Reading Response: Plato’s Republic Book VII The Allegory of the Cave
Instructions: After reading and watching the appropriate videos answer the questions below. Then response to two responses from other students. Following our regular reading response protocols, all answers should be in sentence and paragraph form. Make sure to answer all parts of the question.
The myth told in Book VII of the Republic is often referred to as “The Allegory of the Cave.” What is the meaning of the word “allegory”? What is the etymology of this word which is derived from the Greek, and how does this help illustrate the meaning of the word. (The etymology of words can be found in most online dictionaries as well as an online etymological dictionary).
Why might we use allegories to explain things instead of just doing so in a more direct and transparent manner?
If an allegory is a symbol with some kind of hidden meaning what do you think is the heading meaning behind these symbols? Use your imagination. Socrates says that that the allegory of the cave is a way of presenting an “image of our nature in its education and want(lack) of education, likening it to a condition of the following kind.” How is this myth connected to our education or lack of it? What do you think Plato’s definition of education actually is? Look at especially section 518b-d on p. 197. What do you think the following elements mean?
The prisoners and their chains?
What is the significance of them being like this “from childhood”?
The shadows on the wall and the wall itself?
The various objects which cast the shadows on the wall?
The people who are holding the objects which cast the shadows?
The fire that produces the light used to cast the shadows?
The long passage way out of the cave and its “rough, steep, upward way” and the act of traversing it?
The world outside the cave?
The sun, the other source of light?
The meaning of the disorientation and struggle to adjust to the light when they leave the cave?
The disorientation upon readjusting to returning to the cave?
4. Socrates says that that the allegory of the cave is a way of presenting an “image of our nature in its education and want(lack) of education, likening it to a condition of the following kind.” How is this myth connected to our education or lack of it? What do you think Plato’s definition of education actually is? Look at especially section 518b-d on p. 197.
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