Explain Plato's Analogy of the Cave (25)
The analogy of the cave represents an extended metaphor that is to contrast the way in which we perceive and believe in what is reality. He sums up his views in an image of ignorant humanity, trapped in the depths and not even aware of its own limited perspective.
The analogy begins with a group of people who have lived in a deep cave since birth, never seeing the light of day. These people are bound so that they cannot look anywhere else but straight ahead and unable to look at the other prisoners. Behind them is a fire, and behind the fire is a partial wall. On top of the wall are various statutes, which are being manipulated by another group of people, lying out of sight behind the partial wall. Because of the fire, the statues cast shadows across the wall that the prisoners are facing. The prisoners watch the stories that these shadows play out, and because these shadows are all they ever get to see, they believe them to be the most real things in the world. The prisoners make up games to do with guessing which statue or object will come next, believing this to be a skill.
However, after many years a prisoner is freed from his bonds, and is forced to look at the fire and at the statues themselves. After an initial period of pain and confusion because of direct exposure of his eyes to the light of the fire, the prisoner realizes that what he sees now are things more real than the shadows he has always taken to be reality. He grasps how the fire and the statues together cause the shadows, which are copies of these more real things. The prisoner is scared and wants to go back to looking at the shadows with the other prisoners. Next, this prisoner is dragged out of the cave into the world above. At first, he is so dazzled by the light up there that he can only look at shadows, then at reflections, then finally at the real objects—real trees, flowers, houses and so on. He sees that these are even more real than the...