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Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" Research Essay:


Objective: Plato's allegory of the cave has influenced countless thinkers over the centuries. It is a timeless allegory that remains a fruitful source of insight into the human condition, education, psychology, human development, relationships, social institutions, and the nature of our world. Due to its timeless influence, we have selected this to be the topic of your first essay. 

For this essay, students will demonstrate their understanding of the allegory by briefly summarizing the allegory, supported with direct quotations from the text. In addition, students will then identify parallels between the allegory of the cave and our modern world. That is, students will explore questions such as, "how are we like the prisoners in the cave? Who could be the prison guards? What could be the puppets on the wall? What would "exiting the cave" look like? How would we treat such people?" (This is not an exhaustive list of questions, but they are important questions students will want to think about.) 

After reading Plato's "allegory of the cave," students will:

A. Demonstrate an understanding of Plato's allegory; as well as

  B. Identify ways in which the allegory of the cave can provide insight and offer meaningful commentary on a personal issue, social issue, social trend or tradition, or a particular institution in our world today. 

For an example of how the allegory of the cave can be used to illuminate a particular issue, consider Peg O'Connor's article that connects the allegory of the cave to addiction and alcoholism:

The content (excluding grammar, citations, etc.) of the paper will be graded according to the following criteria: 

  1. Do you demonstrate a strong understanding of the allegory of the cave, supported with well selected and well integrated quotations? 
  2. Do you draw a meaningful parallel between the allegory of the cave and a particular issue or phenomenon in our world today in a way that illustrates the sustaining value of the allegory of the cave? 

Upon successful completion of this short essay, students will work towards fulfillment of the following objectives:

# Explain the importance and relevance of rationally and constructively questioning basic beliefs and assumptions

# Speak and write clearly about philosophical issues

# Find, evaluate, use, and cite appropriate academic sources

# Utilize technology to research philosophical issues

# Describe ways in which philosophy is a dynamic discipline which is responsive to new discoveries in related fields

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