Essay on Plato 's Educational Philosophy Lies His Cave

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At the core of Plato’s educational philosophy lies his cave allegory. The cave allegory is offered by Plato as “an analogy for the human condition — for our education or lack of it” (514a). Plato depicts this analogy as prisoners in a cave, chained and unable to turn their heads, only able to see directly in front of them. What they see are shadows cast by objects behind them which are illuminated by firelight further behind and above them. The objects are carried along and extend above a low wall behind the prisoners. The bearers of the objects are hidden behind the wall and so cast no shadows; but occasionally they speak, and the echoes of these words reach the prisoners and seem to come from the shadows. The prisoners can talk among themselves, and they naturally assume that the names they use apply to what they see and hear — the shadows passing in front of them. Plato offers a grim assessment of their plight, remarking that the “shadows of artifacts constitute the only reality people in this situation would recognize" (515c).
The prisoners see only shadows, and these shadows are cast by artifacts, likenesses of animals and people (514b-515c). So the prisoners are, in Plato 's view, at least two dimensions removed from truth or reality, although they do not realize this and would object if the suggestion were made to them (515c-d). If they were freed and made to turn around towards the firelight, the prisoners would be dazzled and unable to make out the objects that cast…

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