Essay/Term paper: Allegory of the cave
Essay, term paper, research paper: Cliff Notes
A report I had to do on Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Plato
was born 427 B.C. and died 347 B.C. He was a pupil
under Socrates. During his studies, Plato wrote the
Dialogues, which are a collection of Socrates' teachings.
One of the parables included in the Dialogues is "The
Allegory of the Cave". "The Allegory..." symbolizes man's
struggle to reach understanding and enlightenment. First of
all, Plato believed that one can only learn through dialectic
reasoning and open-mindedness. Humans had to travel from
the visible realm of image-making and objects of sense to
the intelligible or invisible realm of reasoning and
understanding. "The Allegory of the Cave" symbolizes this
trek and how it would look to those still in a lower realm.
Plato is saying that humans are all prisoners and that the
tangible world is our cave. The things which we perceive as
real are actually just shadows on a wall. Just as the escaped
prisoner ascends into the light of the sun, we amass
knowledge and ascend into the light of true reality: ideas in
the mind. Yet, if someone goes into the light of the sun and
beholds true reality and then proceeds to tell the other
captives of the truth, they laugh at and ridicule the
enlightened one, for the only reality they have ever known is
a fuzzy shadow on a wall. They could not possibly
comprehend another dimension without beholdin! g it
themselves, therefore, they label the enlightened man mad.
For instance, the exact thing happened to Charles Darwin.
In 1837, Darwin was traveling aboard the H.M.S. Beagle in
the Eastern Pacific and dropped anchor on the Galapagos
Islands. Darwin found a wide array of animals. These
differences in animals sparked Darwin on research, which
lasted well up to his death, culminating in the publishing of
The Origin of Species in 1858. He stated that had not just
appeared out of thin air, but had evolved from other species
through natural selection. This sparked a firestorm of
criticism, for most people accepted the theory of the
Creation. In this way Darwin and his scientific followers
parallel the escaped prisoner. They walked into the light and
saw true reality. Yet when he told the imprisoned public
what he saw, he was scoffed at and labeled mad, for all the
prisoners know and perceive are just shadows on a wall
which are just gross distortions of reality. Darwin walked the
path to understanding just like the escaped prisoner in "The
Allegory of the Cave." Plato's parable greatly symbolizes
man's struggle to reach the light and the suffering of those left
behind who are forced to sit in the dark and stare at
shadows on a wall.
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