Allegory of the cave is one of the most interpreted and reflected upon among the thoughts of Plato. It is one of the far-fetched analogies in the history of philosophy. Plato’s cave analogy arises in the conversation between Socrates and Glaucon, Heidegger, and Sadler (1988) claim that “Plato introduces the allegory by having Socrates enter into conversation with Glaucon and recount it to him”( p. 17). The truth may seem to be relative, but it is absolute. In the quest for truth, we are deceived by appearances before coming to reality. Plato and Reeve (2004, p. 209) Socrates argues that “All in all, what the prisoners, then take for true reality is nothing other than the shadows of those artifacts”.
Almost every society has a history. Some societies develop more rapidly than others. Those that develop faster, realize that there are erroneous ideas that they held to be true, but now they are not because they realize it was due to a lack of proper knowledge about the reality. The society that developed gradually, still thinks that what the developed society now term as nonsense is true to them. This is because some societies are left still swimming in the ocean of their cultures that they believe to answer all their questions. They remain bound to their worldview, which mystifies the truth. This shows that what one party may call truth may not be true in the other. Therefore, truth is an investigation into reality and can only be attained by a vivid encounter with reality, beginning with the things that are familiar at that initial level of knowledge to the most real things. Plato and Reeve (2004) Socrates argue that “At first, he would see shadows most easily, then images of men and other things in the water, then the things themselves” (p. 209). Through a repeated impression, he is familiar with the reality or truth.
Before the thoughts and discovery made by Galileo Galilee, it was believed that the sun goes around the earth, and the earth was a motionless object. When Galileo published his thoughts, the Roman Catholic Church asked him to turn down his new- found idea because it contradicted the Holy Bible. Galileo refused to eschew his idea and has a result he was excommunicated by the church and worse, after his burial, his cadaver was exhumed and executed by burning. This is a perfect example of how people hate the truth when it reprimands their way of thinking. Augustine (1984, p. 142) he states that “they love truth when it enlightens, but hate it when it accuses them”. Finally, the same Catholic Church acknowledged the thoughts of Galileo as to be true. Socrates was a very intelligent and wise man who loved the society, and he gave his best for the society. When he began teaching young people, new ideas that would better their lives and that of the future society, he was accused of misleading the youth and was killed by poisoning.
The truth is meant to perfect the minds of people to make them better and enable them to develop. Truth is achieved in the society by education. Stones (1966) avow that “The more primitive the society, the more primitive, will be the modes of transmission and the skills which are transmitted. It might well be said, however, the education and the society develop hand in hand” (p. 338). Therefore, the more educated the society is the more advanced it is in its mode of transmission. Just the as the man is taken from the cave to the real world where he sees things as they really are, so do the varied societies need to invest in education so that they better their future.
However painful knowing the truth may be; it is praiseworthy to journey from the state of illusion to the reality. As a little boy our movement was very limited. We were not allowed to meander in the village or eat anything which was not cooked by our mother. Due to this constraint, the only world that existed for me was my home. That time we had no television or even radio; the only information we were getting was what our parent judged to be good for us. We were absolutely cut from the outside world. One day, when my parents were out, I decided to tour outside our confinement. Outside our fortified walls were an amazing experience. I saw beautiful homes and nice people. One girl of about seven years requested me to visit her family. When we arrived at her home, everything was startling. When we were served food I almost refused but out of curiosity, I decided to accept the offer. This meal changed my mind forever because I initially believed that the only nice food was my mother’s. The food was so delicious that my mother’s seemed as just a mere imitation. From this experience, I learned that all that I knew was just a shadow of real things. This experience made me realize that things get clearer the more we come into contact with the reality.
Therefore, we have noted that the assumption that truth could sometimes be hidden in form of shadows is true. This is the reason why many people fear the truth even when they know it will help them. They know that the process of looking for truth is sometimes hard, painful, and full of setbacks. Therefore, however, painful the truth is, people should embrace it with all its entirety.
Augustine. (1984). Augustine of Hippo Selected Writings. USA: Paulist Press.
Heideger,M.,& Ted,T.(1988). The Essence of Truth: On Plato’s Parable of the Cave and the Theaetetus: New York: Vittorio Westermann Combitt, Frankffurt am Main.
Plato, & Reeve,C. (2004).The Republic of Plato, C.D.Reeve. USA: Inc.
Stones, E. (1966). An Introduction to Educational Psychology. Bungay: Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press), Ltd.