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Allegory of the Cave and Theory of Forms by Plato Review

Plato experienced a variety of influences from previous philosophical movements. The pre-Socratic influential thinkers include Protagoras, whose relativist thought inspired Plato’s dialogues despite contradictions between the two thinkers’ approaches. As for the Sophists, some contempt for them could have encouraged Plato to achieve excellence in reasoning. The impact of Socrates was the most obvious, resulting in Plato’s tremendous interest in looking at politics through the prism of philosophy.

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Allegory of the Cave and Theory of Forms reveal important things about Plato’s philosophy, including an interest in distinguishing between the real and the illusory. In the cave story, Plato aims to explore the nature of people’s flawed and limited reasoning and perception by using the image of the dark cave (Hosle 66). The idea of eikasia, the inability to perceive images, illustrates the illusory nature of what humans perceive to be true (Hosle 66). The Theory of Forms has a similar message and questions the “reality” of the observable world (Assaturian 353). In it, physical objects are not more than the imitations of corresponding immaterial ideas.

The works mentioned above explain a lot about the metaphysics aspect of the intellectual heritage Plato left as a philosopher. As a metaphysical dualist, Plato, through his Theory of Forms, theorizes on the right way of thinking about the world and explaining its nature, processes, or other aspects of reality. In opposition to monism, dualism implies that reality is best explained when due attention is devoted to the radically dissimilar substance types, such as what can and cannot be seen or perceived physically.

Finally, the Phaedo and the Allegory of the Cave can inspire life-changing philosophical insights. In the Phaedo, Plato explains that death is not as bad as it seems to be, whereas physical illness remains inherently negative due to being contrary to physical pleasure (Betegh 232). This work implies the idea of the human soul as something indestructible that cannot be divided into separate parts simply because it has no definite structure and is different from physical matter. The Allegory of the Cave, from my perspective, encourages the audience to remain aware of the multiple barriers to the exploration of objective truth and emphasize reasoning as the only valid tool for getting knowledge.

Works Cited

Assaturian, Sosseh. “What the Forms Are Not: Plato on Conceptualism in Parmenides 132b–c.” Philosophical Studies, vol. 177, no. 2, 2020, pp. 353-368.

Betegh, Gábor. “Plato on Illness in the Phaedo, the Republic, and the Timaeus.” Plato’s Timaeus, pp. 228-258.

Hosle, Paul. “The Allegory of the Cave, the Ending of the Republic, and the Stages of Moral Enlightenment.” Philologus, vol. 164, no. 1, 2020, pp. 66-82.

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