Plato - The Cave

That man, Plato, gave a story about something called The Cave. What is it? Well, here goes...

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The story of The Cave

1) Some people are in a cave, facing a wall and are chained down. They have been there since birth.

2) Behind them is a fire - people are carrying puppets of which the shadows show up on the wall.

3) They are in total darkness, all they can see is the shadows cast by artificial objects, and all they can hear is distorted echoes

4) One day, a prisoner decides to break free from his chains, and leaves the cave, despite his confusion.

5) It is a difficult journey, but he manages to complete it.

6) At first he is blinded by the light, but his vision soon adjusts and he sees what the world is really like.

7) He returns to the cave to tell the others of his discovery.

8) The others reject his knowledge and threaten to kill him if he returns again. They'd rather play games of guessing which shadow will appear next.

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The SIMPLE Story

1) Wall, Chained, Birth

2) Fire, Shadows, Puppets

3) Darkness, Objects, Echoes

4) Breaks, Leaves, Confused

5) Completes difficult journey

6) Blinded, Adjusts, Reality

7) Returns, Cave, Tell

8) Reject, Threaten, Play

From Plato's Book The Republic VII

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Plato (a little detailed)

Plato was a rationalist (believing that knowledge comes only from theory and not experience - a priori). His story of The Cave was written as an allegory (something that represents real events and world views). Before writing 'The Cave', Socrates (who was Plato's teacher and idol) had been executed for his unconventional beliefs and methods of spreading knowledge. Plato wished for people to open their minds and see beyond the world around them; the escapee is often considered to represent Socrates and indeed how he was viewed by society.

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Plato (simple!)

Rationalist (not empericist)

Socrates executed

Allow to see world around them

Escapee considered Socrates


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Elements of The Cave

The Cave - The world in which we live. We consider it the real world as we don't know any differently.

The Prisoners - Normal people; we see around us and take what we know for granted (empirical knowledge)

The Chains - Human thoughts and desires. Constrain us and keep us from our true philosophical potential

The Fire - Minimal goodness; the good we see in our world

The Escapee - The Philosopher. His desire to learn makes him leave the cave, and his will to spead knowledge sends him back

The Difficult Ascent - Our difficult journey on the path to true knowledge

The Sun - True goodness; the ultimate good

Shileded Eyes - At first, the escapee finds the truth hard to accept

The Guessing Games - Lower state of mind based on artificial understanding: the other prisoners had no philosophical insight

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Easy Cave Elements

The Cave - What we physically see

The Prisoners - Normal people

The Chains - Human thoughts

The Shadows - Objects of our world

The Fire - Goodness we see

The Escapee - The philosopher

The Difficult Ascent - Seeking true knowledge

The Sun - True goodness

Shielded eyes - Truth is difficult

The Guessing Games - low understanding/philosophical potential

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