McBride's Western Civilization Blog

A place for students to share ideas that are discussed in 11th grade Western Civilization.

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Location: Centennial, Colorado, United States

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Plato's Allegory of The Cave Part Two

Same as the first, just so we have more then one posting to comment on.... Feel free to switch back and forth between part one and two.

Plato's The Allegory of the Cave" has been used as metaphor throughout time. As you blog in class think about some of the following questions and major ideas listed below. This is a scored blog; however, you will not just be scored on how many times you comment, but the uniqueness, originality, and creativity that you will bring to the discussion. Do not just comment without referencing the text or your peers. Read other comments and make connections to what your other classmates are saying. IT IS OKAY TO DISAGREE just support why. Do not repeat the same ideas that are presented by your peers. Use direct quotes from the reading, make connections and think outside the box. Most importantly have fun, and hope that our first experiment with the laptops goes well.

Concepts/ideas to think about
  • What is truth according to Plato?
  • What do the prisoners inside the cave represent?
  • What is outside the cave?
  • What happens to someone that leaves the cave?
  • What determines truth?
  • What happens when one's truth is proven wrong?
  • What is reality?
  • Role of our senses
  • How does this tie into society today? What are our caves?
  • Why did Plato write this?
  • Is it better to stay in the cave then leave the cave?
  • What is perceived of those who leave the cave?
  • What does the cave look like?
  • Can we connect this piece of work to Athenian government? Afterall, this was a chapter in Plato's Republic.

51 Comments:

Blogger Alex S said...

I think that outside of the cave people find the sunlight to be too much. They've becomed to accustomed to the darkness and the light shocks them nulling their senses.

7:41 AM  
Blogger jessie-w said...

I think Plato made wrote this to describe society. The cave can be everyday life and the prisoners can be the citizens. Life is controlled in the cave and the prisoners are always being watched. This is how the government operates. If someone leaves the cave they could become an outsider, one who does not belong and is publicly shunned. I think Plato wants people to step outside of the cave. He builds up to how the prisoners just take on everything and except it. This is a strong way of presenting an argument.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

I believe that in today's society, our caves our represented by our early childhood. When the prisoners are in the cave all they have is their imagination which they believe is reality. Like in our early childhood, little kids use their imagination because that they are not as educated and are oblivous to reality

7:44 AM  
Blogger dougG said...

One thing I was confuzed about was about the first paragraph at the end of it, when the author was describing the marionette players up against the screen and wall and referring to displaying puppets. my question was: Were they portraying the puppets as humans?

7:44 AM  
Blogger Jackie.d said...

When someone leaves the cave, they can not see anything because of the blinding light. They will see shadows best at first, and reflections in the water before the objects themselves. They will see by night better than by the sunlight of the day.

7:45 AM  
Blogger EmilyT said...

According to Plato, truth is determine by what one has been presented throughout their entire life. For the people in the cave, their truth becomes the shadows that their captors present to them. They have never experienced anything that makes them believe their captors have any reason to lie to them about the realities of their world. It is an issue of control: the captors present to their prisoners shadows therefore controlling how they name, view, and think of certain things. According to Plato, truth is determined by those who are in power because they have more control of the peoples' minds than we realize. When one's truth is proven wrong "he will suffer sharp pains" and "he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows." Plato asks, "Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?" One man's truth is proven wrong, he will deny the falsification. He will hold onto every last fragment of the truth he has known because man likes to trust in what they have always believed. Man does not like change.

7:46 AM  
Blogger jessie-w said...

I agree with Alex. In today's technology world a person can live in their home and never leave. These people live their lives sheltered, viewing the world through a screen. Going out and living the can be intimidating and a scary experience.

7:47 AM  
Blogger JackS said...

In my mind this story was about mans choice to face reality and be uncomfortable in a way, but if you can realize reality you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and be happy in the end, or you can deny reality and stay in the back of the cave and never see the light.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Jeffh said...

I thought that plato's intro to this story was very interesting. The way that he jumped right into a disctiption was much more interesting to read then in most literiture; most articals start off boring and just giving information. The way that plato illistrated "the Cave" as hell and talked about people being chained to the stone walls where there heads can't even move to either side, only being able to face forward.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Alex S said...

For Doug's question I think that he is simply putting a metaphor out there comparing how the cave residents look around their fire to how puppets in a puppet show look.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Alex S said...

I agree with Jessie that it is of Plato's opinion that people should leave the cave. I think he finds the sunlight to be a neccissary thing that the people of the caves just find scary.

7:53 AM  
Blogger SaraK said...

The end of the story was what fascinated me. It explains that we all have the capacity for great knowledge and wisdom but like our eyes cannot adjust to the light after great darkness, we cannot bring out our knowledge suddenly, it takes a long time and sometimes not at all. "So too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being," What do you guys think this means?

7:54 AM  
Blogger Alex S said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:55 AM  
Blogger dougG said...

I believe in our society the cave is sort of represented by children in our society being blinded from the real world because they cannot yet be independent and be self- sufficent on their own. The chains in the cave represent the law that dosent allow us children to be actual citiazens and have rights until we are eighteen. When we are finally let go we are exposed to the light outside and according to plato when we get let go we are disabused of our error and when we first leave we are to suffer sharp pains. I believe that this applys well to todays society.

7:56 AM  
Blogger JackS said...

Can someone explain who Plato was telling this story to, why was he telling this person this philosophical story of the cave?

7:57 AM  
Blogger jessie-w said...

For anyone who is confused on this reading I reconmend googleing it. I googled "Allegory of the cave" and got a great article off of Wikipedia. It explained it clearer to me and made me realise just how dark this writing is. It reminds me of a dictatorship. Here is a clipping of what I read. Plot
Imagine prisoners who have been chained since childhood deep inside a cave. Not only are their limbs immobilized by the chains; their heads are chained as well so that their eyes are fixed on a wall.

Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which shapes of various animals, plants, and other things are carried. The shapes cast shadows on the wall, which occupy the prisoners' attention. When one of the shape-carriers speaks, an echo against the wall causes the prisoners to believe that the words come from the shadows.

The prisoners engage in what appears to us to be a game - naming the shapes as they come by. This, however, is the only reality that they know, even though they are seeing merely shadows of images.

Suppose a prisoner is released and compelled to stand up and turn around.

His eyes will be blinded by the firelight, and the shapes passing will appear less real than their shadows.

Similarly, if he is dragged up out of the cave into the sunlight, his eyes will be so blinded that he will not be able to see anything.

At first, he will be able to see darker shapes such as shadows and, only later, brighter and brighter objects.

The last object he would be able to see is the sun, which, in time, he would learn to see as that object which provides the seasons and the courses of the year, presides over all things in the visible region, and is in some way the cause of all these things that he has seen.

(This part of the allegory, incidentally, closely matches Plato's metaphor of the sun which occurs near the end of The Republic, Book VI.)

Once enlightened, so to speak, the freed prisoner would no doubt want to return to the cave to free "his fellow bondsmen". The problem, however, lies in the other prisoners' not wanting to be freed: descending back into the cave would require that the freed prisoner's eyes adjust again, and for a time, he would be one of the identifying shapes on the wall. This would make his fellow prisoners murderous toward anyone who attempted to free them.

(The Republic bk. VII, 516b-c; trans. Paul Shorey).

7:58 AM  
Blogger Jackie.d said...

I agree with Jessie's comment. Except in a different view, more that the prisoners are prisoners of the conformity of society. Everyone's the same in the cave. As soon as the people in the cave step out of the conformity cave, if you will, the sunlight is too bright for them, because they've been blinded by the shadows. The shadows have blinded them because the people of the cave, or society, don't know how to be an individual. They only know the shadows in front of them.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Alex S said...

I think that story is a fictional one and Plato is actually just writing it all. However discussions like this would have been common occurence in the forumns and public meeting places of Greece. So I think that the person he is talking to is actually just how he views a typical greek citizen would respond.

8:00 AM  
Blogger bryand said...

Referring to Doug's question about the puppets, Plato is saying that there are puppeteers behind the prisoners holding up puppets. The puppets are casting shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners cannot see the puppets, but they are able to see the shadows cast by the puppets.

8:00 AM  
Blogger dougG said...

Well Jack,
I believe that plato is talking to one of the leaders of the cave. I believe that he is the man overseeing the prisoners. Throughout the story plato proves to the man what is truth and reality to the prisoners and what he is doing to the prisoners minds.

8:04 AM  
Blogger EmilyT said...

In response to Sara's question, I think Plato is saying that discovering the truth, and becoming aware of true reality can not be a half-hearted effort. In order to find it, one must go in with full intentions, with now just their mind but their entire soul. They have to want to not only see reality but the live reality as well. Plato also says "the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all thigs beautiful and right...this is the power upon which...he must have his eye fixed." Plato is saying that getting to the truth may be a difficult journey, but good and happiness cannot be achieved until truth is found. Good is thing one will discover, but it can be attained if only it is desired.

8:05 AM  
Blogger SaraK said...

Thanks Jessie. That did help. It's hard to know if it is real or not, it is such an elaborate story, it could be true??

8:05 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

The representation of caves in society masks our fear and inobitions. Once we release those fears and inobitoins to become individuals. We are able to exit the cave and we find our true self in the light when we could not see in the dark.

8:07 AM  
Blogger JackS said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:08 AM  
Blogger jessie-w said...

I find it interesting that people relate this to childhood. I agree with what they have said in relating to today's society. Back when Plato wrote this however I think he wrote more about society as a whole rather than focusing on children.

8:09 AM  
Blogger Kirsten C said...

along with what alex said, i dont know if this is just a story that Plato was writing, but i think that he is trying to make sence of the things that are happening arond him. The cave may be a metaphor for something else, and the prisoners may not be prisoners in the way we would view them.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Lisa M said...

the reality is what we see and thinnk we see. also what we think we here and what we think is speaking. its like rumors make our reality. and how someone dresses makes us deside what we think of them.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Jeffh said...

I also found the last paragraph to be very interesting. I found that Plato had a very fascinating idea about the world, and the capacity of human knowledge. My opinion of what plato said is that everyone is born with an amount of knowledge and that most people just don't reach the max capacity that they can. What are your guy’s thoughts about what plato thought about the capacity of knowledge.

8:11 AM  
Blogger brandonC said...

In the article Plato says " the prison house is the world of sight". Is he reffering to an actual prison in this? I think that he says this because in prison people have alot of time to think about what they will do. They can think about what they want to do, so its a world of sight.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Janessa S. said...

I think that in a way, our caves are our sterotypes. I think that because of the way our society is set up we have it drilled into our heads about how we should act, what we believe, and what we think is right or wrong. We are tought when we're little about these things and if these lessons are drilled into us, how do we really know what is right from wrong? I mean it's almost like other peoples views are passed on to us and we consider them our own. But are the really our views? Whose to say that they are or aren't?

8:12 AM  
Blogger bryand said...

I think the cave looks like: there is a group of prisoners tied up, sitting looking at a wall of the cave, then behind the prisoners are puppeteers holding up puppets, which are casting shadows on the wall of the cave for the prisoners to see, then behind the puppeteers there is a fire.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Jackie.d said...

Now that I read that article that Jessie posted, it's helped me to understand the reading much more. It sounds like a torture cave to me. The people walking behing with the animal shapes to make the "talking" shadows are driving these prisoners insane. They think that these animal shadows are real, and that they're talking to them. It's been the only thing the prisoners have ever known, it's they're reality. When they're taken up to the sunlight, the prisoners probably think that the blinding light is their torture, but in reality they're torture is being raised not knowing that they're being tortured. If that makes any sense. They don't know that they're is a world outside the cave, or that the animals that are "talking" to them really are just the government or authority laughing at them. It's such a hard concept to grasp, but these people don't know anything but the wall in front of them and their shadow animal story that this figure of authority, whoever it is, is watching them and laughing at them.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Alex S said...

I don't think that there are puppets at all in the cave, I think the citizens of the cave are compared to puppets, but there are none in fact in the cave. Just my opinion.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Kirsten C said...

I agree with janessa. People are constaintly conforming to what society around them is doing. Maybe Plato is discribing being a prisoner to society...?

8:18 AM  
Blogger Janessa S. said...

I agree with Lisa M. Just because someone dresses a certain way or hangs out with a cretain click it automatically determins how the person is. Like what the person is like as well as their veiws on everything. It's not right that we all judge people by these things. I honestly think that no one should judge anyone until they've gotten to know the person. You can't just infer that a person is bad or good depending on the friends, family, clothes, or click the belong to. It's not right, yet we all do it.

8:18 AM  
Blogger JackS said...

In response to Jeff's comment, I think that nobody really reaches there max potential in life mentally. If we only use 10% of our brains then really we can only reach 10% of our potential max. Nobody uses all 10% as it is.

8:18 AM  
Blogger dougG said...

I do somewhat agree with Alex because if what he is saying with the puppets is true, it does make sense.

8:19 AM  
Blogger adison r said...

i agree with one of dougs first comment. how the story acts upon todays society. it made me see the story from a whole different viewpoint as well as helping me understand it better... however; i dont know if i agree with the part about how people first leave... "when we first leave we are to suffer sharp pains" what does it mean by "sharp pains"?

8:19 AM  
Blogger bryand said...

I believe the role of the senses in this writing is very important. Plato explains that the prisoners must use their eyes and ears to percieve what is behind them in the cave. All the prisoners can see is the shadows cast by the puppets on the wall and hear the sounds being made behind them. So, the prisoners must use their sense to be able to have an idea in their mind of what it looks like behind them in the cave.

8:21 AM  
Blogger AmandaB said...

i agree with alex but i also think that there are people in the cave but they aren't puppets but they are (in my opinion) people or workers who are carrying things and the fire is behing=d them so it casts shadows on the walls that the prisoners see. also they are people who have seen the light or been outside of the cave and the prisoners just see them as shadows.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Janessa S. said...

I agree with Patrick, once we are able to escape from this "cave" we are able to become our one true self.

8:23 AM  
Blogger dougG said...

Well Adison,
I meant to refer to the sharp pains as the reality of life when we are first exposed to it without any backup.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Alex S said...

I guess I have to agree with Amanda, i don't think that the people in the cave are prisoners at all, merely people living their life in the darkness of a cave.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Janessa S. said...

I think that in the cave is almost like being blinded by everything around them. They can't seem to see anything but darkness.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Jackie.d said...

In society, some of our caves could be the government, conformity, or maybe a "clique" at school or work. We follow blindly when the head of the group or leader makes the shadows and the voices.

8:26 AM  
Blogger Kirsten C said...

Just something to think about....has anyone thought that maybe the cave is in realtion to our world the and the fire behind the prisoners is the sun?

8:26 AM  
Blogger c anderssen said...

Jessie your a genious, i cant believe you went online and wrote down the internets view of the story. That just makes you look so smart because now your words are from the internet great job! I think this poem is metahporical to some people in the real world. Where they are in their own little "cave" and this represents them being in their own world and having their own views. For example they see shadows and not people talking thus creating a different picture of what is the real intelligent species i guess you could say. Because they havent seen another human they also probably think their a shadow. So you can say when they walk out of the cave it's almost like an alien world to them. Seeing the flesh, and sunlight, and water, makes them all unsecure and scared and them go back to their world.I dont understand why the other students take this story so denotative. For example, Alex S, said that when they go outside that it is just to bright going from the fire lit cavern to outside. This is partially true but its the symbolism of the light that makes them go back. They have never been exposed to this strong, everlasting light, that tries to open their eyes to see the actual world. They have been used to their life lie of the world being a darker place and they are even darker with only a dark light to help them see. So being outside is more then blinding to them, it represents a world that has no darkness, and this is what makes them go back to the cave. This can apply to people in reality where they see the darkness of the world and no light but the one that they can make. Which means when they are in their own world and they are exposed to reality, they want to go back to their own world and not face reality. I would write more about the metaphors but im going to just say i agree with you EmilyT, and this was a good discussion.

8:29 AM  
Blogger collinm said...

I think the people need both sides of the cave light and dark. Not one side is the corrects side, the outside is new views or new discoveries different than what was in the cave. once they were exposed these ideas they were blinded by the change in thinking they caused. When they returned back to the cave they discovered it was hard to accept how they once lived. They simply could not ignore the light. Its like being a kid thinkng santa clause is real. there is nothing wrong with this world, and its what kids know and believe is right. But once you learn he doesnt exist, you cant go back to before and believe he still is real.

4:27 PM  
Blogger chelby C. said...

What do you think this means " First he will see the shadows best, next the reflection of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects thenselves : then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled the spangled heaven: and he will see the skyu and the stars by night better than the sun or the lilght of the sun by day" How does this react to you ? I believe this has to do with what you do in life reflects you afterwards . Whats your personal oppion?

1:41 PM  
Blogger chelby C. said...

What do you mean by Both sides of the cave ( Collinm) light and dark

1:44 PM  
Blogger Ed23 said...

What does allegory mean?

10:13 PM  

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