Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" - Analysis and Summary

973 Words Sep 10th, 2007 4 Pages
Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" - Analysis and Summary

The "Allegory of the Cave" by Plato represents an extended metaphor that is to contrast the way in which we perceive and believe in what is reality. The thesis behind his allegory is the basic opinion that all we perceive are imperfect "reflections" of the ultimate Forms, which subsequently represent truth and reality. In his story, Plato establishes a cave in which prisoners are chained down and forced to look upon the front wall of the cave. In "Allegory of the Cave" there there are two elements to the story; the fictional metaphor of the prisoners, and the philosophical opinion in that the allegory is supposed to represent, hence presenting us with the allegory itself.

The
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Plato describes the vision of the real truth to be "aching" to the eyes of the prisoners, and how they would naturally be inclined to going back and viewing what they have always seen as a pleasant and painless acceptance of truth. This stage of thinking is noted as "belief." The comfort of the perceivement, and the fear of the unrecognized outside world would result in the prisoner being forced to climb the steep ascent of the cave and step outside into the bright sun.

Once the prisoner climbs out of the cave and is fully immersed in the sun's rays, Socrates continues to explain the prisoner's bewilderment, fear, and blindness to the objects he was now being told were real. The natural reaction of the prisoner would be to recognize shadows and reflections. After his eyes adjust to the sunlight, he begins to see items and people in their own existence, outside of the cave. When the prisoner looks up to the sky and looks into the Sun, and recognizes it as the cause of all that is around him—he has perceived the "Form of the Good!" This point in the passage marks the climax, as the prisoner, who not long ago was blind to the "Form of the Good" (as well as the basic Forms in general), now is aware of reality and truth. When this has occurred, the ultimate stage of thought has been achieved, and that is
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