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Q: Plato ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Plato
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: fordsucks-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 10 Dec 2003 15:45 PST
Expires: 09 Jan 2004 15:45 PST
Question ID: 285828
In Platos Republic, Those who leave the cave must be eventually forced
back into it's depths. Why won't they go willingly? Who will force
Subject: Re: Plato
Answered By: shananigans-ga on 11 Dec 2003 06:13 PST
Hi fordsucks,

The 'enlightened prisoners' returning to the cave have been liberated
(unshackled) by the State; they are free both from the physical
constraints of the cave and from the untruths within it. These
enlightened prisoners therefore owe a debt to the State for freeing
and nurturing them, and so must return to the cave for a period of
time in order to serve the State.

The allegory with the Athenian State is that the Philosopher Kings
will possess knowledge - having left the cave - whilst other members
of the polis will still be in the dark. The desire to serve a greater
good means that as part of ruling justly and fairly, the Philosopher
Kings will be 'forced' to try and explain the truth to the polis, by
returing to the 'cave'. However, the people's mistrust of the
Philosopher Kings (whose tales contradict everything they have come to
'know') will make this a particularly difficult task.


These two websites provide particularly easy to understand analyses of
the Cave allegory, and make links to other areas of Platonic thought: (analysis is at the
bottom of the page)


Good luck with the studying!



Search strategy: 'plato cave allegory analysis' entered in to Google
search engine. I've also got a degree in philosophy ;-)

Request for Answer Clarification by fordsucks-ga on 12 Dec 2003 15:18 PST
Why won't they go willingly? The state is the one who forces them back in?

Clarification of Answer by shananigans-ga on 12 Dec 2003 20:23 PST
Hi fordsucks,

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
the wall.

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,

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