Allegory In Plato's The Republic

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Plato’s The Republic is one of the first books of philosophy. It utilizes the socratic method of discussion and debate to convey ideas relating to justice, politics, and finding the ultimate truth. The text is continually referenced and argued back to in almost all further philosophical conversations. In book seven of The Republic, Plato introduces an allegory which compares the experiences of prisoners in a cave to the levels of knowledge people can obtain. The allegory details a prisoner who knows only the shadows projected onto the wall in front of him to be true, however, the prisoner is eventually set free and led out of the cave. The prisoner is then faced with having to see nothing he once knew was actually true. Truth and finding the …show more content…
These concepts can be applied to political systems. In order to properly rule, a ruler must be able to understand his people, the needs of his people, and the world in which his people reside. A philosopher king, a ruler trained in philosophy, realizes this need. By spending his years learning the ideas of Plato and other philosophers before taking over a position of power, the philosopher king is prepared to base his decisions off of the truth instead of his bias or ignorant opinions. The ruler is given the opportunity to justly govern his people and also to understand what needs to be done to better their world. If one were to rule without this understanding or ability to value the truth, no matter how undesirable that may be, the fate of the ruler and his society would be harmed. It is important that philosopher kings be able to distinguish true from false in order to achieve an ideal society in which no one is taught lies and no one lives in the shadow of falsehoods. Additionally, a philosopher king is in touch with the theory of Forms and thus allows him to have a greater level of knowledge, placing him as more just than others. To further the allegory’s implications, if a ruler were to be inside of the cave and unaware of the intelligible realm, the ruling he would proceed to do and the decisions he would proceed to make would be as useless to fulfilling his …show more content…
The prisoners residing within the cave and placing faith into the shadows suggest a similar mentality to a student in a system which prevents them from understanding the truth. The student cannot be expected to know about anything more than the world they are exposed to as they were never given the opportunity to see anything else, however, they can be removed from this system as the prisoner was removed from the cave. A student witnessing the false claims of their upbringing can be as blinding as the sun after living in the dark solitude of a cave, but nevertheless the potential the student has at gaining knowledge and truth is higher than it has ever been before. This oppressive system of cave-like learning can be seen in many schools which deny their students adequate sexual education. The schools allow their children to believe in the shadows as they are not told the truth of the world outside of the school. In turn, this causes the students to be subject to serious, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy because they believed in the irrelevant subjects of the cave. Much like the need for a philosopher king, students are in need of a philosopher principal which aids them in finding truth and basing their actions on knowledge, not on lies. The “Allegory of the Cave” of Plato’s The Republic serves to show the importance of leaving the cage which inhibits one’s potential in obtaining

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