February 9, 2005

Allegory of the Cave by Plato

The Allegory of the Cave is a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon about mankind finding the Truth.

In Plato's dialogue, Socrates paints Glaucon an image of a cave. At the bottom of the cave are people. These people have been chained to the cave floor for their entire lives. There is a fire in the cave, but the people can not see the fire, only its shadows dancing on the walls.

A man gets free at one point and goes to leave the cave. He is blinded by the sunlight. It takes a while for his eyes to adjust to the sunlight. After experiencing this wonderful light, he reenters the cave. The man tries to tell the other people about what is outside the cave. He is driven to do this.

This story is symbolic of Plato's believe that after we are placed into the human body, after we are born, our senses prevent us from seeing the Truth. We have to work very hard at getting past our senses and not allowing them to take over. We have to come to an intellectual understanding of the abstract, of the Truth, of Goodness, and of Beauty. Then, we will be seeing the real world.

If one person has attained this enlightenment, then Plato says he is required to show this way to the rest of society.

In a way, I see this as relating to Buddha. Buddha took his followers and helped them to see how to attain enlightenment, before actually leaving them.

Like other things, we have to dig deep to see what is real and what is important in life.

Posted by MelissaTrecaso at February 9, 2005 10:10 PM