Simile of the Cave Essay
Simile of the Cave, also known as The Allegory of the Cave is from Book VII of The Republic, written by Plato in 360 B. C. Here Plato uses the analogy of a cave to put forth his beliefs and concepts on knowledge and learning.
According to Kelly Ross, ???The most enduring image of the entire Republic, as an expression of Plato’s view of life and the world, is the Allegory (or Simile) of the Cave. ??? In this book Socrates is shown talking to his young follower, Glaucon. Socrates uses the simile of a cave to make his follower understand what it means to be a philosopher and how one can attain knowledge and wisdom.Plato tells us that many of us are living in ignorance like prisoners of a cave and that one should come out of this cave through learning and knowledge. Simile of the Cave Plato in this book compares men to prisoners in a cave.
The prisoners in this cave are forced to look in one direction. In the cave there is a fire behind them. This makes them see on a wall shadows of themselves and of other objects that are behind them. They can see only these shadows and nothing else. Even the voices they hear are actually their own voice that echoes in the cave.
They consider these to be real and are not aware of anything else.However one of them escapes and comes out from the cave and sees the light of the sun. At first he is blinded by the bright light. On getting used to the bright light he is able to see various things like the plants, the trees, the sun, etc.
He realizes for the first time that he is seeing real things and what he was seeing in the cave were only shadows . However when the person returns to the cave he is blinded by the darkness of the cave and when he describes to the fellow prisoners the things he has seen outside the cave, they do not believe him and think he is insane.??Related post game of thingsThe men imprisoned in the cave still believe that the shadows they see are real and are unaware of the world outside. Plato uses this simile to explain that all of us are like prisoners in a cave and are able to see in only one direction. The cave here represents our lack of knowledge.
The men living in this cave of ignorance only see shadows and not the real truth. However when they are forced out of the cave of ignorance into the sunlight of knowledge, they are able to see clearly the objects as they are. According to Plato one has to come out from the darkness of the cave to see objects in their real perspectives.Plato through this simile also shows us the difference between things that we see through our eyes and things we perceive by reasoning or by our intelligence. The prisoner sees only the shadows of things.
He is not able to see the real things because of the darkness. Similarly an uneducated person is not in a position to think intelligently and perceive the truth because he is surrounded by the darkness of ignorance. Learning and knowledge will give him the power of reasoning and will help him to perceive things as they are.One has to move from darkness, the cave, where everything is seen as shadows to the realm outside where the objects are real. An ignorant person on learning realizes that all that he has known till now is not the truth or the real thing but just a shadow. According to Plato one can come out of this darkness through education.
Here Socrates says, ??? the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being ???. (Plato).Plato also feels that a person has to have some natural gifts in order to get educated and gain knowledge, which according to him are ???keenness and ready powers of acquisition ??????. a good memory???.
He should be ???an unwearied solid man who is a lover of labour in any line; or he will never be able to endure the great amount of bodily exercise and to go through all the intellectual discipline and study which we require of him. ??? (Plato) As Lesley Allen has rightly said, ???This highly condensed version of the allegory allows us to draw parallels with the stages of intelligence that Plato mentions elsewhere in The Republic.The first stage is that of uncertainty and conjecture; what we perceive are mere reflections and shadows???.. The second stage is where we work toward certainty.
However, we are still not recipients of true knowledge???This takes us to the third, more intellectual stage, where we look beyond particular instances and search for the true meanings of the underlying concepts. ??? In conclusion one can say that this book is for all those who want to know the importance of knowledge and education. Read about??allegory of the cave questions and answersIt is a thought provoking book and forces us to think how some people are not able to see the real truth and how some people do not perceive what is real and remain ignorant. They do not possess the ability to question. They believe what they see and refuse to use their power of reasoning to get to the real truth.
The Simile of the Cave teaches us how one should not remain ignorant but learn to reason and question and not take things at face value. This book teaches us how important it is for us to be well educated and well informed so that we will be able to perceive the real truth.Referenceshttp://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.8.vii.html