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The Analogy of the Cave

Plato believed that there were two worlds that we experience; the physical world which is the one we are born into, and the non-physical world which is where we are before we are born, and after we die.

In order to explain this he uses an analogy, the Analogy of the Cave. In this analogy Plato describes a cave in which some prisoners are kept. These prisoners are tied up and forced to watch shadows go by across the wall of the cave which are lit up by a fire. On day one of the prisoners is dragged painfully out of the cave; at first he cannot see as he has spent so long in the cave, but eventually after adjusting he realises that all along he has been seing copies and that the objects in front of him, lit up by the sun, are the real objects. He then returns to cave to tell the others, however they don't believe him and get angry. One even comments he would kill him if he could.

Cave - Non-physical world
Prisoners - Us
Shadows - Copies of everything
Fire - Copy of the form of the good
Dragged out of the cave - Journey to becoming a philosopher
Pain - Hard to change your idea of the truth
Sun - Form of the good
Can't see - Naivety
Return to the cave - Philosophers share their knowledge ('The job of a philosopher to educate others)
Angry prisoners - Us

The Theory of the Forms

Plato believes that there is another world, and one of his arguments is that the way we know what things are is because we've seen them before, for example the concept of goodness. The world we live in is a world of appearances whilst the real world is a world of ideas that he calls…


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