We are chatting in my online Philosophy course about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and what he was trying to express. The parable is about men living in an underground cave with the only light being a fire that burns above the opening. There is also a parapet so the light reflects shadows of people and their activities above. These men have been there since childhood, chained by the leg and the neck, only seeing what is in front of them. They have no idea what the others look like, or themselves, for that matter. After some time, they are given the opportunity to leave the cave. To see things from a different perspective.
Our assignment was to discuss our views of the allegory. I have read such interesting opinions. Most people see it as a quest for knowledge, or to find out what is real.
I see it as being forced to believe a certain way from childhood, no outside influences to challenge what is before you. When I read the allegory, it made me sad to think about being chained to a wall, forced to see only what the ones holding you prisoner want you to see, never questioning, your brain slowly dying, willing to believe anything, no matter how absurd.
I would be the one to challenge everyone, “There has to be more. Why would they feel the need to bind us if there wasn’t more than what we see? None of this makes sense. I’m going to get out of these chains and see what’s up there!” I wouldn’t care if I were the only one, I would not be kept from the big world! Yep, that’s me for sure! And thankfully, I have passed that fire on to my children!
We must be open to new ideas. We must embrace differences, whether we agree or disagree. I wish we would stop judging one another (which is not our job in the first place) and just live. Live for what is, and not what we think it should be (I heard that on a TV show called “The Hart of Dixie”). Leave the cave willingly. Ask why. Yes, it may be uncomfortable at first, painful, even, but imagine the joy of finding out that there is more. More than the shadows. More than the chains. There is fresh air. There is freedom.