Rationalism: Plato

  • Created by: A. Person
  • Created on: 02-01-14 22:08

The Cave

People are tied up in a cave. They can’t look behind themselves; all they can see are shadows cast on the cave wall. These shadows are all they have ever seen.

Behind them, people are carrying artefacts – and these artefacts are casting the shadows on the cave wall.

The prisoners believe that the shadows are real – they have no idea that they are only shadows.

Plato claims that we are like the prisoners in the cave: we rely on sense experience and what we are told without question.

For Plato, sense experience taints our knowledge, moving us further from the truth.

Experience delivers beliefs, but not knowledge.

Theory of Forms

The analogy of the cave can be used to illustrate Plato’s theory of forms: in life, just as in the allegory of the cave, there are real ‘artefacts’ casting shadows – and these artefacts are called


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