Allegory of the Cave

Look again, and see what happens if the prisoners are released from the cave. At first, when any of them is freed and has to stand up, turn his neck around, walk, and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains. The glare will distress him, and he won't be able to see the realities whose shadows he'd seen in the cave. Then someone tells him that what he saw before was an illusion, and that now, when he is closer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision. What will be his reply? Imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and making him name them. Won't he be perplexed? Won't he think that the shadows he used to see are truer than the objects he sees now?

Plato, "Allegory of the Cave," The Republic (c. 375 BC).

Full Text: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1497/1497-h/1497-h.htm#link2H_4_0010



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