Feb 14, 2009
Plato, the Allegory of the Cave
Reality is based by perception. Perception is determined by objects that surround us, commodities, objects stripped of meaning. These objects determine our perception; a shallow existence. We are living in the cave and Plato’s shadows are our commodities.
“He says that men, firmly chained in a dark cave, see neither the genuine original light nor actual things, but only the inadequate light of the fire in the cave, and the shadows of actual things passing by the fire behind their backs. Yet they imagine that the shadows are the reality, and that determining the succession of these shadows is true wisdom.” (The World as Will and Representation, Vol. I, Appendix, Schopenhauer)
To see beyond this simulacrum are those who are liberated and compelled towards the light. These free-thinking men are sprouting the seed of the capacity of learning. “At first, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him” (The Allegory of the Cave) symbolizing that he is learning. Later he will begin to see the objects themselves, then himself in his own proper place, contemplating him as he is. He is now educated.
This knowledge must now be shared among the captives of the cave to become ministers of the state. Those reluctant to govern are in the state’s best interest for it will become a reality, not a vague representation; these rulers will lead a well-ordered state. “The only life which looks down upon the life of political ambition is that of true philosophy” (The Allegory of the cave) Those most eager to lead are the worst. He seizes the citizens to be benefactors of the state and one another, not to please themselves, but make the most of the state.
The world is only a representation of objects and how we view these objects to reality. The only way to begin to see the truth is through gaining knowledge.