Monday, March 23, 2015

Plato's Allegory of the Cave...Seeking the Light

From TED

I have to say that this is a very interesting short post concerning society, self-delusion and democratic ideals.  Funny how an allegory from thousands of years ago can apply to today. You may not agree with Plato's perspective, or Socrates for that matter, but it does make for some interesting dinner table conversation.

Twenty four hundred years ago, Plato, one of history’s most famous thinkers, said life is like being chained up in a cave forced to watch shadows flitting across a stone wall. Beyond sounding quite morbid, what exactly did he mean? Alex Gendler unravels Plato's Allegory of the Cave, found in Book VII of The Republic.


Want to read the Allegory of the Cave in its complete format? Go to this site and get started. To better understand the allegory’s larger context, try reading the rest of The Republic by Plato and these classic lectures. Then, check out this theological perspective on how Plato’s cave allegory relates to the human condition, or this modern scientific interpretation of what it tells us about human knowledge.

Want to see two different visual representations of this allegory? Watch this version of Plato’s allegory in clay animation or this one narrated by Orson Wells! Each is a bit different, but provide a unique representation of Plato’s allegory. How does the visual representation give you a different perspective from reading the Allegory of the Cave?

You may also want to read a summary of the Theory of Forms and how it relates to language. Even if none of that interests you, chances are you’ve already seen the Allegory of the Cave interpreted as a major blockbuster film.

Interested in comparing Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to a real-life issue such as alcohol and addiction? Visit the New York Times Learning Network Text to Text and follow the lesson. Read through it and compare the two texts presented. What other everyday situations can Plato’s allegory help us understand?

I also found this book, which can continue this discussion:

The Cave and the Light, Plato versus Aristotle and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization, Arthur Herman, 2014, Random House Trade Paperback

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