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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Plato's Allegory of the Cave

1. According to Socrates, what does the Allegory of the Cave represent?
The Allegory of the Cave represents how we perceive things around us and how people with different backgrounds have different interpretations of the same thing.

2. What are the key elements in the imagery used in the allegory?

The prisoners and their chains, the fire, the puppet shadows on the cave wall, and the reflections in water are all key elements of imagery in the allegory.

3. What are some things the allegory suggests about the process of enlightenment or education?

Plato believes that everyone is given the capacity to learn when they are born, but for most it is difficult and takes time.  The allegory shows how individuals can be "enlightened" by being brought out of a cave into the real world and being shown the life they never knew existed.

4. What do the imagery of "shackles" and the "cave" suggest about the perspective of the cave dwellers or prisoners?

The shackles and the cave represent the small capacity of reality that the cave dwellers have.  The cave represents everything that the prisoners know and the shackles are keeping them from learning more.

5. In society today or in your own life, what sorts of things shackle the mind?

Peer pressure shackles the mind.  People could know the right thing to do, but submit to peer pressure anyways in order to be accepted by those around them.

6. Compare the perspective of the freed prisoner with the cave prisoners?

The freed prisoner has been enlightened with the grace of "real life."  The prisoners can't see this because all that they know is the echoes and the shadows on the wall.  The freed prisoner just turns into another shadow for them.

7. According to the allegory, lack of clarity or intellectual confusion can occur in two distinct ways or contexts. What are they?

The first way is ignorance, the prisoners don't listen to their freed acquaintance's explanation of reality. The second in apathy, the freed prisoner shouldn't feel sorry for the prisoners that remain because the life that they are living is the only life that they know.

8. According to the allegory, how do cave prisoners get free? What does this suggest about intellectual freedom?

The prisoners can only be freed once they become open-minded.  They are freed once they are ready to be enlightened.

9. The allegory presupposes that there is a distinction between appearances and reality. Do you agree? Why or why not?

There is certainly a difference between appearance and reality.  Most things hardly ever seem as they appear.

10. If Socrates is incorrect in his assumption that there is a distinction between reality and appearances, what are the two alternative metaphysical assumptions?

One alternative assumption is that everyone has their own reality.  Another is that there is an alternative universe.

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