Plato's Allegory Of The Cave

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While Plato’s Republic is most commonly known for its defense of justice, the book also focuses a lot of attention on the importance of a philosophical education and the role that knowledge plays in helping to create and maintain the perfect society. As the dialogue progresses the purpose and explanation of education becomes more advanced and detailed. Socrates, Plato’s mouthpiece in the dialog, begins by describing the guardian’s education as a way to shape their character and properly look after the well being of the citizens. Socrates then goes on to explain more deeply the role of philosopher-kings and their education through the allegory of the cave. Given the role and importance of education and knowledge in society, this paper will…show more content…
The allegory is designed to represent and follow the path than an individual would follow in order to understand the good through education. He describes the inside of a dark cave where prisoners have been chained to the floor facing a wall since birth. Behind the prisoners there is a wall and fire that provides enough light to allow the puppet-masters to cast shadows of objects onto the wall in front of the prisoners. These shadows are all that the prisoners have ever known or been exposed to, since they have been in the cave since birth, so they assume that the shadows are the only true reality. At this point the allegory of the cave may appear to the reader as being a representation of the earlier form of education – one that revolves around censored stories and noble lies. The prisoners, like the children, are only exposed to the things that the rulers have designated as appropriate. Even though there is much more out there, the children and prisoners are only given a small glimpse and have no idea what actually…show more content…
When a prisoner is unchained and allowed to leave the cave for the first time, he is going to be in a lot of pain both physically and mentally; he will begin to notice things that he has never seen before. If the prisoner were to look at the sunlight coming in the cave, his eyes would be blinded and he would want to go back into the cave and return to the things that he is accustomed to seeing (Republic 515e). At this point, it would be necessary for an individual to drag the prisoner up out of the cave and force him into the sunlight until his eyes had adjusted and he was able to see the images of the world above (Republic 516a-b). By this point, the prisoner is already starting to become more educated and enlightened as he has started to realize that there is so much more to the world than what he has been exposed to up to this point. The physical objects that the prisoner encounters are representative of the different forms, and would help to educate him. The sun, being the form of the good and all that is. Once the prisoner is exposed to the good (the sun) and is able to focus on that which is, he is considered to be enlightened and is ready to return as the new leader of the city. The allegory of the cave is designed to represent the path that individuals must go through in order to become educated and enlightened (Nader

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