Sociological Meaning of Plato’s Cave


SociologicalMeaning of Plato’s Cave

Plato’scave, or the allegory of the cave, was incorporated in his literarywork titled “The Republic”, which was aimed at illustrating humanbeing’s nature in its education and want of education. In thisallegory, Plato draws similarities between individuals who are nottaught in the Theory of Forms and prisoners who are chained in cavesand are incapable of turning their heads. These people can only seethe walls of the cave, upon which are shadows of puppets held bypuppeteers against a fire. The prisoners are between a wall and thefire, with a path that the puppeteers use is located between theprisoners and the fire. Of particular note is the fact that theprisoners are incapable of seeing the puppets or rather the realobjects that are held or passing behind them. Instead, they can onlyhear and see the echoes and shadows that are cast by the objects thatthey are incapable of seeing.

Thisallegory has varied sociological implications. The cave is arepresentation of individuals who hold the belief that knowledgeemanates from the world that the can see and hear. In essence, suchindividuals are trapped in a prison or cave of misunderstanding. Onthe same note, individuals who believe that what they see is thetruth are simply seeing shadows of reality. In the allegory, theprisoners often played a game where they would guess what image wouldcome up next. Individuals who made the correct guess would bechristened as extremely clever. However, since all are prisoners andthe images they are interpreting are merely shadows of the realobjects, it goes without saying that even the clever ones do not haveany knowledge regarding the truth, in which case it would beextremely ridiculous for anyone to admire such individuals.