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Allegory of the Cave by Plato (Essay Sample)


Discussing Plato\'s article

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Allegory of the Cave by Plato
The allegory of the cave by Plato is a metaphor in the western philosophy. This beautiful allegory has been used to represent the effects of understanding in humans. In the allegory, philosophers could draw that there are two types of knowledge. The first type of knowledge is factual. This kind of knowledge is based on information which is told and is expected to be believed and accepted as the right knowledge. The second type is that knowledge which is learnt through experience. This type of knowledge usually has a personal meaning to the individual gaining it. These two types of knowledge help us understand how to develop as individuals and contribute in a community.
As Plato (360 B.C.E) alleges, these two types of knowledge represent the reality of the two aspects of our lives. As in the allegory, the first type of knowledge in a human is based on what they are taught to believe is true by others. This could be compared to the situation when the prisoners in the allegory are chained facing the wall of the cave. As they believed the images and sounds made by the puppeteers to be their only reality, we too believe everything that we are told to be the only reality before personally experiencing it.
On the other hand, the second type of knowledge is based on the real life experiences. Just as in the cave the prisoners progress in their understanding of reality after being exposed to the fire and puppeteers and then to the sun, our experiences continue to progress as we continue to explore different areas of the world (Plato 360 B.C.E). This allegory could be interpreted in different areas of life. They include personal, religious, and political.
In the personal interpretation, most individuals have a familiar order of their lives that they believe to accept as happy, comfortable, and fulfilling. However, to someone else, it could be viewed as dull, boring, and not innovative. The authenticity of this kind of life could be compared to a kid’s life. This is similar to the reality of the shadows cast by the puppeteers while they spend their lives facing the wall (Plato 360 B.C.E). In reality, a person who questions the normal and expected lifestyle is ridiculed and condemned. However, individuals should learn to question the normal and have the urge to venture into unguarded territories. This aids in their experiences enabling them gain more knowledge about worldly matters.
In the political sense, the allegory would represent most of the ignorant individuals who find solace in logic and reasonable thinking. The politician on the other hand represents the puppeteer who manipulates and controls what the prisoners are allowed to see. Whatever they show their victims, it becomes their only reality. However, as Plato (360 B.C.E) tries to explain, the subjects should try to examine different possibilities and venture deeply through research and avoid believing everything that politicians say.
The cave metaphor can also be examined on religious grounds. In the cave, the existence of a higher power is limited to the prisoners. They believe that the cast shadows are the ultimate truth, but the reality is that their imagination is exceedingly li...
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