Monday, February 02, 2015

Plato's Cave

Next week's Philosophy session is about Plato's cave so I've done a little research..


It seems that  one of the really  big events in early Philosophy (actually of all time) is the idea of Plato's Cave, surprisingly it remains current around 2,500 years after it's first outing and has interpretations that include those that see it as a call to a deity and a justification for the veneration of philosophers.

The story is in The Republic and is outlined here, I will though paraphrase some of what I have found out about the concept.

Socrates is the device that Plato uses to narrate the story, Socrates tells Glaucon (a young follower of Socrates and actually Plato's older brother) about a group of prisoners who are chained in a cave and as if in a simple cinema the chained prisoners can see only shadows of the outside world as fire casts the image on the cave wall.

One of the prisoners escapes and gets out when he comes back and explains that he now knows what really causes the shadows
The remaining prisoners end up killing the returnee because he told them that things that turn their existence upside down.
One interpretation of this is that it means is that people are afraid of anything different, or perhaps even the truth.


An analysis of the story can be that the people in the cave are everyday people who think they are seeing real things when they are only seeing the shadows of things. The Philosopher turns from the senses and begins to investigate the realm of ideas. The realm of appearance only contains opinion and error. Knowledge is only possible in the realm of ideas. The Philosopher does not remain in the world of ideas, but comes back to his fellow men and tries to show them that the world of truth awaits them if they will only listen to him and follow him.
Would such change be un-remarked on in Ancient Greece?

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