“Allegory of the Cave” Analysis
In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” there are two types of knowledge that is to be understood; factually based knowledge that is told and is expected to be believed and accepted and knowledge that is learnt by experience and often has a personal meaning to the individual. By understanding these two types of knowledge we are able to better understand how they both contribute to a thriving society and help us grow as individuals. The two types of knowledge referred to by Plato in this allegory both represent two completely different aspects of us.
The first type of knowledge is one that is solely based on what others tell us and we are expected to believe it. In the allegory this type of knowledge is evident when the people in the cave see the images on the cave wall created by the puppets and figures with the fire and hear the echoes. The people would label these things as reality solely because they believe what they are being told. This type of knowledge is based on truths without any type of personal connection.
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The second type of knowledge is based more on learned life experiences, not just believing what others tell you. This type of knowledge is evident in the allegory by representation of the Sun. It shows enlightenment upon finding entrance to the cave and being able to understand and see the world for what it really is. This knowledge would mainly have a personal Harripersaud 2 connection to the individual that would connect to a certain experience. It is this type of knowledge that Plato puts emphasis on because it is what philosophy is based around.
The limitations of these two different types of knowledge can be shown through how the prisoners react to what is around them. Although the prisoners are experiencing shadow and sounds, they do not know what they are hearing or seeing. Because they do not understand, they can only take a guess as to what they might be and accept it as reality. The ignorance of the prisoners and what they deem these objects to be represents Plato’s point that one cannot know anything for certain.
Because they are accepting what they “experience” as reality, they are in fact hindering themselves and will never reach enlightenment because they refuse to question and doubt what reality really is. Knowledge that is experienced could also limit someone because it would cause them to doubt everything. Factual knowledge is good to have mainly because you at least have a guideline or something to build on which would allow us to grow as a person. The two types of knowledge present in the allegory are greatly present in today’s society.
Factual knowledge and experience-based knowledge are both used in almost every school system. Teachers supply us with facts, information and knowledge that would provide the students with guidelines to help them onto the right path. This is evident through the use of textbooks that are mass-produced and all contain the same thing so we are all learning the same content. However, as students we are expected to be able to think critically about what we are learning Harripersaud 3 nd include our own personal experiences into the content. For example, in psychology courses I have taken all the students learned the same theories however for our test that asked us to give examples based on experience we all had something different to write because we all have different life experiences. While one form of knowledge may seem more present than the rest, they both create a happy medium. The types of knowledge present in Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” are different because they both serve a distinctive purpose.
One is used to help make logical connections that would help us to adapt and grow in society. The second type would help an individual to grow and adapt to life itself. This type of knowledge is independent of social institutions and culture that the other knowledge is not. Without both of these knowledge’s present in society there would be no growth or development to improve our everyday lives. Both of these are important to create a balanced and well-adjusted person in society.