Caves and Screens
“If he was told that what he used to see was so much empty nonsense and that he was now nearer realty and seeing more correctly, because he was turned towards objects that were more real” (Plato and Lee, 2007).
Within Plato’s- The Allegory of the Cave, Plato goes on to picture a scene of an underground chamber, possibly a cave. Within this cave, men are being chained like prisoners to their narrow minded beliefs- ‘the shadows’ – the discontortions of their opinions moulded by appearance, not reality.
The shadows are the puppets of the ‘living’ people above them. The men chained to the walls solely believe these shadows to be real life, and the echoes sounding from the people above are their voices. Platos reality cant be seen as the prisoners are shackled and physically cant turn their heads. Plato alludes to the view that people mistake their sense for truth. The cave is one of misconception.
Plato then goes on to talk about his idea of what if one of these men were released from their bonds and let loose, suddenly compelled to stand, cured of all delusions.
To me Plato’s allegory talks about how we are controlled by forces, those being educators, religion, media or the government. The bonds shackled on us by the hierarchy. Then when released from our chains we can leave this dark and dismal cave onto the trail of something better. An ascension of the soul. This, the path to true enlightenment , the real world where forces can no longer control us. Yet who is the one that freed us from our bonds?
Maybe we never desired to leave the cave after so many years of being in it, it has become the norm and venturing outside would risk the fear of the unknown. Brett Milam talks about how freeing someone of their beliefs and indoctrinations them instead of teaching them, does not cure them of their ignorance. Can we really force people out of their own beliefs? Moreover, if doing so, does that not somewhat invalidate the goodness of the religious factor that Plato is trying to convey?
Socrates adhered to the opinion that the world is composed of reflections, and not true forms. I agree with this but if the people controlling these reflections (media or beliefs) no longer control us then who is the one that is forcibly breaking us of these beliefs and now forcing us to believe in their beliefs
The representation of the English idiom- “ You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make him drink”. You can present someone with an opportunity but you can not force him or her to take advantage of it. This does not create true belief.
In my opinion we have now been forced onto this path of so called ‘enlightenment’, because someone has made this decision for us. As Plato has referred to again and again about the painful process of how we are being forced out of the cave and into the sunlight to seek this higher power. This point of force versus persuasion is why I believe that we are once again being controlled by another form of government or religion forcing their beliefs on us.
Plato and Lee, D. (2007) ‘The Allegory of the Cave’, The Republic pp. 242. 2nd edn. London: Penguin.
Brett (2015) The fatal flaw in Plato’s allegory of the cave. Available at: https://brettmilam.com/2015/11/15/the-fatal-flaw-in-platos-allegory-of-the-cave/ (Accessed: 13 December 2016).
Simon Blackburn on Plato’s cave (no date) Available at: http://traffic.libsyn.com/philosophybites/Blackburn_Plato.mp3 (Accessed: 13 December 2016).