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The Allegory of the Cave

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Taylor Gentzkow

on 27 March 2014

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Transcript of The Allegory of the Cave

To Leave the wall or not to leave the wall?
Because we are chained to the wall we believe the figures they represent
according to Plato there are times when one pulls away from the wall and breaks free because we want to see the real world and what it truly is
others want to hold us back and remain chained to the wall
Because they are chained to the wall they are afraid of what could be behind us, because we never really look to see what is there
We are content with what we have because you think that the information you are receiving is the truth. We may or may not be afraid of the unknown
Breaking free from the wall would change our perceptions about the world and expose us to what we can truly experience
Author is Plato (born 428 BCE)
Known as a student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle
Most of what we know about Socrates comes from Plato's writings, many of which are constructed as dialogue between Socrates and his students
Concerned with how we should act, but also with how we know, who we are and what is true

Representation- a story or image- that dramatizes abstract ideas
A kind of story in which what happens is being compared to something else that is similar and unstated
What does this have to do with anything?
The allegory of the Cave features the problem of unawareness and ignorance.
The prisoners think they know the real truth but are completely ignorant to what goes on in the light
Lower world shows what we perceive through our senses and the upper world exposes us to the truth
Allegory of the Cave
human beings living in an underground den
opens up toward the light and has a mouth reaching all along the den
their legs and necks are chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads
above them is a fire in the distance and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised way
low wall built along the way like a screen that puppeteers use
most of the prisoners do not talk and only see their shadows
no one wants to leave and they think that the shadows are the real truth
The Allegory of the Cave
What is an Allegory?
Which of the following best describes the tone of the passage?
a. Choleric and Derisive
b. Contemptuous and Haughty
c. Learned and Informative
d. Patronizing and Sarcastic
e. Petty and Jovial
In paragraph 55, the word "ascend" refers to
a. Obtaining knowledge and truth
b. Dying and going to heaven
c. Ruling as king
d. Reflecting
e. Obtaining riches and climbing the social ladder
Discussion Questions
1) How do we decipher which truth is the real truth? How do we define truth?
2) What is the cave like in our own world?
3) Do you have the power to shape your own beliefs? If not who shapes your beliefs? In what ways is this good? in what ways is this bad?
4) How do we accept the things we don't know or understand going forward? Should we help those that don't want to be helped?

Which one of these things does Plato NOT compare in this essay
a. The material world to the world of ideas
b. the life of the mind to the work of governing
c. silver and gold to virtue and wisdom
d. freedom of expression and life chained to the wall
What was the reaction of the prisoners to the enlightened one?
a. ask if they can go with him next time
b. praise him for finding his way
c. there is no enlightened one
d. call him a fool and resist leaving the chains
Plato's allegory of the cave can be seen as a metaphor for
a. prison and its effect on eyesight
b. The search for the true and the good through philosophy
c. life and death
d. The need to always adhere to conventional ideas
Full transcript