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OfflineGomp
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Plato's allegory of the cave
    #4265449 - 06/06/05 10:26 PM (11 years, 9 months ago)

Just heard of this, I find it amazing..
really pins it down..

Now, to the question, or rather request...

could anyone retell the allegory, using own words? not using a source?
(reason I'm asking, is the amazing quantities of different versions, out there.)


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Offlinedr0mni
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: Gomp]
    #4266355 - 06/07/05 02:28 AM (11 years, 9 months ago)

sure! I have been thinking about posting about this allegory for a while!

Okay, here it goes:

All of mankind is like people living in a cave. They are chained and fettered to the ground so much that they can not even move their heads from side to side. All they can do is look foward at the cave wall in front of them.

Behind this row of people who are facing the side of the cave is a constructed wall, behind which there is a path, behind which is a humungous fire. There are people who walk down the path carrying object on their heads. Vases, tvs, chairs, etc. As they walk past the wall the fire casts shadows of the objects which are carried at a height above the wall, projecting them onto the side of the cave.

The poor folks that are chained down can only see the shadows, silhouettes. They come up with names, words, and symbols for each moving shadow, and this becomes all they know. They hear the voices of people behind them and mistake the voices as coming from the shadows. This is truth to them, and this is all they have every experianced.

Well what if one of these people were let loose from their bonds? First they would turn their head from side to side and witness their peers in bondage. "I used to be like that" they would think.

Then they would turn around and see the bright flaming light. The intensity of this light is like nothing they have seen before and at first they are blind! They turn their head and continue to look at the wall in order to easy the pain of the blinding light.

But if they keep looking back, their eyes will eventually adjust to the light and they will see the objects being carried behind the wall. At first they will not recognize the objects. They are three dimensional, colored, dynamic. Not at all like the silhouettes with which they were once familiar. They then look over the wall and see people talking and making voices, not the objects!

This intense change in perception would be quite shocking! And if the person ever tried to tell their peers in bondage what was truely happening, they would be scoffed at. "you're crazy! We all know what is real, we've been experiancing reality since our birth, we all can agree on what is real because we all see the same thing, and now you, ALONE are telling us different? Why should we believe you?" they would say.

Needless to say, no one who was still in bondage could ever grasp the whole truth of what was happening.

But what about after this person adjusts to the truth of the cave, and ventures to step outside? The sun would burn their corneas and sear their pale flesh! Even if their eyes ever adjusted to the emense, powerful light of the sun, what would they see? Trees, grass, rivers, rain! How could they wrap their minds around such things when all they've known was the cave? And what if they tried to explain the outside world to their peers still chained up, naming shadows?

At first, we are blinded from the truth by our ignorance, and once we see it, no one will ever believe because they too our blind. And once we've seen the truth, little do we know how much more is waiting for us outside...

So did I do good at explaining it?


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InvisibleDiploidM
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: dr0mni]
    #4266510 - 06/07/05 03:11 AM (11 years, 9 months ago)

Great job paraphrasing Plato.

An observation and critique (of Plato, not the paraphrase):

This is an interesting allegory and it's often used to point out how some people (usually mystics) see beyond what is evident while the rest of us languish in ignorance in the same way the freed cave dweller sees truth while his compatriots see only half-truths and remain ignorant.

What's often overlooked is that rather than calling the freed cave dweller 'crazy', his compatriots might instead ask for evidence of his claims, at which request the freed cave dweller could have produced a vase, or a TV, or a chair to show the updated truth to his friends. Later a mirror to show them still more updated truths.

Were he to refuse to provide this evidence, as all mystics do, then his chained compatriots are better called victims of his negligence rather than ignorant.


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4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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Offlinecrunchytoast
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: Diploid]
    #4266534 - 06/07/05 03:23 AM (11 years, 9 months ago)

anyone else interested in nominalism? the way i understand it is:
language derives its reality from objects
whereas (platonism/) idealism states that objects derive their reality from ideas


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OfflineHarryFlashmanVC
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: Diploid]
    #4266966 - 06/07/05 09:35 AM (11 years, 9 months ago)

He wouldn't need to show objects, he would be walking in front of them....  A free three dimensional person instead of a shadow.  That would screw with their cave dwelling heads no doubt.

It would probably be more fun to just dance in the shadows behind them though :wink:


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OfflineHarryFlashmanVC
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: crunchytoast]
    #4266971 - 06/07/05 09:38 AM (11 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

whereas (platonism/) idealism states that objects derive their reality from ideas




I always thought that Platonic reality was derived from ideas that originate fro "true forms". That for every chair we see we are actually filling in the gaps from an original template.... the total chair. But its been a while since I read any Plato.


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OfflineMighty Bop
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: HarryFlashmanVC]
    #4267025 - 06/07/05 10:14 AM (11 years, 9 months ago)

Good stuff :smile:


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OfflineGomp
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: Mighty Bop]
    #4267059 - 06/07/05 10:32 AM (11 years, 9 months ago)

:grin: :thumbup:

""What's often overlooked is that rather than calling the freed cave dweller 'crazy', his compatriots might instead ask for evidence of his claims, at which request the freed cave dweller could have produced a vase, or a TV, or a chair to show the updated truth to his friends. Later a mirror to show them still more updated truths.""

I tell you, this is true, ... but even if I were to show you something, you would still explain it, using the shadows, and the "echo" as yourself, rather that looking at what is right beneath you nose, (which you BTW wouldn't known existed, so if I were freed of the chain, and punched your nose, you would still come up whit an "shadow echo" explanation of it.. )

this is why I fell in love with this allegory so badly..

No matter what you do, no matter what you proved, if would be reasoned in the old way... this kinda gives a way of thinking, what to do to brake this.. (and may I remind you that I am crazy, thinking I am in a lucid dream right now, I can even move the fingers of the body layd asleep)

"Life, an allegory!"
-Unknown :P


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OfflineMarkostheGnostic
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: HarryFlashmanVC]
    #4267212 - 06/07/05 11:57 AM (11 years, 9 months ago)

Those would be the "archetypes" that Augustine 'borrowed' from Plato, and which Jung 'borrowed' as well.


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OfflineMarkostheGnostic
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: Diploid]
    #4267318 - 06/07/05 12:38 PM (11 years, 9 months ago)

I think that allegories and metaphors only go so far, and then one begins to literalize them, gradually stripping their intended (albeit limited) meaning and rendering them absurd.

Incidentally, not providing "evidence" is not the fault of any of us who are granted mystical experiences. Mystical experiences are the subjective pole of an encounter with Ultimate Reality. If you were able to know a person long before such an encounter, and long after, the "evidence" that you would have would be a notable change in that person. Of course, since religious experience in general only has authority for the experiencer, your study of that person's words and deeds would have to remain a phenomenological study. You could compare their post religious experience with the ones documented throughout history that were deemed genuine, characterized by increased wholeness of personality [holiness], greater compassion, generosity, even increased self-sacrifice of one's time and energy, and acknowledgement of an "Ultimate Concern" to use a philosophical term for GOD.

Such an individual, one may cynically suggest, has been deluded and is going to live his life in a 'fool's paradise.' However, THIS is the ultimate gamble. No other stakes are this high (unless we're talking Russian Roulette, but death is under these stakes as well). One lives one's life 'as if' the mystic experience defines Ultimate Reality, or one lives one's life 'as if' the experience was false, meaningless. I'm opting for the former since no one gets out alive anyway.


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OfflineMAIA
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: Gomp]
    #4267361 - 06/07/05 12:55 PM (11 years, 9 months ago)

The cave is "The Matrix" :wink:

MAIA


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OfflineMAIA
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: MAIA]
    #4267366 - 06/07/05 12:56 PM (11 years, 9 months ago)

Better yet, "The Matrix" is the cave.

MAIA


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Offlinedr0mni
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Re: Plato's allegory of the cave [Re: MAIA]
    #4267794 - 06/07/05 02:56 PM (11 years, 9 months ago)

"What's often overlooked is that rather than calling the freed cave dweller 'crazy', his compatriots might instead ask for evidence of his claims, at which request the freed cave dweller could have produced a vase, or a TV, or a chair to show the updated truth to his friends. Later a mirror to show them still more updated truths.

Were he to refuse to provide this evidence, as all mystics do, then his chained compatriots are better called victims of his negligence rather than ignorant."

Like Markos said, the message is ruined once the allegory is taken literally. How do you show someone your mystical experiance? How do you prove something that only exists inside your head or from your own inner experiances? The only way we can understand the truth is by witnessing it ourselves.


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