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Allegory of the Cave: Socrates

Updated on May 26, 2016
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Patrick Patrick just recently started posting articles on Hubpages. He is a graduate with a degree in Bio-medical Sciences.

Prisoners in the cave
Prisoners in the cave | Source

Allegory of the Cave

According to Socrates, relying on the physical senses alone, and thus trusting on only what one sees, hears, tastes etc is basically making oneself effectively blind. This according to Socrates is living like the prisoners in the cave, whose only reality is the shadows on the wall. Socrates believed that the world is made up of reflections of the more perfect and ideal forms (real world objects and forms). In this case therefore, the material world, which we can only see, feel, touch and smell represents only the half- seen images of the reality of forms.

In the parable, according to Socrates, the prisoner who goes out of the cave and discovered the reality would eventually come to a realization that what he believed to be true in the cave is actually not the reality. He would be inclined to return to the cave and explain to the other prisoners that the reality of what they are seeing is outside the cave, and what they see are only shadows of the true forms. However, having never left the cave, they would perceive the other prisoner as having gone mad, and they would not understand him and his new findings.

With this parable, Socrates explains that the prison is similar to the prison of the soul (probably heavy reliance on the senses, and thus the body). By trying to free the soul from the prison, the soul would become enlightened, and learn the truth. However, Socrates also believes that it may not be easy to teach others about reality since they have been used to relying on their senses to explain what they perceive. For this reason, understanding the truth can only be achieved by an individual going out to learn and see for himself.

This therefore makes reasoning very important..Agree?

This means that one would have to stop relying on what he/she only perceives with the senses in order to see and understand what is real. It is for this reason that Socrates emphasized that the body and its senses limit understanding of what is true, and in order to really gain knowledge of the truth, the soul has to separate itself from the body as much as possible.

This makes you have an idea of why some find meditation to be of significant importance huh? Monks n such

There are always arguments on whether Socrates was real, or simply a persona created by Plato, but what does it really matter?

The philosophy is what we are really after, yes?

What Does This mean?

I agree with Socrates/Plato that relying on the senses is blinding. This is because of the fact that it simply involves believing in what is presented (what I hear, see etc). It is important to go beyond the superficial and look deeper if true knowledge is to be achieved.

Don't just follow blindly. Start following others and believing in whatever they say, and you will always be the one following. On the other hand, start thinking, reason things out, and you will the one leading- not following,

In every other society, we have those who simply follow: You have them in schools (those who are always following and doing whatever the popular kid wants) in politics (idiots who can never point out the wrongs of their leaders) in religion (those who follow blindly- remember that Jim Jones religious leader?)

Socrates is entirely right, true knowledge can only be achieved by reasoning -

So did we learn? You be the judge :)

What do you think?

Weigh in your thoughts; But first, do you think Socrates was a real person? some think not. Anyways, let me know your thoughts on the Allegory of the cave, I would love to hear more on this topic,


Allegory of the Cave

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