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Allegory of the Cave Reflection

Essay by   •  September 18, 2011  •  Essay  •  620 Words (3 Pages)  •  6,498 Views

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The setting of Allegory of the Cave is an underground cave where humans have lived all their lives. It is dark in the cave, and sunlight is foreign to their eyes. Bound by chains, the humans are allowed only sight in one direction. Any attempt to turn the head and look elsewhere causes excruciating pain. A fire is lit on a ledge behind the prisoners, and on an intermediate ledge between the ever-glowing fire and the prisoners there is a small wall. Over this wall puppets are displayed, casting shadows on the wall in front of the prisoners. It is here that the prisoners' reality is defined. They see not the puppets but only their silhouettes. A new scenario is entertained in Allegory of the Cave: what if one prisoner were allowed access to the real world? He is taken to world above, where the sun dwells. His eyes are naturally dazzled to the point where he cannot see anything after being in the cave for so long. As time goes on his eyes adjust and he comes to the realization that he is in the real world; that the silhouettes that outlined reality for him were not but fallacies.

Philosophically, I believe this allegory is describing Plato's belief that the world we see is not the world as it actually is. The cave world silhouettes served as a cheap imitation of the real world, as the choice prisoner realized after being taken above ground. Similarly, Plato philosophized that what we perceive this world to be is just a fake, watered down version of reality. Also, the choice prisoner's 'coming to the light' is an illustration of Plato's philosophy that knowledge cannot be transferred from teacher to student. True education is pointing the student in the right direction and allowing him to comprehend and understand things for himself. The prisoner was originally perplexed when told that his former life was a lie filled with illusion, but eventually he came to understand and see things for their true form.

I share similar ponderings of the fact that the world we perceive is reality. Honestly after seeing The Matrix I have had my doubts. More intimately I think this is world is beautiful as it is and I do have a love for this reality. I don't think this world could get any more pretty, so I doubt that this is how it actually is. I think that our minds play tricks on us, because what the eye actually sees may be something gruesome, but between our conscious and unconscious minds something is lost, or purposely left in translation. At creation I have no doubt that this world was utopia, but as mankind began to ruin its beauty our conscious minds masked the damage that we did to our home. What we perceive as Mother Earth is actually an afterimage passed down through the ages. Maybe that is why we cry so much as babies; because we see the world as it truly is. We cannot yet perceive the lie, so the earth as we see it is a hideous and terrifying place. Slowly but surely ours tears are curbed, we are soothed

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