Clarification of Answer by
12 Dec 2003 20:23 PST
You seem to understand my response without knowing that you understand it!
Think of the allegory as a mutual obligation; the state has freed and
educated the philosophers, taught them the 'truth', and now the
philosophers must use their knowledge to maintain the State by
governing the cave-dwellers.
As you will understand from your readings of Plato, it is only a
certain class of people who are suited to being Philosopher Kings
(PKs). Only these people can understand truth. Because the State has
freed and educated and essentially 'made' the PKs, the PKs owe
something to the State in return. This something is to debate and
decide upon policy, and to help maintain the State.
As we see all around the world, people rise against their States and
governments because they dislike policy, because they believe policy
to be based on untruths, or because they are 'in the dark' about facts
and do not understand the reasons for a decision. This translates well
to Plato's allegory, the PKs are 'forced' back in to the cave in order
to try and prevent revolt; they must reason, argue and explain in
order to convince the polis that the State is doing the right thing.
Naturally, the cave-dwellers are suspicious of the PKs, as what they
are saying is contradictory to what they 'know' about the shadows on
I hope that this has helped you with your understanding of the Cave
Allegory. If you need any further clarification, feel free to request
All the best,