Allegory of the Cave

The Allegory of the Cave is an imaginary, fictitious scenario, described by Plato, in the form of an intellectual dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon.

Contemplate an underground cave inhabited by prisoners since childhood; their necks and legs restrained by chains which prevent any movement other than glaring at a wall ahead.

Socrates goes on to say, the prisoners can observe shadows, projected on the wall carrying various items and if able to converse, they would name what they were seeing. These shadows are all they will ever see and the piece further suggests, the prisoners believe them to be the most real things in the world.

Plato invokes the imagination and sense of feeling when describing the situation of the prisoners when released from their shackles and compelled to stand up, look around and walk towards the light from the blazing fire. This form of movement and vision being extremely painful and distressing and the affliction will further trouble him when he now realises what he saw before was an illusion and now he is approaching a more real existence and accurate vision.

The dialogue further explores the prisoners feelings as a result of this new vision, which was unknown prior to release. Despite the conflict in his mind, the piece suggests, he will grow accustomed to his sight of the new world. His life within the confines of the cave was nothing but a fallacy. Now on an intellectual journey, Plato explains how the freed pioneer discovers real shadows, reflections and beauties of the world.

The account proceeds to say how he remembers his old abode and fellow-prisoners and what he knows now, as their pitiful state. He wishes he could liberate them from their unaware state. The piece explores, if he was to return to his former state in the cave, he would rather tolerate anything than to follow the false and miserable beliefs of the prisoners again.

Furthermore, Plato encourages humanity to think of the freed prisoner’s efforts to...