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Essay on The Allegory of the Cave in Plato's Republic

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The Allegory of the Cave in Plato's Republic

This paper discussed The Allegory of The Cave in Plato's Republic, and tries to unfold the messages Plato wishes to convey with regard to his conception of reality, knowledge and education.

THE ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE

Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" is a story that conveys his theory of how we come to know, or how we attain true knowledge. It is also an introduction into his metaphysical and ethical system. In short, it is a symbolic explanation of his "Theory of the Forms" (or eidos).
In a cavern some people experience a strange confinement, for they are chained so they can look forward only at the wall of the cave. At their backs, a fire burns which they never are able to see.
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For they would be taking the terms in their language to refer to the shadows that pass before their eyes, rather than to the real things that cast the shadows.
A summary interpretation of the allegory's meaning cannot be better or more concisely stated than in Socrates' addition: "the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upward to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual worlds" So, to be very clear on one point of possible confusion, the blinding sun of the allegory is not the real sun, but a symbol for the good.
The cave allegory also proves that the role of education is not to teach in the sense of feeding people information they do not have, but rather to shed light on things they already know. Education "isn't the craft of putting sight into the soul. Education takes for granted that sight is there but that it isn't turned the right way or looking where it ought to look, and it tries to redirect it properly." (2)
The concept of duty and service are addressed in response to the objection raised by Glaucon. While contemporary philosophers are, for the most part, self-taught, they have no obligation to serve their state; however, the guardians are nurtured and educated, that is, liberated, by the State, they are unshackled. Therefore, and if their probity is not enough to dictate for them, compulsory service to that which has made them
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