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An Analysis of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

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‘The Analogy of the Cave tells us nothing about reality’ Discuss. (10) Initially, I would say that Plato’s Allegory of the Cave doesn’t tell us anything about reality, and by doing so I would have to agree with the statement. My reasoning for this is straightforward and simple, Plato implies that the senses are completely useless, and by doing so he also implies that empiricist ways are also useless for they rely solely upon the senses. This shows to us that the Plato’s allegory cannot tell us anything about reality as we have survived for millions of years by using empiricist techniques, or more specifically the senses. It would simply be impossible for us to live without them. These senses are sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, and Plato claims that in order to understand reality we mustn’t use them, instead relying on rationalist techniques like logic and reason, this, in some circumstances couldn’t tell us a thing about reality.

An example of this would be that we cannot gain all of our knowledge through thinking alone. For example, I could think of a fruit like an apple or banana and I could think of what it would possibly taste like, however, you wouldn’t be able to imagine the taste, this simply isn’t possible. We couldn’t just think that bananas or apples taste delicious because we don’t actually know how they would taste without actually eating it, and if we were to do this we would have to rely on the sense of taste, an empiricist sense, this clearly shows how the Analogy of the Cave cannot possibly tell us anything about reality as humanity relies on empiricism for the most basic of tasks as my example above clearly shows. Of course that isn’t to say that one may not counter my argument would be the universal and eternal nature of rationalist thought enabling everyone to use it to come to exact same conclusion. This can be shown if we return back to Plato’s allegory.

After having escaped from the dark, shadow infested realm the prisoner returns to the others in the cave to let them know of his discovery of the outside world, telling them of the illusion they are under. Telling the cave dwellers that you have come upon a certain level of truth beyond the appearances that they have come to know as reflections of truth. With logic and reason on your side, you may incite people to reject the shadows; you may even persuade some people to leave the cave with you. You can successfully reason-away their blind assumptions but it would be a far greater challenge to say what reality is, in essence.

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