Plato AllegoryOfTheCave

Plato AllegoryOfTheCave - PLATO - THE ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE...

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P LATO - T HE A LLEGORY OF THE C AVE The following is a based on the Benjamin Jowett translation of Book VII of The Republic, but I have modified it for the sake of simplicity and clarity - Jowett's version is accurate and scholarly, but it is not ideally adapted for use in an excerpt for beginners. If you are interested in reading the original translation, or if you are interested in reading more of The Republic , you can find it in the Internet Classics Archive website, maintained by MIT at: <> In the following passage, Socrates the narrator, giving an account of a conversation that he had with Glaucon (Socrates is the "I" and Glaucon is the "he" in this passage). The conversation proceeds with Socrates speaking first, introducing and developing the allegory, and then with Glaucon responding to indicate his understanding of and agreement with what Socrates' offers. In developing the allegory, Socrates first tries to illustrate the difference between opinion and true knowledge; second, he tries to show what the immediate consequences of gaining such true knowledge are; and then finally (in keeping with the political theme of The Republic as a whole) he uses the allegory as a way to explain his idea of the ideal state, ruled by those who have been carefully educated to be virtuous and knowledgeable, instead of those who are merely self-serving and opinionated. . . . [Socrates:] And now, I said, let me show in an image how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: Imagine human beings living in a underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised walkway; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the walkway, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets. [Glaucon:] I see. And do you see, I said, men passing behind the wall carrying all sorts of vessels and
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statues and figures of animals, made of wood and stone and various materials, and that appear over the low wall? Some of these men are talking, others silent. You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners. Like ourselves, I replied; and the prisoners see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave? True, he said. How could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads? And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the
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This note was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course PHI 1000C taught by Professor Auerbach during the Spring '07 term at St. Johns Duplicate.

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Plato AllegoryOfTheCave - PLATO - THE ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE...

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