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What is truth? This is a very simple question but one which has complex answers. The truth is often based entirely on fact or reality. Around two thousand years ago, a great philosopher Plato wrote “The Allegory of The Cave”, which is a meaningful and helpful allegory for the entire society. It is of the essence to understand that the allegory still plays a part in the current contemporary society. The allegory of the cave focuses on individuals who are entrapped in a cave.
Plato continues to advance that there is minimal lighting in the cave. The lighting is minimal and is meant to ensure that the cave people can see the reflection of their own shadows. Therefore, the individuals in the cave live knowing that the images are real. However, some of the individuals leave the cave. They are hit by sunlight. The individuals realize that the light from the sun alters the perception of objects. They end up feeling sorry for their fellows who are left in the caves. This is because they know that their friends will never know the difference from the cave and the outside world. However, even then the individuals who come out to the sun have difficulty in adjusting to the lighting system.
The shadows on the wall of the caves were based on the images of the individuals who lived in the caves. Since the individuals in the cave had not left the cave, they were privy to the wisdom and knowledge at their disposal. Consequently, at that time the shadows seemed to reflect their nature (Anderson 84). Therefore, the individuals in the cave belied that the shadows were indeed real. Moreover, an attempt by the people in the cave to shift their heads indicated that the shadows also shifted in position.
This was further evident, to the individuals, in the cave that the shadows were real. The shadows in the cave allegory gave the notion of realism amongst the individuals in the cave. This essay will develop the process of Plato’s allegory into three parts; the cave and guessing game, releasing prisoner, and returning to the cave. These processes represent perception, education, and responsibility.
The truth sometimes is beyond observation and consciousness. According to the article, Plato introduces that human beings lived in the cave as prisoner, their necks, arms, and legs were chained since they were children. Additionally they could not turn around because their heads were forced against the wall. There were several guards behind them and they were talking and carrying puppets. For this reason, shadows of casts will be appeared on the wall.
Plato metaphorized prisoners as common people, and the chains on prisoner as the limitation of seeing the truth. Sometimes, people believe what they see or what they feel is the truth, but the reality is behind them. They are not allowed to turn around to see the truth (Soccio 47). For example, In United States people might believe that Asian drivers are bad drivers, however, these are just perpetuated stereotypes and the truth is different. In fact, from my experiences most of them are driving carefully and observantly.
In addition, Plato describes the game of guessing, prisoners would guess what will be the next object on the wall, and the winner would receive the respect from other prisoners (Riley, 64). This particular situation indicates that how people believe one person could be a master when they have knowledge of empirical world; however, the master does not authentically know the truth, and it is sometimes foolhardy to admire such a person. Back to today, there are many people act as a master, and people are blindly admiring them.
Education is the key of finding the truth. Pursuing education should be the most important thing for human beings because knowledge is the most powerful weapon to distinguish the truth and falsehood. According to the article, Plato describes the release of one prisoner from the cave and he had the opportunity to discover the world outside the cave. Although, the prisoner did not believe the true reality of what he had seen in the outside world, he got used to it and realized that the former surrounding view was not the real reality (Soccio, 29).
From here, the prisoner’s story represents that if a person surrounding by a new environment or knowledge he/she needs enough time to adapt the new environment or learn the new knowledge. For example, a student who is willing to learn programming language but no background is existing. He/she would suffer for a while; however, if he/she had enough time to adapt the new studying environment and acquire knowledge he/she would learn this new skill efficiently.
The definition of responsibility is the fact of having obligation to deal with something or help someone. It can be further described as sense of duty for the entire society or people. According to the article, the released prisoner returned to cave hoping to rescue others, but those prisoners did not believe him even want to kill him. In other words, he felt that he had responsibility for the people who did not know the truth. He was willing to tell everybody what the reality was and that it was the truth (Riley 94).
Despite failing, his actions truly indicate the sense of obligation for the prisoners who were still in the cave. Plato metaphorized a person who has more knowledge or power should have more responsibility to the society and people. For example, United States is most powerful and liberal country in the world, so it has more responsibility as compared to other nations. Additionally, United States is always trying to eradicate terrorists in order to protect us. This is the sense of duty that Plato provided in his allegory. In addition, even the movie “Spiderman” mentioned how important the responsibility is. Spiderman says that “with great power comes great responsibility.” If one person becomes stronger and better, he/she would concern more about the entire society and people.
In conclusion, the visible world in the analogy of the divided line corresponds to the perception of the men living in the cave. In the first place, the perception of the men living in the cave was limited to the shadows that were before them. On the other hand, the visible world, as denoted by the analogy of the divided line, ahs a portion (A-B) that seeks to assert that people believe in shadows and reflections. This implies that the visible world was characterized by the aspect of illusion because of the shadows and reflections. The shadows and reflections were based on the actual physical objects. Therefore, like the cave allegory, reflections and shadows depict illusion and appearance. Therefore, the theme of education, perception and responsibility is perpetuated in the allegory of the cave.
Anderson, Albert A. Mythos and Logos: How to Regain the Love of Wisdom. New York: Rodopi Copyright, 2004. Print.
Riley, Michael W. Plato's Cratylus: argument, form, and structure. New York: Rodopi Copyright, 2005. Print.
Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy. Mason:Ohio: Cenage Learning, 2013. Print.
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