Plato's allegory of the cave

8. In Plato's allegory of the cave, you encounter one of the most powerful philosophical ways to deal with the problem of reality. Give a brief account of the allegory, explaining the main symbols and their meanings. Explain how this allegory allows you to deal with problem of reality, and develop your own interpretation of this problem.

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Solution Preview, Plato described symbolically the predicament in which mankind finds itself and proposes a way of salvation. The Allegory presents, in brief form, most of Plato's major philosophical assumptions: his belief that the world revealed by our senses is not the real world but only a poor copy of it, and that the real world can only be apprehended intellectually; his idea that knowledge cannot be transferred from teacher to student, but rather that education consists in directing student's minds toward what is real and important and allowing them to apprehend it for themselves; his faith that the universe ultimately is good; his conviction that enlightened individuals have an obligation to the rest of society, and that a good society must be one in which the truly wise (the Philosopher-King) are the rulers.

Thus, in the Platonian sense, we develop our own interpretation through apprehending reality for ourselves, rather than being told what something it is.

Further expansion: The Allegory of the Cave

1. Plato realizes that the general run of humankind can think, and speak, etc., without (so far as they acknowledge) any awareness of his realm of Forms.

2. The allegory of the cave is supposed to explain this.

3. In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are ...