Plato’s allegory

Plato’s Allegory 427-347 B.C


Plato's Allegory relevance even today and its impact in India.

Transcript of Plato’s allegory

Page 1: Plato’s allegory

Plato’s Allegory427-347 B.C

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PlatoPlato was one of the greatest Philosopher

who conceptualized democracy and wrote it in his book Republic

The two political Power then were Oligarchies and Democrats.

Even today these two parties are known by different names but they represent the Rich and the well to do peoples party and the People’s or poor people’s party.

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Plato’s Allegory

Plato describes in his work Republic an allegory which is worth understanding.Initially it may look funny and irrelevant but the end will be shocking and absolutely true.Its relevance to Indian political context is also Discussed

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The Plato’s Allegory Describes a CavePeople (Troglodytes) are living in underground denThe cave has a mouth opening into lightPeople are living from childhood in the cave

chained and can see only in front of themFire is lit behind them There is a raised wall between them and the fire.The prisoners cannot see each other nor themselvesAll the prisoner can see is the things carried in

front of the fire.

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In the wall a puppets are moving and its shadow falls on the wall in front of the Prisoners

When puppets talk the prisoners think shadows are real and talking.

The prisoners are caught in the world of illusion.If prisoner is released and forced to turn his neck,

the fire will be a pain in his eyes.Will he not be in pain to see those things which

are casting their shadow.

The Plato’s Allegory Describes a Cave

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Will he be able to name those things which he was seeing as a shadow.

Will these things be real to him or make better sense than the shadow which he used to live with.

The prisoners liberation from past is painfulIf he is dragged outside the cave and brought into

daylight it will be more painfulSlowly he recovers and knows the true state of

prisoners. And considers himself fortunate.

The Plato’s Allegory Describes a Cave

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But if he returns to prison and explains everything he will just be a laughing stock. He may not be seeing in darkness now and will wobble. They may think the sunlight has ruined his eyes. The prisoners will be scarred of going to sunlight and will kill a person trying to take them out.

The Plato’s Allegory Describes a Cave

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Meaning of this allegory.An Ignorant person can only see the shadows without suspecting they are not real things. A fully educated person can see the shadows, the puppets that cast the shadows, the original things after which the puppets are modeled, and the sun that makes the original things visible.

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Outside The Cave.The shadow is the Notion of things (Like people

living in foreign and their culture). There is no need to check this out in real world. So everybody thinks that notions are real things. When released people can see the puppets and the shadows and understand the difference. When he moves from cave to sunlight then it is dramatic. Then he gets ideas. The world outside the cave is abstract ideas.

The sunlight according to Socrates symbolizes the intrinsic beauty or Quality in all object which is more empirical

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The allegory written in 400 BC may not be

relevant today you may think. But see what is the actual


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2011It is still the same

The cave and shadow has been replaced with the idiot box (TV)

People imagine they are seeing the real things 

They do not have the time to check out the facts.

They are still ill informed, disinterested until catastrophe - natural or War etc.

The reduction of potential voters to an apathetic and poorly informed mass of television consumers works too well for the privileged

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Can you believe this written 2500 yrs. Back?

He lives from day to day indulging the appetite of the hour, and sometimes he is lapped in drink and strains of the flute; then he becomes a water-drinker, and tries to get thin; then he takes a turn at gymnastics; sometimes idling and neglecting everything, then once more living the life of a philosopher; often he is busy with politics, and starts to his feet and says and does whatever comes into his head; and, if he is emulous of any one who is a warrior, off he is in that direction, or of men of business, once more in that. His life has neither law nor order; and this distracted existence he terms joy and bliss and freedom; and so he goes on.


Republics view of democratic man

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ModernPolitical thoughts

Left argues that Democracy is being manipulated by the Oligarchy (Ruling Elites)

But wherever the Left came to power instead of handing over the power to people they started manipulating the information to cave people more arrogantly and with more rigorous control over the media. The question whether the demos can and should be relied upon to make the right

decisions in complex and dangerous situations is still an intriguing one.

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Whereas in Europe the People obtained power by Revolution, in

India the poor people attained Universal Franchise without much

effort due to Gandhian type peaceful Fight for Freedom

India is the only country in the world which is moving the Rural poor to

Urban without a bloody revolution.