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Free Example of Plato's Allegory of the Cave Essay

The human being exists in a contradiction between the ideas about the reality, knowledge, and truth. Plato in his work explains what these concepts may be. The allegory of the cave is an imitation of what people believe to be real and what real could appear to be. According to Plato, the human mind might be able to discover the knowledge about the reality, but “only with an effort”.

In the allegory of the cave the author gives his interpretations about the reality. People might be ignorant of the truth, because they depend too much on what they see. The senses of perception (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) are the criteria for making fundamental believes about the world people live in and what they consider to be realities. This is the way people may be deceived by their own minds.

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In the Plato’s work, the mind is compared to a cave, because the cave is an invisible limit for anyone and replaces the whole unknown universe. Images and sounds are just signals, interpreted by the brain. These signals in the cave mislead people from the knowledge. The mind is able to recognize a model of illusion and discover the knowledge, but one must be rational. Plato suggests that intellectuality may help to approach the knowledge, but “he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed” (Republic). This is how a person is able to recognize the false pictures of the reality from the prison-house that “is the world of sight”.

Plato distinguishes the two worlds: the realm of ideas and the physical world. The physical world dictates a person what to think. He, who takes his knowledge from what encircles him, knows nothing but an illusion. A person is not free in his ideas, because the cognition can not be build entirely from the physical world. According to Plato “the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images” (Republic) in this case. The relations between the ideas and physical world lie in understanding that the sphere of ideas creates a way to know the truth through the physical world. To achieve this, one has to keep his mind open.

Those who are rational are aware of the wide world around them. They are regarded as enlightened ones. Pity is what these people might feel towards the other prisoners. They fail in their attempts to enlighten others, because they are perceived as the shadows. Plato says, that those who are not enlightened “have been accustomed to behold” (Republic) the shadows and nothing else.

The discrepancy between the real word and the world of shadows underlines the Plato’s believe that the human mind can acknowledge the truth and also it can be deceived. The physical world reflects the smallest elements of the truth, while the rational mind discovers what is far beyond the human sight. The allegory of the cave shows “in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened”. The Greek philosopher explains that people are able to know the truth about the things they consider to be real, but have a habit to believe in what is an illusion. The perception of the physical world makes people to not go beyond the limits of visible.  It creates a certain manner of the interpretation the reality. The truth is vaguely based on the physical world, because the physical is only a reflection (Plato suggests to call it a shadow on the wall); while the rational mind seeks for the new ideas. The understanding of this encourages people to embrace new knowledge about the reality.

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