cave allegory - Analogy of the Cave,a situation which you...

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Analogy of the Cave : ‘a situation which you can use as an analogy for the human condition.’ (514a) Plato asks us to imagine a situation in which people are bound in a dark cave, facing the back wall. Behind them is a fire, and between them and the fire are objects which cast shadows on the wall in front of them, along with their own shadows. When these people talk to each other, their language refers to the shadows as real things, since “the shadows of artefacts would constitute the only reality people in this situation would recognize.” (515c) This is his assessment of the general human condition. Basically, Plato realizes that the general run of humankind can think, and speak, etc., without (so far as they acknowledge) any awareness of his realm of Forms, no knowledge at all of the real causes of the shadows in the cave, and his cave analogy is an illustration for explaining what these poor deceived people engage in on a daily basis. So when the prisoners talk, what are they talking about? If something, such as a spherical object (say, a ball), is carried past behind them, and it casts a shadow on the wall, and a prisoner says "I see a ball," he thinks he is talking about a ball, but he is really talking about a shadow. "And if they could talk to one another, don't you think they'd suppose that the names they used applied to the things they see passing before them?" (512b). So, although Protagoras would have claimed that the perception that Thrasymachus had of what justice is in Republic I is true, yet Plato would claim that what Thrasymachus perceived was merely a distorted shadow on the wall. It would not even count as a faithful artistic description of
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course PHILOSOPHY 105 taught by Professor Heter during the Spring '08 term at Saint Louis.

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cave allegory - Analogy of the Cave,a situation which you...

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