Plato’s allegory

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Plato's Allegory relevance even today and its impact in India.

Text of Plato’s allegory

  • 1. Platos Allegory
    427-347 B.C

2. Plato
Plato was one of the greatest Philosopher who conceptualized democracy and wrote it in his book Republic
The two political Power then wereOligarchies and Democrats.
Even today these two parties are known by different names but they represent the Rich and the well to do peoples party and the Peoples or poor peoples party.
3. Platos Allegory
Platodescribes in his work Republic an allegory which is worth understanding.
Initially it may look funny and irrelevant but the end will be shocking and absolutely true.
Its relevance to Indian political context is also Discussed
4. The Platos Allegory Describes a Cave
People (Troglodytes) are living in underground den
The cave has a mouth opening into light
People are living from childhood in the cave chained and can see only in front of them
Fire is lit behind them
There is a raised wall between them and the fire.
The prisoners cannot see each other nor themselves
All the prisoner can see is the things carried in front of the fire.
5. The Platos Allegory Describes a Cave
In the wall a puppets are moving and its shadow falls on the wall in front of the Prisoners
When puppets talk the prisoners think shadows are real and talking.
The prisoners are caught in the world of illusion.
If prisoner is released and forced to turn his neck, the fire will be a pain in his eyes.
Will he not be in pain to see those things which are casting their shadow.
6. The Platos Allegory Describes a Cave
Will he be able to name those things which he was seeing as a shadow.
Will these things be real to him or make better sense than the shadow which he used to live with.
The prisoners liberation from past is painful
If he is dragged outside the cave and brought into daylight it will be more painful
Slowly he recovers and knows the true state of prisoners. And considers himself fortunate.
7. The Platos Allegory Describes a Cave
But if he returns to prison and explains everything he will just be a laughing stock. He may not be seeing in darkness now and will wobble. They may think the sunlight has ruined his eyes. The prisoners will be scarred of going to sunlight and will kill a person trying to take them out.
8. Meaning of this allegory.
An Ignorant person can only see the shadows without suspecting they are not real things. A fully educated person can see the shadows, the puppets that cast the shadows, the original things after which the puppets are modeled, and the sun that makes the original things visible.
9. Outside The Cave.
The shadow is the Notion of things (Like people living in foreign and their culture). There is no need to check this out in real world. So everybody thinks that notions are real things. When released people can see the puppets and the shadows and understand the difference. When he moves from cave to sunlight then it is dramatic. Then he gets ideas. The world outside the cave is abstract ideas.
The sunlight according to Socrates symbolizes the intrinsic beauty or Quality in all object which is more empirical
10. The allegory written in 400 BCmay not be relevant today you may think. But see what is the actual position
11. 2011It is still the same
The cave and shadow has been replaced with the idiot box (TV)

  • People imagine they are seeing the real things

12. They do not have the time to check out the facts. 13. They are still ill informed, disinterested until catastrophe- natural or War etc. 14. The reduction of potential voters to an apathetic and poorly informed mass of television consumers works too well for the privileged