Study Questions: Plato's Allegory of the Cave
1. According to Socrates, what does the Allegory of the Cave represent?
2. What are the key elements in the imagery used in the allegory?
3. What are some things the allegory suggests about the process of enlightenment or education?
4. What do the imagery of "shackles" and the "cave" suggest about the perspective of the cave dwellers or prisoners?
5. In society today or in your own life, what sorts of things shackle the mind?
6. Compare the perspective of the freed prisoner with the cave prisoners?
7. According to the allegory, lack of clarity or intellectual confusion can occur in two distinct ways or contexts. What are they?
8. According to the allegory, how do cave prisoners get free? What does this suggest about intellectual freedom?
9. The allegory presupposes that there is a distinction between appearances and reality. Do you agree? Why or why not?
10. If Socrates is incorrect in his assumption that there is a distinction between reality and appearances, what are the two alternative metaphysical assumptions?
Analysis of Plato's Allegory of the Cave Essay example
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Analysis of Plato's Allegory of the Cave
Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" presents a vision of humans as slaves chained in front of a fire observing the shadows of things on the cave wall in front of them. The shadows are the only "reality" the slaves know. Plato argues that there is a basic flaw in how we humans mistake our limited perceptions as reality, truth and goodness. The allegory reveals how that flaw affects our education, our spirituality and our politics.
The flaw that Plato speaks about is trusting as real, what one sees - believing absolutely that what one sees is true. In The Allegory of the Cave, the slaves in the caves know that the shadows, thrown on the wall by the fire behind them, are real. If they were to…show more content…
The people must teach the others of the reality outside of the cave, outside of the slaves' reality. These are the philosophers. The capacity to learn exists in the soul. Humans need to use their whole soul to learn, not just use their eyes. Plato writes, "the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from the darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being." (Jacobus 320).
According to Plato, human beings misperception about "reality" also affects one's spiritual growth. When the slave makes the ascent and sees the sun, he might mistake it for God. Plato writes, "He will then argue that this [the sun] is he, the guardian of...the visible world...the cause of all things" (Jacobus 318). Having moved from darkness into light, the slave comes to the conclusion that this bright light must be God. Plato argues that one?s soul holds knowledge of what is true. When one learns, one simply remembers. People originate from Heaven where they knew the truth. In the Bible it states, "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (Corinthians II, 4:16). One is renewed day by day by remembering things that their soul knows, but that they have forgotten.