. of the senses. His intellectual journey represents

. The prisoners watch
the stories that these shadows play out, and because these shadows are all they
ever get to see, they believe them to be the most real things in the world. So,
these prisoners represent lowest stage on the line- imagination. A prisoner is
somehow freed from his bonds, and look at the fire and the statues themselves.
Then, he realizes that what he sees now are more real than shadows and accepts
the statues and fire as the most real things in the world. This stage in the
cave represents belief. He has made contact with real things, the statues, but
he is not aware that there is a greater reality, which is outside the cave. Next,
the prisoner goes out of the cave and finally sees the real objects. He sees
that these objects are even more real than the statues and those were only the
copies of them. Now, he has reached the stage of thought. When his eyes are
fully adjusted to the brightness of the outside world, he lifts his sight and
look at the sun. He understands that the sun is the cause of everything he sees
around him. The sun represents the Form of the Good and the prisoner has
reached the highest state of knowledge. Socrates explains how the philosopher
is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave. He seeks knowledge outside the
cave and outside of the senses. His intellectual journey represents the
philosopher’s journey as a way of reaching the truth and wisdom. Socrates says that
the free prisoner would think that the world outside the cave was superior to
the world he experienced in the cave; he would bless himself for the change,
and pity the other prisoners and would want to bring others out of the cave and
into the sunlight. The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become accustomed to
the sunlight, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he
was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners, according to Plato, would infer
from the returning man’s blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed
him and that they should not have a similar journey. Socrates concludes that
the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who
attempted to drag them out of the cave. I think that this part shows that the
prisoners are happy in their ignorance and they are not even aware of their
ignorance. And they have prejudices, which they don’t know to be prejudices. And
the return of the illuminated prisoner represents philosopher’s role in Plato’s
philosophy. He returns even though he knows that they will hate him and even
kill him, as the Athenian Court killed Socrates. He goes back because some of
the prisoners may listen, look and may be enabled to rise that happier and
sunlit life outside the cave. If we identify the illuminated prisoner with
Socrates, we can say that maybe there can be some Plato(s) thanks to his return
to the cave. So, philosophers owe this form of gratitude and service to the
community. Also, this metaphor shows why philosopher should be the ruler. He is
not ignorant like the prisoners in the cave, he has true knowledge and direct
access to the reality, even though the ordinary people don’t understand him.
Plato thinks that they don’t understand and in order to understand, we must all
proceed through the lower stages in order to higher stages. We each begin our
lives within the cave, with our heads and legs bound. Education is a struggle
to move as far out of the cave as possible. Not everyone can make it all the
way out, which is why some people are producers, some warriors and some
philosopher-kings. And, philosophers are not only the rulers but also they are
the best teachers, who should go to the dark and ignorant world to enlighten the
ignorant people.


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