knowledge of what is going on around them. This allegory has a number of "prisoners" trapped in a cave, without the ability to turn their heads around. All the prisoners only can see the wall in front of the cave the way which they are facing. There is a fire behind the prisoners with objects in between them and the fire. However, all the prisoners can see is the shadows on the wall, and all they can hear are the echoes that the objects make in the cave. So, what the prisoners take for reality is really just the shadows of those objects.

When things pass along the wall the prisoners comment on them, saying that they see an object when all they really see is the shadow of the object.

Plato is trying to say that what we see, and name, we can not really see. We can only grasp these things with our mind and name them. This means that people easily believe what has been put in front of them. Plato wants people to question and think more, rather then just telling what has been draped before their eyes. Most of the readings can relate to this theory because they are all trying to make us think more. Just like Plato's prisoners, we take what society has put before our eyes as the truth.