Plato and The Allegory of the Cave

The goal of an education is to provide an escape from the destitution of ignorance. The Allegory of the Cave, by Plato, illustrates the shimmering impact education has on the soul: its ability to enlighten the individual in order to promote the common good. Without an education, an individual is limited to the beliefs instilled upon him, and therefore cannot get any farther than they allow him to go.

Socrates describes a desolate scene: a group of people have been cave-bound their entire lives. Their reality consists of shadows of statues whose movements are orchestrated by unidentified people behind a wall. This represents the way every human being begins his life: vulnerable to the will society places upon him.

Every one begins their life void of knowledge, or in an imaginative state. “To them, I said, the truth would be nothing but the shadows of the images” (Socrates, 267). Our truth is limited to what we’ve been exposed to. Education is an apparatus to escape from the limitations we are born with. People latch on to what they know in order to play it safe. They dismiss beliefs which differ from their own because the unknown is threatening. Plato writes: “And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him” (Plato, 267.

) Socrates theorizes that one of the prisoners is released from the shackles, and looks towards the fire. The bright fire would strain his eyes, and he would discover his reality consisted only of the shadows of manipulated statues. He understands the statues were not real, but now accepts the statues and fire as the truth because that is all he knows. This represents belief. Without proper knowledge, an individual latches on to whatever he hears. This leaves him at the disposal of an.

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