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Plato's "Parable of the Cave" from
allegory, parable, platonic, platonic forms,
philosophy, Socratic Dialogue
Lecture or Handouts: What
famous teacher/philosopher did Plato follow? How did that
teacher die? What famous philosopher was a student of Plato's?
Identify the following folks:
Plato, Glaucon, Socrates, the Sophists
- Describe how the people in the cave are situated in
Plato's parable. Why can't they move their legs or necks
to take a look around? What is the only thing they are
capable of seeing? What is their only source of light?
- What do these prisoners trapped in the cavern believe
- How do the prisoners react when they first see sunlight?
- Why will the prisoner need time to adjust to the world
outside the cave?
- According to Plato, how would the people in the cave
react to an escapee who tried to explain the truth to
them, or who came down and broke their chains to set them
- What is the name of the main speaker in this tale according
to the introductory notes? Is it Plato?
- What is the name of the person Plato addresses? (Read
page 59 closely)
- Why, in the concluding paragraph, does Plato say it
is impossible for professors of education to put knowledge
in the soul which was not there before?
Explain how Plato creates the parable of the cave in a
way that makes it connect with Socrates, Plato's former
Explain the idea of a Platonic Form. Provide examples.
Passages for Identification and Discussion: Be able to
identify from what work these passages come, the author,
who (if any one) is speaking, and briefly explain in two
to three sentences the significance, context, or importance
of the passage in the larger work.
A."And now, I said, let me show in a
figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened:--Behold!
beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth
open toward the light and reaching all along the den; here
they have been from their childhood, and have their legs
and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only
see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning
round their heads."
" . . . And if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let
them [the prisoners] only catch the offender, and they
would put him to death."
C. "And is there anything surprising in one who passes
from divine contemplation to the evil state of man, misbehaving
himself in a ridiculous manner; if, while his eyes and
blinking and before he has become accustomed to the surrounding
darkness, he is compelled to fight in courts of law, or
in other places, about the images or the shadows of the
images of justice?"