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Caves to Knowledge or Knowledge to Aid

Essay by   •  November 13, 2010  •  Essay  •  580 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,253 Views

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"Allegory of a Cave" by Plato is and interesting story that is meant to educate the reader. By presenting a fictional story Plato is able to symbolize many aspects of our lives that we do not often think about. This story is symbolic of many important periods in our lives like education, growing up from a child to an adult, and even visiting a foreign country. It is these important events in our lives that Plato wants us to think about and examine so that we better understand how we develop and view the world

While reading the story I thought about childhood and how the prisoners in the cave were like infants and small children. "their legs and necks chained so they cannot move"(line 6). The prisoners knowing only what they are shown is symbolic of how a parent chooses what a child sees and learns. During the childhood stage of a human life the parent is in control of what their child learns and interacts with, therefore the child's knowledge is limited to what the parent is willing to teach. It seems that even thought the prisoners in the cave are of adult stature they still are controlled like children. However, when one of the prisoners is released into the light he comes to realize that the cave is only a small portion of the world that he now knows. The prisoner leaving the cave is like the child becoming old enough to understand the intricacies of the world without having that information first filtered by the parents. A vast wealth of knowledge is set in front of the child and the prisoner and they are allowed to interpret it without the help of the parents or shadows.

A similar metaphor to growing up is formal education. In this instance the prisoners are taught what they know through shadows and much the same teachers show students the information through examples and textbooks. Formal education eventually ends though and in the story Plato represents that end with the release of the prisoner. The release is symbolic of graduation, the prisoner and alternately the student are now responsible for anymore knowledge that they must acquire. It seems that the prisoner leaving the cave is much the same as a graduate moving into the workplace. If the prisoner does not know what a tree is he must teach himself about it because there is no one to ask, likewise, the student turned employee must instruct himself on work related issues that he does not understand.

It seems that Plato had

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