Philosophy, Ethics & Theology

TedEd – Plato’s Allegory of the Cave – Alex Gendler

The earliest theory of philosophy is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Source: (Gendler, 2015). Plato, a famous philosopher, explains in his allegory of the cave what he thinks life is like, where the prisoners are forced to watch shadows on the wall for the majority of their lifetime. Only to emerge to a world very much different from what they had been brought up to believe. Alex Gendler unravels Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, found in Book VII of The Republic. In this book he presents the famous metaphor in Western philosophy: the allegory of the cave, which illustrates the effects of education on humans. The idea that truth-seeking and knowledge-seeking is a choice that most people basically choose to ignore.

In this respect, we can develop a sense as to what education is. Education is the formation of human identity, of which we can take with us in preparation for citizenship. People are provided with opportunities and freedoms to learn from mistakes and successes. The more free one is not just being free from the cave as the cave is a metaphor for being free from ignorance and freedom results from thinking. Everything we do is defined by intelligence and thinking. Where human action evolves around ethics, morals, and happiness. Note though education will differ throughout societies of which will expect different things. From here we can summarize that (i) Education is the formation of personal identity. (ii) Education is the formation of someone who exists in community. And (iii) Education is the formation of identity which is the basis for a person to pursue a fully lived flourishing human life.

The knowledge aspects of human existence are innate and intrinsic, from Plato’s perspective. Plato’s account of the Greek philosopher Socrates quotes to him “All I know is that I am ignorant”, see here. Or consider the words that were supposedly spoken by Socrates at his trial after he chose death rather than exile as “The unexamined life is not a human life worth living”, see here. What do you think is meant of both of these statements?

Socrates believed that philosophy (the love of wisdom) should be the most important pursuit in life. Are aim in life or in our role within society is about professing truth in our field (this is why professors have profess in their title), where everyone is a teacher. The premise of the lesson here is that (i) The more we learn the more self-aware we become. (ii) The more we learn the more we develop self-identity. (iii) Thinking can develop meaning in things. (iv) The more we learn the more aware we are of whats right and wrong. And (v) The more we think the more we can form good judgement.


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