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The myth of Plato's cave: what it is and what it implies

The myth of Plato's cave: what it is and what it implies

One of the greatest philosophical allegories in history that exist is the myth of the cave. It has marked the Western culture of thought until today. This myth, created by Plato, is fundamental both in all his work and in the dominant ideologies of today.


  • 1 What is the myth of Plato's cave
  • 2 What does the cave myth imply
  • 3 The myth of the cave today

What is the myth of Plato's cave

The Republic's book, by Plato, is full of philosophical writings full of wisdom. The myth of the cave is one of them, and It has stood out throughout history for its complexity and the amount of ramifications it can have.

In this myth, Plato describes a fictional situation, which served as an example to understand the conception that the Greek philosopher had about the relationship between the physical and ideas.

In this myth, Plato he tells that a series of men were born in the depths of a cave, and since then they remain chained to her, without ever leaving. This means that they have no way of knowing the origin or the reason for that situation.

They are always facing the wall, with their chains grabbing them from behind. A little above them, there is a bonfire that illuminates the area slightly. Between them a wall rises, which represents the traps.

Between that wall and the bonfire are other men, who carry objects whose shadows appear projected in the form of shadows above the wall, on the wall contemplated by the chained. This makes them see silhouettes that can be animals, mountains or people, as if they were located in the distance.

Plato concludes that Chained men, who only see shadows, are really like us. Neither do we see more than false shadows, who cheat about reality. All this causes us to lose the focus of the main thing: that we are chained.

But, What would happen if one of the men broke free from the chains and looked back? The light of the fire would force him to look away, the figures that appear above the wall would seem blurred and unreal.

If he also had to leave the cave, the sun would blind him and I would like to return quickly to her. I would need to spend a lot of time and effort to see things as they are. And, if he returned to the cave, he would be taken with a madman for everything he said about the real world.

What does the cave myth imply

In this myth of Plato they mix a series of ideas that are fundamental in idealistic philosophy. On the one hand, the belief that there is a truth, whatever our opinion. On the other, that deception makes us stay far from the truth.

And finally, a clear conclusion: once the truth is known, there is no going back. The man who knows her cannot believe that the shadows on the wall are animals, shadows and trees.

These fundamental ideas have had a lot of development since then, and even today they are a constant subject of debate. In fact, now we are going to show you how you can see in your day to day some of those ideas.

The myth of the cave today

Is it possible to see Plato's ideas reflected today, in your daily routine? The answer is yes, and here we are going to show you some examples:

  • The wall of the cave made the shadows arrive distorted and that the light from the bonfire was not clear. That is, it acted as reality distorter. Doesn't it sound, for example, to something similar to what the media today?
  • The release of the chains made by the man who goes out of the cave would be similar to what is currently a personal revolution. Either by leaving behind a person or a situation, ideology or religion harmful to you, that revolution would be a liberation from chains.
  • The ascension to the truth: In that hard process there is a psychological change, and the new perception of the world will be influenced by past experiences. That discomfort that produces a radical change of thought is represented by the blinding light of the outside.
  • Return: The diffusion of the new ideas created is the last part of the myth. The shocking or even rejection impressions that can be expressed by those who still remain chained to the basic dogmas of society would be easy signs to perceive.

It is clear that The myth of the cave is something that will continue to be analyzed from philosophy, ethics and sociology in the coming years. Despite being such an old text, his ideas are still valid and his way of interpreting life has been recognized as successful.

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