Allegory of the Cave  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Allegory of the Cave, also commonly known as Myth of the Cave, Metaphor of the Cave, or the Parable of the Cave, is an allegory used by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work The Republic to illustrate "our nature in its education and want of education." (514a) The allegory of the cave is written as a fictional dialog between Plato's teacher Socrates and Plato's brother Glaucon, at the beginning of Book VII (514a–520a).

Plato has Socrates describe a gathering of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to designate names to these shadows. The shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.

The Allegory is related to Plato's Theory of Forms, wherein Plato asserts that "Forms" (or "Ideas"), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. In addition, the allegory of the cave is an attempt to explain the philosopher's place in society.

The Allegory of the Cave is related to Plato's metaphor of the sun (507b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line (509d–513e), which immediately precede it at the end of Book VI. Allegories are summarized in the viewpoint of dialectic at the end of Book VII and VIII (531d-534e).

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Allegory of the Cave" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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