The Allegory Of The Cave
“The Allegory of the Cave,” by Plato: Theory of Dimensions
In Plato’s’ The Allegory of the Cave, allows an individual to realize that which they already know. The situation in the cave seems dark and gloomy, like a place no one would ever want to go. However, the reality is that some people are at a point in their lives where that is where they are, in their own “cave”. The people that are in Plato’s’ cave, the prisoners, have always been there. They all have their legs and necks chained and cannot move. They cannot turn their necks or bodies to look around them. The cave is very dark and there is a fire in the distance. There is a wall in front of them and men are frequently carrying tools and vessels and various shaped objects with them. This creates different shaped shadows for the prisoners to view. All that they have seen or ever known is what is in front of them, a two-dimensional world.
A two-dimensional world would represent people that only saw what was in front of them. Plato said to Glaucon, “ To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.” One could only imagine, never seeing or having any previous knowledge of people or objects, only shadows on a wall. Like some people today, all the prisoners know is what is in front of them, a warped perception of reality. If a person only accepts what is in front of them, they too are living in a two-dimensional world. The shadows, to the prisoners are reality because it is all that they have ever known. They don’t know that they are distorted and are a reflection of something that is real.
One example that Plato might use if he were alive today would be a movie theatre. The movie projector would be the fire. The film showing would be the shadows reflected on the wall. The viewers are the prisoners. The shadows on the wall can be compared to most movies that are viewed today because they are not reality but a warped representation of it. If the viewer or prisoner chooses to accept what is in front of them as reality then they are in a sense choosing to live in a two-dimensional world. A prisoner would have to believe that there is more to life than what has been put in front of them in order to change the situation and advance into a three-dimensional world.
In a three-dimensional world people are able to interact with one another and use their senses. One would accept and be able to understand a new reality. For example, if the prisoners were released, they would be curious to turn around and look behind them or walk towards the light, it is human nature. It would also be hard to do. The light would burn their eyes and the outside world would be a major change and might be hard to accept. Naturally, the prisoners would be scared and hesitant, but in order to move into the next world, one must be strong and escape from the cave in order to find a true reality. Once they seek the knowledge and good things in life that make a person happy, they will be living in a three-dimensional world. Plato thought, “…my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right.” For one to live in a three dimensional world, they would not sit back and choose to accept what is in front of them as reality. A person that lives in a two-dimensional world is not truly happy. They have not sought out knowledge or searched for true happiness. For the prisoners trapped in the cave to not ever dream or imagine other realities is showing that they accept where they are in life. It takes a person to truly search for better things in life and simple pleasures to break free from their two-dimensional world