Plato’s 'Allegory of the Cave' and My Personal Expierence
Plato is a philosopher from 429 BC, he was known most for his education and his dialogues in Athen. He left a lasting impact on the world outside of Greece, because the broad topics of interest from mathematics, science, and all the way to morals. Plato’s Allegory of the cave is one of his most famous dialogues from his time. Plato’s Allegory of the cave is the path of perspective change and enlightenment and the great movement of enlightening others, trying to change their perspective. People are blinded to only what is shown to them, shows that people are oblivious to what is hidden from realities.
Plato’s Allegory of the cave, is a theory that Plato introduced to his disciple, Glaucon, about enlightenment and what to do. The allegory people who are tied up in a cave, only to see shadows of a fire that they’re unable to see.(199) The people tied on in the cave have been tied up their entire life, all of their life is based on shadows only to look upon a stone wall which are controlled by a puppet master(200), The prisoners never been outside of the cave. The shadows become their whole life and perspective. But suddenly, a prisoner released from his shackles, and he looks up, blinded by the light of the fire(200), he walks up the stairs that leads him to light. He heads outside of the cave, shocked that there was more than just the shadows on the wall, seeing his former view of reality was just a fantasy(201). He explores his new world, seeing light come from the sun, and goes on a journey of enlightenment.
The second half of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” is about what the freely enlightenment should do, on how he should spread his enlightenment among everyone. That his knowledge would be wasted if he only kept it to himself. Overall of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is all about perspective and growth, Plato uses a lot of symbolism to express the message of the allegory. It starts off with the prisoners who are stuck in a cave which represents people who are trapped without the ability to gain knowledge(199). Then the puppet master represent people who control what information is released, the puppet master does this with the shadows. When the prisoner was set free, and explored beyond the abyss of the cave, he went his whole life living in a way where shadows on a wall and when he leaves the cave, he is blinded by the light from the sun. The sun represents enlightenment or knowledge, and he learns that his perspective was all wrong, and there is more than just shadows. But after he leaves the cave, he leads on a journey of enlightenment and as a result he grows significantly from it and come to spread it.
Plato’s Allegory of the cave explains on perspective change, something that we all experience. I had my own experience when I was still young. In the 7th grade, I took a family vacation to Vietnam, the place where my origin lies. Now imagine getting through hours of flights you arrive around 9pm. you finally reach the outside of the airport, you hear the rumbling of motorbikes, there are people everywhere, the city was thriving. You meet up with your relatives and head inside of van and you finally reach their home, once you exit the van, you gaze your surroundings, you see an eight story building that you’ll be living in, all around you are unpaved roads, garage sized homes, one story tall homes. This is what I experienced when I first arrived at my relative’s home. Their first floor was a dedicated pharmacy, but the 7 other floors were for living. As a child, I never actually thought about the people other than my family at the time, I was just living in the moment, enjoying my trip in Vietnam. But reflecting on it, I could see that I was extremely lucky, my relatives lived on top of the world and while you relax on the balcony on the 8th floor, you couldn’t see people working hard the ground floor trying to make enough to eat dinner.
Two weeks later, I got to experience the other side of life. My family and I traveled to Hanoi, another important city of Vietnam, where my other relatives lived. When we got a ride to their home from a taxi service, I met with my grandmother and my aunt from my mother’s side. Their home was tiny. 3 rooms all small and the biggest room was dedicated to a shop they would have to open around 6am everyday to work, a kitchen that was barely big enough to put a stove and a small fridge in one tiny room where all five of my family and their family would have to sleep in.
This is where my perspective changed and my eyes open up to the reality of wealth and poverty, it was like where the prisoner is showered in light after leaving the cave(200). I got to live on two different spectrum, the one family where luxury was given and where my family worked to maintain their tiny home, and their work became life. I got to see poverty, I got to live in the upper class and as I live in the middle class, I got to live it all. I experienced my major perspective change, the beginning of my transition of leaving the cave, from only seeing the middle class life in my own experience, not thinking of the lower and upper class because I was never exposed to the information of the lives of upper and lower class. Like in Plato’s allegory, it was like being locked up, only to look up to shadows that was controlled by others. Then finally being freed by my shackles and moving up the stairs to walk into the light of knowledge to see the real division of wealth and poverty.
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