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Using Plato’s Allegory to Explain the Socratic Riddle



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    “If I am the wisest of the men, it is only because, whereas other men think know when they do not, I know that I don’t know. ” This statement is puzzling because he is saying he is wise but yet ignorant. People believe that in order to be wise you must know all. Ignorant people claim to know everything and have no idea how much they do not know. According to the statement, it appears that Socrates believes that a truly wise man is one who seeks wisdom and therefore is not wise. Wisdom is a process, not an end. The more knowledge one gains, the more aware one becomes of how much more there is to know.

    An allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The allegory communicates underlying messages with moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often representation of intangible ideas as charity, greed, or envy. A best known example of an allegory is the classical literature the Allegory of The Cave by Plato. The Allegory of the Cave represents the human journey and struggle to reach understanding and enlightenment.

    The allegory of the cave begins describing a cave inhabited by a group of prisoners who have been chained and held immobile since infancy. Their legs, hands, and head shackled by chains limiting their movement, compelling them to gaze at the wall in front of them. There is a fire that burns behind them and unknown people walk with objects which cast shadows of those objects providing the prisoners with view of what they believe to reality. One prisoner is release and dragged outside of the cave, to the real.

    At first he is blinded by the sunlight because he is accustomed to the dim light of the cave but shortly after adjust. He becomes aware of his surrounding and realizes the truth about the inside of the cave. The prisoner returns back to the cave, and is eager to share with the other his awareness of the truth that he discovered. He then explains that there is real world beside the cave and the shadows they have learned to know are the reflection of real objects. The other prisoners resist the enlightenment and attack him for trying to bring change.

    Using Plato’s Allegory to Explain the Socratic Riddle. (2017, Apr 02). Retrieved from

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