The “Allegory of the Cave” is Plato’s theory that revolves around human perception. Plato visualizes people as prisoners chained, looking at the shadows of things on the cave’s wall in front of them. The prisoners know nothing more than the shadows reflected on the cave’s walls, which becomes their “reality.” Plato argues that the gloomy and dark situation in the cave reflects the real state of some people in real life. Therefore, the allegory explores flaws that affect human spirituality, education, and politics.
The cave where the prisoners are is like a two-dimensional world; all they know or have ever seen are the shadows in front of them. Plato argues that in reality, many people are like the prisoners – they only know what is in from of them. According to Plato, if people are only limited to what is in their front, they are equally living in a two-dimensional world (Baranov 184). In the case of the prisoners, they are unaware that what they are seeing is a reflection of real things though they might be distorted. The state of the cave and the prisoners in today’s real-life situation is like a movie theater. The projector would represent fire, the movie represents the shadows the prisoners see on the wall, and the viewers to represent the prisoners. In most cases, movies are not real but a warped representation of the real situation. Therefore, for the people and the prisoners to change the situation and advance to a three-dimensional world, they have to look beyond what is in front of them.
A three-dimensional world is very different from a two-dimensional world as people can use their senses and interact. For example, if the prisoners in the cave were given freedom, they would at least look behind to see the real images in the shadow or walk towards the light (Baranov 185). However, the chances are that it will not be easy on their side since their eyes might be affected by the light, and it could also be hard to fit in the new world. However, they will have to move out of the cave to see real images and not the reflections (Baranov 192). Moving out of the caves for prisoners is similar to a person, in reality, seeking knowledge, as well as good, should act and not consider what they see in front of them as reality.
A three-dimensional world seems to be the best place to be; however, there is a possibility of a four-dimensional world, which is much better than the previous ones. However, after realizing the reality in the three-dimensional world, prisoners would be motivated to move on and get to another level though they might not be sure if the next level exists (Baranov 187). In reality, people may think the world in real when it is not real. According to Baranov, people should not be limited to the three-dimensional world; they should look beyond what in front of them, for there might be a four-dimensional world (185). Therefore, according to Plato, there might be invisible truth hidden in the normalcy that their discovery requires more effort.
From the above discussion, Plato tries to show the importance of finding the truth though in a paradoxical way. Plato uses the situation of the cave and the prisoners to guide people towards the realization of personal knowledge and philosophy as they are vital to freedom and enlightenment. Generally, Plato urges people always to seek and discover a higher realm and not to be limited to their current states.
Baranov, Vladimir. “Escaping Plato’s Cave: Some Platonic Metaphors in Symeon the New Theologian.” Scrinium. 11.1 (2015): 181-196. Print.