This is a symbolic representation of a dilemma that human beings undergo in the process of being enlightened. In his explanation, Plato contends that the process of human enlightenment is accompanied by struggle and pain. To him, human beings sometimes might conform to conditions that normally restrict them to attain the best in their life. He says that they usually perceive what they can only see as the only reality. They limit their potential to what they can only see. This to him is an inferior perception of what reality is. Human beings seem to be like in an underground cave.
They cannot be able to see the outside reality. What they can only see are the shadows of the real things in the actual world on a wall inside the cave. The individuals’ heads are focused in front of a wall and their heads cannot be able to turn in any other direction. Behind them and outside the cave are people who are walking along a path. They manipulate puppets whose images are reflected on the wall inside the cave. There is also a big flame of fire burning outside the cave (Plato, 1941).
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The images that they see inside the cave are translated to be the reality. From his point of view, this is not always the truth. They have more potential than they think. What they need to do is to get out of the cave and seek for the real truth. The reality is outside the cave. In this case, the individual is restricted from attaining his/her maximum potential by the chains that are fastened on his/her hands. They are only restrained to look in one direction only. They cannot even be able to view their sideways. Plato from an in-depth perspective considers a superficial perception as one of the reasons as to why most people do not attain their best in life. Getting out of the underground cave is the requisite to attaining, maximum enlightened. (Plato, 1941).
The knowledge that individuals get from their senses is a false illusion and the true knowledge can be got from our intellects. Human beings must be able to think in a manner that transcends their physical observation (Plato, 1941). The best kind of education that one can get from Plato’s perspective is the one in which the tutor directs the student to apprehend ideas on their own. The enlightened individual, the philosopher-king, has a responsibility in the society according to him. He is supposed to be the ruler.
In the allegory (simile) of the cave, Plato attempted to explain what would happen to individuals after they come out of the cave. This is likened to the behavior and attitude that people would embrace if they embrace philosophy. There would be a lot of suffering and pain in the process of adapting to enlightenment but it brings a lot of joy and contentment to the freed man who accepts the transformed nature. To him some would embrace the enlightenment while others would wish to turn back to the cave. The glare of the fire would frighten them.
The allegory from a broad perspective explains the concept of enlightenment and perception of reality of nature in human beings. The enlightened man who accepts the sunshine and conforms to the changes stands a better chance to influence others to know the reality. The minor concerns are abandoned and he/she focuses to adapt to the truth. The simple idea of the allegory of the cave still remains relevant today especially in the interpretation of films, literature and arts. They are common and popular informants on the interpretation of the current events in the society.
Plato’s thinking has a far reaching impact. He has influenced the theologians and other great world thinkers. His illustrations which were backed up by figurative comparisons are highly applied in the modern works. They help the audience or the recipients of the information to be able to understand concepts in a deeper way than they could have done in a normal way.
“Image studies, a venture that aims to present a wide-ranging and inclusive framework within which an assessment of the nature and influence of the image in contemporary culture can occur.” (Manghani et. al. 2006). The use of images in trying to explain a concept in the real world is highly applicable in the 21st century. This is because the images that are used in explaining a contemporary issue normally aid in making sense of the situation described in the context. The audience is normally put in a reality world such that the understanding of the concept becomes easier. The resulting analysis of the reflection of the events or situations being compared will assist one to get an in-depth view of the situation.
Visual culture as an art technique has been used to present the past in a way that enhances understanding and an effective communicating medium. For example, the traditional art of the flamenco could be seen as an intangible. When it is visualized, it becomes more vivid to the audience. The body, movement, costume and the setting. Heritage is more concerned with the object artifact.( Webb,2009)
The visual representation is highly applicable to the tourism industry. The heritage in the tourism industry is normally made real by the creativity expressed in form of the images. The visual culture and the tourism are intertwined. On another dimension, tourists normally take photographs of the areas they are visiting. This becomes visual information that can be used later for an individual to comprehend the details that one wants over a long period of time. The data presented in form of images will allow the reader to comprehend and also analyze the details of the photograph with a lot of ease.
From the political point of view, Plato says that the philosopher king is the most adequate personality to lead the society. This is by virtue that he/she has attained the sunnum bonum. He says that those who have experienced the enlightenment should be able to enlighten others. He says that they should cease from returning into the cave which is full of darkness. When this scenario is likened to the current situation in politics, most leaders do not apprehend the real meaning of leadership. There is therefore a lot of failure in politics because they do not want enlightenment to guide them. For example, Plato’s conception warns against clinging on to superficial ideals which are not real.
The politics should not be based on fiction but on reality. From his point of view, there is the world of ideas and the world of reality ( Plato, 1941). The person who remains in the world of shadows is never fit to be the leader. Leaders who rally behind ethnic or racial groups to back them during election period cannot be able to exploit their full potential. They are still chained by darkness. Individuals who can go out and exploit their full potential are the fit for leadership positions.
The politicians are usually driven into politics by self interests. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson alongside the work of Plato assert that the real power is the one where the person is driven by the love of duty. Most of the modern politicians are driven by the spirit of self interest. The obligation that comes with power is neglected. This limiting of the seniority leads them to have access to less power.
Alongside literature, allegory has been used to bring an in-depth meaning of a situation especially in music. The images portrayed in certain types of music have an underlying meaning that surpasses what a layman can perceive it to mean. Artists use different images of objects, people and others to pass an important message to the audience.( McRobbie, 2005).
In the broadcasting field, there is a lot of application of Plato’s ideas. The mainstream televised media is usually held to be true in all things that it portrays to the public. For instance, an individual who has been used to a local television may not be able to view other media. If the broadcasting medium they are used to usually brings accurate information to them, then the individuals might also perceive international information or news to be real. From their point of view, they believe that the medium cannot distort any information. They therefore interpret all the news brought through the media as accurate and reliable although they may not prove its competency. In such a case, the people can even translate the social comedy to mean reality which can lead to distortion of the intended function of the comedy. Individuals have to ascend from the world of senses to the world of thoughts (Anna, 1981, p.355).
The education system can also be an example of a modern teaching of Plato. He advocates for an education that emphasizes on guiding an individual to discover for themselves rather than mere memorization. This to him leads to full discovery of the information and the guided person will get the real meaning of what was intended. Learning from this perspective is therefore stimulated by the desire to move away from the traditions or what is termed as common to the uncommon. The passion and the desire that we put to learn more and to explore new things is the one that makes us gain new knowledge. Basing the argument from Plato’s argument, the educational system should be effective so as to guide the individual to get out of ignorance and gain the reality of discovering things on their own.
The works of Plato have therefore transcended space and time. They have survived until the present age where the thoughts of resemblance are highly applied to give meaning to different situations in order for the intended meaning to be understood by the people. The simile of the cave as explained by Plato is a rich source of information pertaining reality especially in the modern world. The issues addressed by Plato need to be recognized and understood as pre-requisites in understanding nature and reality from the human point of view. If not taken care, some of the events that are ignored in the modern world can have adverse effects on our lives and that of others. However, if heeded to, they can have a profound effect on the modern way of thinking and acting in different circumstances.
Religious views can also be said to concur with Plato’s idea. For instance, Christians and Muslims believe that there the world is not their destiny. This is just the physical world. The spiritual world is in paradise. In this case, the mind is made to venture into the metaphysical world and neglect the physical world which Plato says that it is not the real one. Whatever is real is what we conceive with our intellects rather than that which we perceive with our senses.