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Slide 1

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"The Allegory of the Cave"
Notes for Thursday, February 12, 2009…read more

Slide 2

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Who is Plato?
· born 427; died 347 bc
· son of wealthy aristocrat
· called "Plato" because of his broad shoulders; was a champion
· Student of Socrates during late teens and 20s (was 28 when
Socrates died)
· Socrates' death led to Plato's distrust of democracy
· After Socrates' death, traveled for 12 years in Egypt, Italy, perhaps
· Returned to Athens in 387, ready to write and teach
· Founded "The Academy," the first formal university in the Western
world…read more

Slide 3

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Platonic ideas
· Founder of "ontological realism," an ontological view which
says: Above and beyond the everyday world of
appearances, there exists another, more perfect realm of
pure Ideas, universals, or Forms, which are the true reals or
existences: permanent, unchanging, and divine.
· The Ideas are the true existences: they define the
categories of thought and existence.
· The world of appearances is just an approximation of the
pure Ideas: that chair is a chair because it is similar to a
True Chair.…read more

Slide 4

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It is as if they were in a cave, with the sun shining into the
cave, and casting shadows on the wall; most men look at
the shadows and think they are real; but some men, the
philosophers (lovers of wisdom), turn, and realize that the
shadows are just shadows, and ascend from the cave, to
the world of true being (the Ideas or Forms); these men,
because they have been enlightened (and see the Sun in all
its Truth), have an obligation to go back in the cave and
instruct the others, to guide them, as they live in the world
of appearances.
· Philosophers are RARE; most men cannot deal with the
· Difference between true knowledge and opinion.…read more

Slide 5

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The Allegory of the Cave
· Plato realizes that the general run of
humankind can think, and speak, etc., without
(so far as they acknowledge) any awareness of
· The allegory of the cave is supposed to explain
this.…read more

Slide 6

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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 behind the prisoners, hold up puppets
that cast shadows on the wall of the cave.
· The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects,
that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are
shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see. Here is an
illustration of Plato's Cave:…read more

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