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Plato's Cave Allegory

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posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 06:43 PM
Reading Plato's work here and his discussion of perception and reality I began to think what if? I mean the man in the cave who's whole reality was simply looking at images on the wall and believing the sounds were coming from. After freeing himself from the contraints and looking into the light, he was urged to simply restrain himself once again as it was easier, And did not want to know the difference. Perception is reality and maybe were just satisfied with that.

When the caveman finally leaves the cave and see's what his reality has become and what really is to be offered, he retreats back into the depths of the cave to inform everybody of what he has learned. They want nothing to do with this nonsence as they are content to where they are. He can not understand why? With what he now knows, why would you want to live like that?

Taking his allegory and comparing it to todays world, it really makes you wonder. What if the matrix is real? And we are just staring at the cave wall watching the movements. What if we are controlled by some force we aren't aware of?

Not to limit this thread to anything one speculation, I just say, ask yourself what if?

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 06:47 PM
I remember reading that in school...quite interesting, and most likely very true.

It kind of freaked me out!

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 07:18 PM
For those who have not read this, You can view it here..

The Myth of the Cave

Behold! human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open toward the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

That is the opening of it, If your not familiar with it or anything of it, I highly recommend reading it and sharing some opinions of What If?

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 07:23 PM
I've read the allegory of the cave before, and it is extremely interesting; I highly recommend it to all, and it is a brief read, only a few pages.

I don't think it has anything to do with the matrix theory (which I think is silly) but does have a great deal to do with the way people think. The people in the cave (in my mind) are stuck in a kind of 'mental trap', either of their own creation or of society/nwo/govt/school or something along those lines. The people in the cave refuse to accept that their understanding of the way things work might actually be both totally wrong and woefully incomplete. (they aren't denying ignorance!) They have been erroneously convinced, either by their own ignorance, or by their peers, schools, or society, of things which are false, and they refuse to challenge those ideas. I got the impression that Plato thought it wasn't so much a deliberate attempt to deceive that created this situation, but more that individuals are lazy and complacent in their personal beliefs.

Here is one translation of the allegory: Allegory of the Cave

edit: chissler posted while I was posting, so I didn't see he also put a link to the allegory, but it's probably a different translation, anyways.

[edit on 11-1-2006 by DragonsDemesne]

posted on Jan, 11 2006 @ 07:34 PM
Dragon I was not meaning to say the allegory had anything to do with the matrix directly, I was pointing out that it makes you wonder that maybe it is possible? But just using that as an example to say that we are so set in our reality today, what if all of the sudden we are yanked out of it and need to accept something else.

Watching war of the worlds the other day also had me thinking, I do not want to get off topic from the allegory but I am just bringing these up as an example. I mean if aliens invaded tomorrow, How would you accept your new reality. Which is the purpose of the allegory. The people down in the cave are comfortable with their reality and do not want to go through the trouble of learning something knew.

As Dragon said this is an extremely short read, probably take 5-10 minutes tops, and it really makes you think.

Are we slaves without knowing it, just watching somebody else play shadow puppets on the wall?

posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 09:55 AM
This thread has remained quiet for several months, but another thread has had me to uncover the Allegory once again. After referring this to another thread, I find myself wishing to pursue this thread again.

Plato's cave really makes you wonder.

Platos Allegory Of The Cave

Do any members have any thoughts or opinions? This is of great interest to myself.

posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 10:16 AM
I had to respond to the thread mostly to comment on your Avatar, Chissler. How funny. skull and bones with crutches!!!

With the cave theory we can attempt to weave the story of Jesus in the cave for 3 days before his ressurection. surely there can be some symbolism contained therein that could resonate with Plato's theory.

posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 10:25 AM
First, good on you Chissler for reading Plato! I do think we live in a matrix. Everything we think, read, buy etc. is all provided by the govt - they control the media, the corporations, school curriculum, etc. Everything we believe has been given to us by osrsganized religion and the govt. What we end up with is a one-dimensional world where no one really stops to think and ask questions. They just end up believing their govt wouldn't hurt them.

About 10 years ago there was a wonderful movie called "Dark City". I thought it was even better than the Matrix. That's kind of how I see our society at this point. And I also believe that Plato was writing about human nature, that people for the most part don't want to deal with reality because it's too scary. Nor do they want to hear any new information that might make them think about leaving the cave.

posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 11:10 AM
Thank you for your responses.

My original post, many months ago, came at a time when I was discussing the validity of the Matrix. It's theme leaked into this thread a little bit, but it is not the intentions of my post.

It can be compared to many other things. Paranormal, Extra Terrestrial, etc.

Where are our civilizations at? Have we escaped the cave? Or are we still chained in the cave staring into the darkness?

The notion that we as humans are more than content with our reality is a good one, I believe. Sometimes we just do not want to know, leave me and my reality alone. Adjustments can be tough. Plato, as usual, did a very good job on expressing this belief.

posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 02:55 PM
I am a proponent of "experiential knowledge", that is, whenever and however possible, I prefer to learn by doing, first-hand, rather than by having it "explained" to me; second-hand knowledge.

It is not alway practical, or even possible; but the "lessons" learned seem to be far more profound and permanent.

I tend to agree, Perception is At Least 9/10ths of reality, so here is a quick "experiential" experiment in reality shifting. Try this to experience some of the same disorientaion our "caveman" must have felt when he encountered the far more vast reality we experience everyday.

We think of Time as being a Linear progression from an identifiable Past through a fleeting Present and onward to an unknowable Future. We concieve of Time in discrete Units: Years, Months, Weeks, Days. And with our technology we even divide this dimension of Reality into further smaller "bits": Hours, Minutes, Seconds and so on.

This is our reality, Time in discrete "bits". But this is a fallicy, a mere convience of our own design, a self-delusion of control over an uncontrollable aspect of Reality.

Consider, it is the nature of Time to "flow". This flow gives structure to the other three dimensions of Reality we are familiar with; the dimensions we call Space, within which we count our existence and the existence of everything we know and/or concieve of, Can conceive of.

But if Time is to flow, we cannot be able to divide Time into discrete units, no matter how miniscule those units might be, for that would require that we be able to "pull" a portion of Time from "out of the Flow of Time", and That would require us to be able to stop Time's flow so that a particular, discrete "bit" of Time be identified and withdrawn.

A drop of water withdrawn from a flowing stream is no longer part of the stream.

Like-wise, to be a stream, there can be No discrete divisions amoung the drops of water which might comprise a "stream"; they are all of a single entity.

As with Time. There can be No discrete Past, Present or Future, despite what our "cave-bound" senses tell us, for we cannot stop Time and divy it up into such gross "packets" without turning true Time into something which we may call time, but which is not really Time.

All is Now.
Space, and therefore, Distance, does not actually exist.
We are One, and All.

posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 04:11 PM
It certainly has a lot to do with the false way people have of "perceiving" the world around them. Our "perception" is not really perception because we don't see the truth. Like Plato's cave allegory implies, we only see shadows of what is really underneath..

What if the man reshackled himself to the cave? Well, I don't think it's as much what if as we might think. Apperently, man (humanity) has indeed reshackled himself to the cave,so there is really no need for conjecture about what "could" happen when it is obvious what is happening. Because of the man's reshakling, we still only see the shadows of what truly exists.

posted on Dec, 3 2006 @ 07:12 PM
One aspect that I really like is the transition phase. When man finally becomes free of the shackles and begins to rise from the cave. The light blinds his eyes and forces him to make a decision. To go back and settle for their own way of life, or push through to uncover the mystery.

Sometimes, we as humans, refuse to push through the light. We are content in the darkness. Once we become comfortable with our reality, we do not want to see much change.

Change is a scary thought for most of us.

Reading the Allegory makes me think of other life forms. Our day to day business would have you believe we are alone in the universe. But it could be that we are still in the darkness. Think how much could be out there, how much we have kept a blind eye to for so many centuries.

posted on Dec, 4 2006 @ 10:26 AM

Originally posted by chissler

Reading the Allegory makes me think of other life forms. Our day to day business would have you believe we are alone in the universe. But it could be that we are still in the darkness. Think how much could be out there, how much we have kept a blind eye to for so many centuries.

There is no "could" be about it;in my honest opinion, we are wtill in darkness.

[edit on 4-12-2006 by SpeakerofTruth]

posted on Dec, 4 2006 @ 01:49 PM

Originally posted by SpeakerofTruth
There is no "could" be about it;in my honest opinion, we are wtill in darkness.

But, that is your opinion. Others have opinions that differ. Their opinions are just as valid and worthy.

I'm undecided where I believe our civilization is in regards to Plato's Allegory.

Have we freed ourselves from the restraints? Have we left the cave? Are we in the transition phase?

Still undecided.

posted on Dec, 4 2006 @ 03:14 PM
What occurs to me is that this presumes that it is in some way "bad" if we are as Plato's allegory.

Ideas such as freedom are part and parcel of our everyday repertoire, and as such may or may not be "real".

No-one has stated explicitly that it would be good to know "the truth" (another of our own inventions?), but the implication is there definitely. Where does it come from?


posted on Dec, 4 2006 @ 04:14 PM
I believe the Allegory takes the impression that knowledge is power. To live in ignorance would be a shame. Remaining in the cave and never knowing what is truly out there, is a waste of a life. What exactly is being served by remaining in the darkness while shackled?

Originally posted by d60944
What occurs to me is that this presumes that it is in some way "bad" if we are as Plato's allegory.

If we focus on the men down in the cave, then yeah I would believe the Allegory has a negative spin on it. But I understand his Allegory has an ascent to enlightenment. A rise from ignorance to understanding.

There is no bad in this, only greatness.

posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 05:20 AM

Originally posted by chissler
I believe the Allegory takes the impression that knowledge is power. To live in ignorance would be a shame. Remaining in the cave and never knowing what is truly out there, is a waste of a life. What exactly is being served by remaining in the darkness while shackled?


posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 06:47 AM

Originally posted by d60944

Living in ignorance serves your happiness?

We will all have opinions that differ, but I consider knowledge to be power. I would not consider living in the darkness to be happiness. This is why the human race is always striving for more, never settling and always asking Why?

posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 07:25 AM
I'm speaking hypothetically, but it seems to be a value-judgement that prizes knowledge as leading to happiness, in the same way as it equates freedom with happiness.

As a point of strict philosophy I don't see the correlation.

I wondered if anyone would care to examine Plato's idea bearing in mind the underlying premises. Plato himself would have equated knowledge with goodness/happiness. It was axiomatic to the school of thought he was a part of, and which was imported into Western civilisation through Helleno-Christian philosophy of Divine Reason.

I propose that happiness and goodness are not connected with freedom and knowledge.

(I don't do that becuase I agree - I am as much conditioned by my culture as anyone - but as a thought experiment)



posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 10:43 AM
While,I do not think that ignorance necessarily brings happiness,I do think d60 has a point. Here is what I have found true. The more you know, the angrier you tend to be. The truth will always anger because the truth is harsh.

When one looks at the world today, one sees a world that is debased by ignorance. However, those that commit some of the most heinous crimes are often times quite knowledgeable. Now, I for one, upon the "revelation" that I had been lied to practically my whole life,whether that be intentionally or unintentionally is beside the point, became very angry. Although, with a little age that rage somewhat dissipated,it still lingers. There are things that I know that sometime,.... I wish that I didn't. In instances like that,sometimes I think ignorance is bliss.

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