25 March 2014
Unseen Truth Truth is not a set thing that is universal to everyone rather it is specific to each and every person. It is something which only can be figured out with time and at some point everyone discovers it in different way. In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, prisoners were deprived of the knowledge about the world and the knowledge that they did receive was given to them forcefully. Dragging the slave outside the cave represented a teacher figure and without this teacher figure, the slave would not have been able to gain any knowledge. On the contrary, in Frederick Douglass’s Learning to Read and Write, he had a thirst for knowledge and endangered his life for that. He taught himself in the absence of formal instructions and learned how to read and write. However, Allegory of the Cave and Learning to Read and Write both share the idea of slavery. The slaves from Plato’s cave and Frederic Douglass both lived in mental darkness and lack of knowledge was their main difficulty. The main idea of both essays is all about knowledge and how people search and sacrifice to acquire knowledge. In Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, prisoners were chained down to the wall and they could not move their heads. The fire behind them provided the only source of light. This light casted shadow’s on the wall in front of them. Since they did not know the world outside the cave, they believed that these shadows were people walking behind them. Their minds constructed stories of what these shadows meant and how to interpret them. The false truth created by these prisoners was their most basic knowledge. The dark cave symbolizes the ignorance and the chained people symbolize humankind as being ignorant. The raised wall in front of the prisoners signifies the limitation of their thinking. With so little knowledge, the prisoners inside the cave constructed their own truth. The cave people were constrained and their reality was based on what they saw. For them, there was no life except the one that existed in front of their eyes. They refused to accept new ideas by threatening those who tried to change their beliefs.
One day one of the prisoners was dragged up the entrance way and was forced to see the outside world. When he first walked outside the cave, he was blinded by the bright light. When he was forced to look at the light, he felt pain and irritation in his eyes which made him turn away. The freed prisoner could not at first adjust to the real world. After a while he realized the reality he was facing. The truth is revealed and he believes in new possibilities. Now he is able to think and examine new ideas. Finally the released prisoner takes in his new surrounding and realizes his entire life was a lie. The shadows he used to see on the wall were actually coming from him. Being exposed to a new truth was difficult for him. He goes back into the darkness of the cave to free the other prisoners. He tries to tell others the new strange reality but they reject him and threaten to kill him. They still think that the shadows are real people because they see only what is directly in front of them. The freed prisoner decides to stay informed with the truth rather than returning to ignorance. The Allegory of the Cave symbolizes the ignorance of the society. The chained people represent the uneducated and uninformed people in our society. It explains that the society is sometimes influenced by a false reality and is afraid of any kind of change. According to an article posted on January 2nd, 2014, people in present society are blinded by what they are only allowed to see, rather than think critically for themselves. They believe that everything they know about the world is as advertised because the alternative is painful for them. So, they surrender their conscience and go on with their daily lives. Plato perceived education as an idea of learning the truth which modified the perception of the