Allegory of the Cave, Plato described symbolically the predicament in which mankind finds itself and proposes a way of salvation. The Allegory presents, in brief form, most of Plato's major philosophical assumptions: his belief that the world revealed by our senses is not the real world but only a poor copy of it, and that the real world can only be apprehended intellectually; his idea that knowledge cannot be transferred from teacher to student, but rather that education consists in directing student's minds toward what is real and important and allowing them to apprehend it for themselves; his faith that the universe ultimately is good; his conviction that enlightened individuals have an obligation to the rest of society, and that a good society must be one in which the truly wise (the Philosopher-King) are the rulers
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 ...view middle of the document...
In other words, what would happen if people actually embraced philosophy and become enlightened by it?
In the beginning of the Allegory of the Cave Plato represents man’s condition as being “chained in a cave,” with only a fire behind him. He perceives the world by watching the shadows on the wall. He sits in darkness with the false light of the fire and does not realize that this existence is wrong or lacking. It merely is his existence — he knows no other nor offers any complaint.
Plato next imagines in the Allegory of the Cave what would occur if the chained man were suddenly released from his bondage and let out into the world. Plato describes how some people would immediately be frightened and want to return to the cave and the familiar dark existence. Others would look at the sun and finally see the world as it truly is.
The Allegory of the Cave also represents an extended metaphor for the state of human existence, and for the transformation that occurs during philosophical enlightenment. When the light of the sun shines on the freed man, this is allegory for enlightenment and perception of the truth. The minor concerns of the world as he has viewed it previously are now seen as falsely held perception and he is eager to share enlightenment with others.
Thematic elements from the Allegory of the Cave continue to influence Western thought. In fact, one can view the first Matrix film as an interpretation of Plato’s work. The reality of the matrix is that it is “a construct” meant to keep people enslaved. When Morpheus asks Neo: “What is real? How do you define real?” He is echoing Platonic thought. Further he tells Neo: “No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” This definitely is in direct relationship to Plato’s views on the inability of language to convey truth or to free people from mental bondage.
Thus it is easy to see that Plato’s rather simple Allegory of the Cave continues to be reinterpreted and relevant to present day. Whether or not a person agrees with Plato’s definition of truth or enlightenment, knowledge of his argument can inform interpretation of art, film, and literature since references to it are still in common and quite popular use.