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Plato's Allegory Of The Cave Essay

1822 words - 7 pages

In society today most people live by what is call “social norms”, most people follow these norms and some choose not to follow them. Social norms are certain things in life that everyone does to be accepted by their co-workers, family, friends and even strangers. Some may feel that they have to live by these norms to get through life without being rejected and to be known as a “normal” person, hence the word “norm”. If a person were to stray from this path and just do what they felt like doing and do what made them happy as an individual, would they be criticized? In Plato’s Allegory of a Cave he describes an example of people conforming to the norm they were born into and then shows the results of a person emerging from this community into a completely new and different world. People today are trapped into conforming to the American way to avoid being chastised but if we all stand up and make our own decisions based on what we want and our own path, eventually individuality will become the social norm.
In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, the persons in the allegory were born and raised in an underground cave with their feet and necks shackled and chained so that they could not walk around or move their faces; they could only look forward at the cave wall. Behind them was a short wall with a fire at the back of the wall where people walking by or “puppeteers” would place objects upon the wall making shadows for the people chained to see. Their whole lives all they ever saw were shadows of objects, never seeing the true items form. They would make names for these items then hold competitions for who could call out which item was what, if a person called the wrong name then they were laughed at and made fun of. One of the people was freed; the person was able to look around at the fire and the objects placed upon the wall, he could see that it was these objects that made the shadows he saw his whole life. The man ran up the hill towards the light and the end of the cave where he was temporarily blinded because he was used to the darkness inside of the cave. Of course this is all very confusing to him and maybe even angers him because he does not understand what he is seeing. Eventually this man will gain knowledge of the world and everything in it, from the shadows of the objects he saw on the wall of the cave all the way up to how the sun helps the earth. He will see that was he was made to see and understand was not reality but just was he was made to believe. This freed man now pities the other prisoners that are still inside the cave because he realizes how wrong they were about everything they know. Plato describes how if the freed prisoner were to go back to the cave and tell the others what he has seen that they would criticize him, laugh at him and tell him he would have been better off if he had never escaped. They even go as far to say that if another person were to be released that they should be caught and killed so as to not follow the...

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