♠ Plato´s “Republic”: “The Allegory of the Cave and the Analogy of the Divided Line”:
Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is written as a dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon at the beginning of “The Republic” Book VII (514a–520a). This allegory is presented after the analogy of the sun (507b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line (509d–513e).
In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The puppeteers are just people outside the cave walk along this walkway, who presumably carry things on their heads including; animals, plants, wood and stone.
Here is an illustration based on the whole description of the Cave:
►Description: “The Allegory of the Cave”:
►The prisoners, the cave and the shadows:
The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them.
What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see. Here is an illustration of Plato’s Cave.
Such prisoners wou ld mistake appearance for reality. As they had never seen the real objects ever before, they believe that the shadows of objects are real objects.
► The Game:
Plato suggests that the prisoners would begin a ‘game’ of guessing which shadow would appear next. If one of the prisoners were to correctly guess, the others would praise him as the most clever.
One of the prisoners then escapes from their bindings and leaves the cave. He is shocked at the world he notices outside the cave and does not believe it can be real. As he becomes used to his new surroundings, he realizes that his former view of reality was wrong. He begins to understand this world. He is first able to see only shadows of things. Next he can see the reflections of things in water and later is able to see things themselves. He is then able to look at the stars and moon by night and finally he is able to look upon the sun. Finally, he is able to behold the sun, which is the main source of knowledge.
►Return to the Cave:
The prisoner returns to the cave, to inform the other prisoners of his findings. They do not believe him and threaten to kill him if he tries to set them free.
►Video: “The Allegory of the Cave”:
►The Allegory of the Cave: Symbolism and General Meaning:
The escaped prisoner represents the Philosopher, who seeks knowledge outside of the cave and outside of the senses.
The Sun represents philosophical truth and knowledge.
The prisoner´s intellectual journey represents a philosopher´s journey when finding truth and wisdom.
In this sense, the Allegory of the Cave is an attempt to explain the philosopher’s place in society
The other prisoners reaction to the escapee returning represents that people are scared of knowing philosophical truths and do not trust philosophers.
► “The Allegory of the Cave and the Analogy of the divided line”:
A & B: THE PHYSICAL WORLD: “APPEARANCE”
Thus A represents shadows and reflections of physical things, and B the physical things themselves. These correspond to two kinds of knowledge, the illusion (εἰκασία eikasia) of our ordinary, everyday experience, and belief (πίστις pistis) about discrete physical objects which cast their shadows.
→Method to achieve knowledge: In A, the eye makes guesses upon observing likenesses of visible things.
→Method to achieve knowledge: In B, the eye makes probable predictions upon observing visible things
A & B: The Visible World in The Allegory of the Cave
A: BOUND REAR OF CAVE. SHADOWS PROJECTIONS. (SHADOWS, REFLECTIONS, ETC).
B: UNBOUND: FIGURES PROJECTING SHADOWS. (OBJECTS/THINGS).
C & D: THE “INTELLIGIBLE WORLD” (FORMS/IDEAI): “REALITY”
C involves mathematical reasoning (διάνοια dianoia). There abstract mathematical objects such as geometric lines are discussed. Such objects are outside the physical world (and are not to be confused with the drawings of those lines, which fall within the physical world B).
→Method to achieve knowledge: In C, the Psyche assumes hypotheses while making use of likenesses, always moving towards final conclusions.
D includes the subjects of philosophical understanding (νόησις noesis).
→In D, knowledge is achieved by the method of dialectic, “using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only as hypotheses — that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the whole” (511b)
C & D: The Intelligible World in The Allegory of the Cave:
C: OUTSIDE AND DAZZLED BY THE SUNSHINE, THE PRISONER SEES ONLY SHADOWS (LOWER FORMS)
D: ADJUSTED TO BRIGHT SUNLIGHT, THE PRISONER PERCEIVES VISIBLE OBJECTS AND APPREHENDS THE SUN (HIGHER FORMS).
►The Allegory of the Cave, The Analogies of the Divided line and the Sun & the Theory of Forms:
The Allegory of the Cave, The analogy of the divided line and the analogy of the Sun are related to Plato’s Theory of Forms, according to which the “Forms” (or “Ideas“), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.
Only knowledge of the Forms constitutes real knowledge.
For Plato’s Forms are not mental entities, nor even mind-dependent. They are independently existing entities whose existence and nature are graspable only by the mind, even though they do not depend on being so grasped in order to exist.
The dialogue “Phaedo” contains an extended description of the characteristics and functions of the forms:
•Intelligible, not perceptible (79a1-5)
•Divine (80a3, b1)
•Causes of being (“The one over the many”) (100c)
Are unqualifiedly what their instances are only with qualification (75b)