Plato’s Allegory Of The Cave And The Matrix

2873 words - 11 pages

The Republic is considered to be one of Plato’s most storied legacies. Plato recorded many different philosophical ideals in his writings. Addressing a wide variety of topics from justice in book one, to knowledge, enlightenment, and the senses as he does in book seven. In his seventh book, when discussing the concept of knowledge, he is virtually addressing the cliché “seeing is believing”, while attempting to validate the roots of our knowledge. By his use of philosophical themes, Plato is able to further his points on enlightenment, knowledge, and education. In this allegory, the depictions of humans as they are chained, their only knowledge of the world is what is seen inside the cave. Plato considers what would happen to people should they embrace the concepts of philosophy, to become enlightened by it, to see things as they truly are. As we have mentioned in class, Plato’s theory did not only present itself in his allegory, but also in the Wachowski brothers’ hit-film, The Matrix. In the film, the protagonist, Neo, suffers from a similar difficulty of adapting to reality, or the truth, which we will see later on. In order to understand Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, one must consider how Plato’s used of symbols to explain what true knowledge (or enlightenment) really is along the comparisons to the Wachowski brothers’ film, The Matrix.
Plato’s concept of The Allegory of the Cave is an idea based on his theory of forms. The theory argues that our knowledge of reality/forms is not real knowledge; only our knowledge of these forms can be considered as real knowledge. The Allegory of the Cave was a conversation between Glaucon and Socrates. Socrates was explaining the cave to Glaucon. There’s a group of prisoners who are bound by chains at their hands, legs, and even neck. They were virtually cut off from seeing anything than the walls they were chained to. The prisoners have been in these conditions since their earliest stages of life. The cave, the wall, and the chains are all the prisoners have ever known. Behind the prisoners, there was a raised path. Above the walkway was a platform, where there was a fire burning, and in front of the fire, was a parapet, which as Plato described it , was like that of the screens Puppeteers use to hide themselves and have the puppets be visible . Each and every day, the prisoners see nothing, but the shadows of the objects and people passing between them and the fire. For their entire lives, the prisoners are exposed to nothing but those images and the sounds made by those walking around. These shadows are all they have ever known, in essence; these shadows are their only “reality”. As time passed, the prisoners would grow accustomed to these sights, later on the prisoners would match the objects with names and the familiar sounds to the images of the shadows (514; Appendix A). In discussing the allegory with Glaucon, Socrates toys around the concept of what could happen to a prisoner...

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