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All rights reserved. Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman. Open Culture openculture. We may not have completed and interpreted the research ourselves and therefore careful scrutiny through peer review and individual critical analysis is of utmost importance. The prisoners also co-construct the world between them, sharing a dialogue surrounding the images cast in front of them.
Back to the story:. One of the prisoners has help and breaks free from his chains. Then he is forced to turn around and look at the fire. The light of the fire hurts his eyes and makes him immediately want to turn back around and. In other words, the prisoner initially finds the light representing the truth, an alternative truth or reality very challenging to see and so does not want to pursue it.
It would be easier to look away back into the shadows. However, after his eyes adjust to the firelight, reluctantly and with great difficulty he is forced to progress out of the cave and into the sunlight, which is a painful process. This represents a journey of greater understanding and the challenges that come with it.
We have all found the journey of gaining knowledge, interpreting it and applying it a challenge in one way or another in our personal and professional lives. The story continues:. So the prisoner progressed past the realm of the firelight, and now into the realm of sunlight.
The first thing he would find easiest to look at is the shadows, and then reflections of men and objects in the water, and then finally the prisoner is able to look at the sun itself which he realises is the source of the reflections. For me, this represents the way in which knowledge can be delivered may be best understood within the context of previous experience including socially acceptable constructs.
This allows connections to be made between our prior views of the world and the formation of new information or knowledge that we have perceived and interpreted. When these connections relate to prior experience or conceptualised within familiar paradigms, they become easier to digest, absorb and interpret successfully. Simply being told new information in an abstract way or delivered in a style and manner that is out of keeping of social norms may not be a successful strategy.
So, he goes back into the cave and tries to tell his fellow prisoners the truth outside. But the prisoners think that he is dangerous because the information that he tells them is so abstract and opposed to what they know. The prisoners choose not to be free because they are comfortable in their own world of ignorance, and they are hostile to people who want to give them an alternative view of the world.
My interpretation is that there is a natural tendency to resist certain forms of knowledge, particularly if the subject area has been around for a while. Ignorance is bliss! The prisoner that escaped from the cave questioned all his beliefs as he experienced a change in his view of the world rather than just being told an alternative.
Being a passive observer , as the prisoners who wish to stay in the cave, would generally prefer to keep things as they are. According to Plato, education is seeing things differently. Therefore, as our conception of truth changes, so will our engagement with education.
He believed that we all have the capacity to learn but not everyone has the desire to learn; desire and resistance are important in education because we have to be willing to learn alternative paradigms even though it may be hard to accept at times. This often results in telling people what to do in a very directive manner that frequently ends up putting people off or stifling change rather than steering people on an alternative path.
The people who were carrying the objects across the walkway, which projected shadows on the wall, represent the authority of today. Within the physiotherapy profession, they may be our union leaders, educators, researchers, course providers, cultural influencers, social media icons as well as clinical and professional leads; they influence the opinions of people and help determine the beliefs and attitudes of people within our professional society. The person who helped the prisoner out of the cave could be seen as a teacher.
Socrates compares his work as a teacher like that of a midwife. A midwife does not give birth for a person, however a midwife has seen a lot of people give birth and coached a lot of people through it, similarly, a teacher does not get an education for the student, but can guide students towards it. Using a direct style and manner that is out of keeping with professional dialogue is unlikely to facilitate learning or behavioural change, in fact, it is more likely to make people resist it. Much like, if the escaped prisoner returned to the other prisoners brandishing a torch lit by the flame and put it close to them to see an alternative perspective.
This would likely cause the imprisoned prisoners flinch and close their eyes from the light, therefore representing stifling learning and behavioural change. An alternative method would be to introduce the light and demonstrate how it changed the shape and position of the shadows while talking them through the process allowing the prisoners to change the perspective through cognitive and perceptive dissonance, therefore representing a challenge in the experience with brand new alternatives presented.
It is important to have that background knowledge to understand why Plato believes that an oligarchy is the best form of government. However, Plato says if the prisoner was forced to go through the motions, their eyes would adjust to the sun and they could begin to see the world for what it is, only believing that the cave shadows aren't real until they see it for themself.
Plato continues to compare this to humans, saying people would respond in a similar way. He says that philosophers are similar to the freed prisoner after the prisoner's eyes adjust. Philosophers work through the pain of learning the truth and accept it. His story explores the negative theory that humans do all they can to evade the truth because instead of creating freedom, it produces even more of a prison. He also said, during his investigative philosophical debates, youthful Greek aristocrats witnessed the perceived wise man being examined and imitated Socrates.
This in part and the fact that Socrates challenged the wisdom of poets, craftsmen and politicians resulted to rancorous alliance to halt his progress. Was Socrates a victim of political in-fighting then? The ideas, proceedings and ultimate judgement had a political hand all stemming from Socrates criticism to the political class, poets, and craftsmen through his philosophical engagements. Socrates was found guilty with a narrow margin, but his proposal for penalty added insult to injury.
Neo feels compelled to expose the Matrix and enlighten humanity of their imprisoned state Plato indicates in his Allegory that the response of the prisoner once learning the truth would be one of pity for those still in the darkness Plato. Descartes expresses an almost paranoid circular argument for reality. The darkness of the cave was Ignorance in physical form, this lead the prisoners to believe that the shadows were real….
The sharp pains represent the perspective of a person beginning to alter in its limitations since it is an immense adjustment to come out of comfort. Initially, a person will think that what they saw is not truth yet their perceptions are true since they have been familiar with this type of thinking forever. Only what is familiar to them in the new truth being introduced will be interpreted.
This world is not perfect when it come to the idea of knowing what perfection is. Home Flashcards Create Flashcards Essays. Essays Essays FlashCards. Browse Essays. The only light available to them comes from a fire, which is behind them so they cannot see it. All they Since these prisoners have always been like this they know nothing else. They are trapped like this and cannot go beyond the surface. The prisoners here are supposed to represent us. It is indeed we metaphorically chained in a cave and what we perceive as reality is the shadows puppeteered on the cave wall.
Due to this our souls are trapped within our bodies. Behind the prisoners their captors build and light a fire so that any shadows caused will be shown on the wall the prisoners are chained to face. The captors make objects such as animals, people and machines.
Whilst they impersonate these things they make noises whilst doing so this leads the prisoners to believe that these shadows in front of them are real objects when they in-fact are not at all real. The prisoners begin to name the shadows of not even real objects but shapes and models of them to continue to feed their delusion.
Another explanation being that between This simple idea, is that a prisoner who has only known a cave and its shadows on a wall as his only tangible reality, but then when released, learns the truth of existence, which none of his fellow prisoners can comprehend.
This is used to explain the dangers of ignorant bliss and the rewards of true illumination. The cave analogy is an example of the importance of knowledge, it gives us a look into how Socrates and Plato disapproved of their democracy, which can still be used today as a lead way into the importance of education for any culture.
The cave analogy gives the reader insight on the importance of understanding life and never settling for obliviousness. It makes the statement that ignorance is never happiness because true knowledge can set one free of their restraints of society. One has to undergo steps in their pursuit of true enlightenment and what one sees and hears is really just opinion, not true knowledge. If one wants to gain real knowledge, one has to get it through philosophical reasoning.
Only then can the shackles come off and the possibility of leaving the cave become a reality. Furthermore, since the importance of this philosophical principle has been described, next will focus on how this can be applied to Plato uses the analogy of the cave to illustrate the varying degrees of human nature between enlightened and unenlightenment.
The varying degrees in enlightenment refer to the varying degrees in which we understand reality. The stage furthest from enlightenment occurs when the prisoners, in the analogy of the cave , can see only a shadow of an imitation of reality.
This occurs when the prisoners in the analogy are bound in a cave preventing any movement and the only light in the cave is provided by a fire burning behind them. Between the prisoners and the fire is a parapet. On the surface the parapet, puppets are being manipulated and the prisoners can only see the reflection of the puppets and can hear only their echoes. Plato is arguing that Plato believed that once the escapee Philosopher is outside of the cave , that they can use the power of reason to truly know what reality is.
He believes that the world around us is not real, and that the world of the forms is the true reality where we can gain knowledge and understanding. In this analogy , Plato implies that only by investigating, using our priori can philosophers gain the knowledge of the world of the forms. When mentioning the return to the cave , The analogy of the cave tells us nothing about reality. Many people live in this town, and it has a school, a church, a post office and a shop.