Plato was one of the most famous philosopher thinkers, his level of thinking and reasoning were well beyond that of his time. He believed that life is like being chained up in a cave and forced to watch shadows along the side of the cave. Plato suggested that this was an ideal society, he examined concepts such as justice, truth,and beauty. In the allegory, a group of prisoners were chained up in a confined space with no way out since childhood.
There only connections were with there shadows and had no idea of the outside world. They could not move and could only see what was in front of them, because the chains will not let them turn their backs. There only interpretations of the world was a source of fire showing shadows of items such as people, and objects of wood, stone and other material.
One day, one of the prisoners were released, and he had his first encountered outside since childhood. As he went outside he was blinded by the sunlight because he was used to being in the cave. As he starts to look at his surroundings he’s dazzled and disoriented. When others told him that the things surrondings him were real, he started to become puzzled. He was used to the shadows being the objects from the cave, so as he took a closer view at everything he only realized that the shadows were only reflections of the real objects.
Over time the man that has been in the cave since childhood becomes adjusted to the shadow, he started to look at objects directly and this understanding became clear to him. He had a better idea that the sun was the main source of everything that had a shadow. It controls everything in the visible world, and moreover is in a way the cause of all that he and his companions in the cave used to see When he returns to the cave, he speaks to the other men of what he has witnessed but has a hard time seeing the shadows on the wall.
When he tries to explain to the others what they have seen they resist and aren’t willing to be freed by him. Plato explains his theory of knowledge through The Allegory of the Cave “The Allegory of the Cave illustrates the road we must take from shadowy images to the true idea (forms) behind all natural phenomena.” Though Plato explains that through their ignorance, they didn’t seem to care of what caused the shadows. Even the “noblest natures” said Plato, don’t always want to look away from their conventional ideas.
Plato said. “The forms are the causes of all your knowledge of all objects. The forms contribute all material objects. Since we can only know something insofar as it has some order or form, the forms are the source of intelligibility of all material objects.” He explains that all true knowledge is recollection. He states that we all have innate knowledge that tells us about the things we experience in our world. The development of ideas is buried deep within in our soul. Moral progress begins with the knowledge we gain as we climb beyond the world of ignorance and toward eternal forms.
When the reason begins to “recollect” these perfect ideas, it experiences and “internal source of awakening,” according to Plato. Plato’s theory of knowledge shows us that the man discovered light from the outdoors demonstrating that our limitations are endless and how knowledge can get us beyond our previous limitations.
- Price, Joan A. Philosophy through the Ages. Wadsworth Pub., 2000.