In the time of the Greek Empire, when they defined themselves as the world power, the creation and development of sciences both physical and social were in a revolution. One notable science that saw strides of development were the sciences of philosophy, a system of logic, debate and desire for wisdom. The most noted and heard of these men was the formidable Aristotle, but the importance here is in a student, Plato. Plato was an idealistic philosopher, who saw beyond physical constraints of life into his higher beliefs of formless ideas being a truth of life and reality. In these he viewed mathematics and the logical concepts behind it, as well as defined forms, pure concepts only somewhat represented in the real world, such as the form of beauty. Additionally, his top tier of reality resided a form of goodness, in which humans desire things that are just and good.
In the allegorical tale of the cave, part of the greater work The Republic, Plato related his ideas through a story; one that was designed to teach and inform and explain. By examining and summation of the cave, the connection between the story and Plato's world view can be established.
The story of the cave portrays a group of people, chained within a somewhat darkened cave all their lives. Enough light exists to show shadows upon a wall in front of them, and in these shadows a myriad of objects and shapes are displayed; objects and shapes that portray all these prisoners have known. This leads into one prisoner being unshackled and forced out, past a fire and people carrying varying objects that create the shadows below. Further he is trailed along a harsh, rocky path into a blinding and painful to see world above. Outside the sheltering confines of the cave, the prisoners learns to adapt and accept the new sights about him. He looks to a pool and sees reflections within the waters, clear and almost tangible. Looking further he sees the items that created the images, and finally looking up he spies the sun, a light source for it all. After reasoning power of the sun, he then feels compelled to share with his fellows these new insights, but, upon return is ridiculed and sneered at, filled with seeming chaotic thoughts, that are different than the cave dwellers. So great this disturbance, in the end he is cast to death for his upsetting of society with higher truths.
Taking Plato's philosophical beliefs, the allegory of the cave can than be dissected to show the concepts behind it is a tool to explain and teach his ideas of life. The cave can be taken as a representation of the physical world, a realm of physical senses and experiences. Further, the people of the cave are the everyday people of life, while the shackling represents their inability to see beyond the physically tangible. As the prisoners watch the shadows, they see these shadows and images, the lowest of all reality to Plato, as the only truth of...