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Analysis of Plato's "the Allegory of the Cave"

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Essay title: Analysis of Plato's "the Allegory of the Cave"

Analysis of Plato's "The Allegory of the Cave"

The moist air of the cave hovers in a homeostatic manner around the manТs conditioned skin. He sits, staring at the flat, cold surface of rock in front of him. Nothing that he sees surprises him. He just stares blankly at the recurrent shadows dancing in a dull glow. He is motionlessly caught in a state of a calm, content trance. The cold chains around his neck match the vacancy of life his face. The only expression seen is a small rising in the corners of the manТs mouth, producing a strangely content smirk. Nothing is heard except a constant, repetitive drip of water forming a stalagmite deep within the cave. Suddenly a voice awakens the man out his trance. The voice whispers into the manТs ear, УI can show you a path to knowledge and bring you out of your cave and into the sun. I can show you a life without the chains, a life of absolute freedom. All you have to do is follow me.Ф The man sits, contemplating the reliability and safety of this advice. These cave walls are all he has known. Why should he want to leave the familiar to follow an untrustworthy voice to what he claims to be a better existence? Suddenly the world around him collapses. He is confused by what the voice says, and is driven emphatic by his curiosity of what this path to the truth of life really is.

In УThe Allegory of the Cave,Ф Plato addresses one of the most controversial and recurrent themes of human existence. He is the philosophical voice that tempts the man of the cave to join him in a journey to enlightenment. He views most of the population as prisoners, chained in a dark cave, watching shadows dance on the wall. They do not care what causes the shadows, nor do they try to resist the chains that hold their head in place. If someone were to break free, they would see that the shadows are the effect of people dancing around a fire. If they dared to venture even further then they would eventually find there way out of the cave and see the sun, the ultimate truth, for the first time.

The allegory may become more proximal and accessible when compared to todayТs pop culture, blockbuster hit, УThe Matrix.Ф PlatoТs prisoners become the people trapped inside the matrix, ignorant of the truth and content with the illusionary life around them. Eventually, one man strives to break free of the УchainsФ of the Matrix and to see the truth. This man, Neo, continues his search until he sees first hand that he is merely hooked up to a machine. He learns that everything in his life, every Уshadow on the wall,Ф is not the truth but an illusion created by artificially intelligent machines. Once he has seen the light, he feels that it is his destiny to bring more people, or prisoners, to the truth and take them out of their illusionary walls. The connection, however, is not perfect. The truth that Plato speaks of is good but bad in the Matrix. It may also be hard to view Keanu Reeves as an ancient philosopher, but one can begin to see PlatoТs meaning a little clearer.

Cinema is not the only medium in which one can see PlatoТs ideas reiterated. Every news station is centered on this idea of seeking, finding, and presenting the truth to their audiences. This has become even more immediate after the attack on the World Trade Center. Every day, policemen and fire fighters struggle to uncover the victimsТ bodies and find their true identity in order to give them a respectable and honorable burial. The growing scare of anthrax is another example. The millions of threats involving anthrax that the FBI receives must be analyzed and labeled as dangerous or just another hoax. If they mistakenly dismiss one threat as untruthful, millions of lives could be at stake. Even the American people have to decide what is the truth and what isnТt. It may be as trivial as avoiding the mall on Halloween due to a rumored attack, but it is still presents a daily decision of finding truth.

PlatoТs message seems simpleЧquit being lazy and seek the truthЧbut the answer to a happy life is not so quaint. Living with knowledge of the truth, whatever that may be, is not always a desirable position. The old saying, ignorance is bliss, is often very

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