Imagine only knowing life inside of a dark cave, your body chained, and only being able to see shadows in front of you. What you interpret of these shadows is the only reality you ever get to experience. Can you imagine living like this? Maybe, not physically to this extreme, but during our childhood we live in the darkness.
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We are kept away from the reality of most of life’s challenges, from our parents. It is not until we start to become of age, that we are exposed to reality. In The Allegory of the Cave, Plato demonstrate his philosophical views on the world and perception. Plato’s argument is, If we rely on our perceptions to know the truth about the world, then we will know very little about it. In order to live ethically, it is essential to know what is true and, therefore, what is important beyond the world of sensory perception (pg 866). In my opinion, Plato’s strong use of logos, pathos, and ethos has effectively persuade me to identify with his mindset.
In a short summary, the allegory is about a cave with human beings living in it since they were infants. The humans are chained from their necks and legs. They are only able to see what is in front of them. They have fire blazing in the back. In between the fire and human there is a low wall. There are other humans passing by with vessels, statues, and figures of animals. This causes the humans that are chained to see shadows. The humans that are chained name what they think the shadows are. Eventually, one man is freed and goes up into the upper world and is able to see reality through his own eyes. He goes back down into the cave and tells the others. The others think he has lost his mind and threatened to kill him. In the allegory, the prisoner that leaves the case is like the philosopher who can perceive reality in a different way than others can. It describes the limitations that human beings bring on to themselves. Human beings will be prisoned in their perception of what they feel reality is. This allegory is centuries old, but is one of Plato’s most famous work.
Plato was an educated man who was strongly influenced by his mentor Socrates. Socrates was a well known philosopher who was killed unjustly. He was sentenced to death because he was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens (pg 865). During the time that this took place, it was difficult for politics in Athens. After the unjustly death of Socrates, Plato withdrew himself from the public and focused on his writing and an academy he founded. Plato’s most famous work is written in dialogue form.
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