The Anti-Spelunker: Escaping Plato's Cave in the 21st Century

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      The Anti-Spelunker:   Escaping Plato's Cave in the 21st Century

      What causes a shadow to appear?   Even a child can answer a question as simple as this.   A light source is being blocked by an opaque object creating a distorted shape of said object where the light would normally be.   Suppose we didn't understand the concept of the shadow.   How would we explain it?   Would we look for the answers ourselves or would we accept conclusions provided by an authoritative source?   If the latter, how qualified and trustworthy are our figures of authority?   These are extremely difficult questions, but fortunately, the Greek philosopher Plato made them a bit easier to swallow with his Allegory of the Cave.   It expresses the importance of critical thinking in a society where “truth,” proposed by figures of power, is passively and ignorantly accepted rather than logically analyzed and questioned.   Plato's Cave goes back about 2,300 years, but its message is still as relevant now as it was then, if not more.   We will look at a few examples and comparisons that link this age-old tale to modern times, some of the possible and potential threats to reason, and what we can do to rediscover our natural curiosities and view our reality from different perspectives.
      In Ancient Greece, the great philosopher Socrates was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death for “corrupting the minds of the youth of Athens.”   As a student of Socrates, Plato knew the truth:   the lawmakers of Athens were deathly terrified of freethinking, for that posed a threat to their power.   Plato's Allegory of the Cave is a perfect analogy for Socrates and his trials.   In summation, the cave is filled with people imprisoned and shackled in such a way that the only thing they can see is the wall in front of them.   Behind them is a small walkway and a fire that casts a bright light upon the wall.   Unbeknown to the prisoners, there are people behind them casting shadows...