Talk:Allegory of the Cave

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About the interpretation[edit]

The overall content is good, but the article would benefit tremendously if someone could competently tie-in the original Greek terms from the allegory, such as periagoge (the moment of turning around), and apoira (the moment of confusion that motivates the need to seek truth). The more the merrier! Vargie (talk) 21:55, 26 January 2009 (UTC)vargie

Among the many problems, the plot section does not contain the plot, which is instead incorrectly told in the interpretation. For instance, the character does not "break free" but rather is released and compelled to turn around. Also, the movement happens stages: first he is turned around, blinded, and then sees the fire and shadow makers. Then he is dragged above ground, blinded, and then sees the real objects and finally the sun. I will try to clean this up soon. PubliusNemo —Preceding signed but undated comment was added at 02:59, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Does the interpretation need corrected on the article? runfishrun221

It sickens me to see intellectual babble that the any reader can`t comprehend what is spewed out. People need to remember to write to an US 8th grade level and cutout the intellectual crap. The cave is an analogy for waking up out of the slumber you think life is. Its nothing more or less. h0riz0n

I know Plato was a great admirer of Socrates... is the "freed caveman" supposed to represent Socrates or someone like him? -- ヤギ

the formatting of the article is confusing.. I think there was an attempt at quoting, but it results in confusion -- 14:42, 26 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The freed caveman is the metophor for humanity of the enlightened mind. What I fail understand is there is no mention of evil or bad. To know good you must know evil. With out the understanding of the Ying you can not truly understand the Yang.

The reason you fail to understand it, is because you are dwelling within the circle. Plato is looking at the circle from the outside... h0riz0n 12:07 1 Mar 2006
I'm not sure that Plato would agree with you on the importance of Zoroastrian dualism (or Tao dualism). The unfortunate habit of categorizing things in terms of diametricly opposed terminal points (good and evil, riches and poverty, health and sickness, Heaven and Hell, God and Satan, ect) is certainly not the only way of categorizing and understanding the continuum of things that exist. We can certainly raise ourselves above naive realism to the Platonic idealism of forms without resorting to any type of dualism. mydogategodshat 00:13, 6 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but what is the illustration illustrating? A man seeing his own blurred shadow in a cave? That isn't what the parable is about at all. The article should either be graced by an illustration of the actual situation, or with no image at all. 08:35, 5 October 2005 (UTC)

This allegory has elements of the concept of salvation and "calling those things that be not as though they were". I know, I know. A lot of you will not understand, but that's acceptable to me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:54, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, we really need a better image representing the concept. The one we have now really does a bad job of depicting the whole situation. I dont, however, know where to find a better image. [topherWillis|Christopher]] 19:19, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

The first comment stating that everything should be written at an eighth grade level is true only if you have in mind an audience of simpletons and those who refuse to engage in complex thought. Further, Plato was trying to do much more than tell some idiotic story about "waking up." Simplicitly is a desirable characteristic only when the subject is appropriately simplistic. This is not the case in _The Republic_. Prufrockslovesong 05:06, 28 March 2006 (UTC) LH

I added an additional and more simplistic image that most people should "get." H0riz0n 14:38, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

The allegory here I have found is lacking too many variables which make it a worth while collection to philosophical literature. For example, after the one individual comes back from seeing the light and decides to free his friends what then would become of them there after. It brings interest because if they were unlocked and freed would they then be able to re-lock themselves? And also, where would the conception of murder have come in. I do not find this to be a very good piece of literature and find myself more, and more losing intrigue in its purpose. Any ideas as to how to maybe make better sense of this. (The Mule 04:15, 6 February 2006 (UTC))

After they stone him his friends go back to watching the shadows. The locks are metaphors not "real" locks. Silly :p H0riz0n 14:42, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

By freeing other people, the initial freed man will continue his work until his eventual death. Here in the Republic, PLato would use Socrates' life work as an example when Socrates tried to break the bonds of the unwise and show them the light of wisdom (oddly enough, being wise to Socrates is knowing that you are ignorant and any such person who thought they were the wisest in their field, Socrates proved them wrong by questioning them, testing what they thought to be wisdom, in fact, ignorace.) People who believed that their knowlege was inviolatable cast Socrates away until their frustration gave way to murderous retribution that any such person would question their knowledge. Why they refused to be wise of their ignorance is beyond me. Ereaes Talakhan 21:12, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

A problem I have with this allegory is a problem I have with many philosophies, in that they describe a subset of the population as having achieved intellectual superiority and worthy of governing the rest. What's missing from Plato's allegory is that after the man emerges from the cave and experiences his surroundings, he will only understand them when he becomes them. A man will only truly understand a farmer when he becomes a farmer, will truly understand a husband when he becomes a husband, a father when he becomes a father, a brother when he becomes a brother. These things he can achieve, but there are countless more that he cannot. He cannot truly understand a mother because he cannot become one, the earth because he cannot become earth, animals because he cannot become animals, the sun because he cannot become the sun. In other words, even the most enlightened among us cannot truly understand the world. Rather, he or she can only perceive it. Consequently, no one is truly enlightened and no one is worthy of governing his fellow man. Consequently, those in positions of power should have an enormous sense of humility. rcoutts 13:16, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Who is speaking?[edit]

The article should make it clear that "Plato" never speaks directly to the readers in The Republic. It is the character of Socrates, whose relation to the historical figure of Socrates is a matter of scholarly debate.

And in quoting the source it should be made clear just what translation is being quoted. For example that last large block quote is not like any translation that I have seen, its wording is quite different from Jowett (for example) and I cannot find phrases from it in Waterfield (the two translators mentioned at the top) .. So where is that "quote" taken from? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:57, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Popular Culture[edit]

I think that there is one contributor who insists on adding references to popular culture in these articles. He especially likes "The Matrix" movie. I found similar references in the Popper and Einstein articles. They greatly demean Wikipedia. Lestrade 19:51, 15 October 2005 (UTC)Lestrade

Yes and no...perhaps such simplistic examples might help someone grasp the concept where they otherwise might not. Just an opinion... --Alcalde 19:50, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I must agree with Alcalde here. They would help some people who do not quite grasp it, to grasp it. Also on this note I think that a reference to Lemony Snickett's The Grim Grottois in order, it would also help explain things. I do not know how to word it... 01:50, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
I concur. It helps establish relevance of the concept for people ignorant of it. It serves to educate readers which is the purpose of an encyclopedia. It should stay. -- 06:12, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

The reference in the Film section about The Truman Show is especially dumb. It says nothing. [User:Lestrade|Lestrade]] 02:44, 25 April 2006 (UTC)Lestrade

I added the They Might Be Giants song that refers to the allegory because I feel that interpreting the lyrics offers some interesting insight on The Allegory, but I wasn't able to articulate this idea that well without rambling on and on. The lyrics seem to suggest to me the idea that the speaker sees the world as "in the cave" and is planning to escape the imprisonment(. If someone can find a clean and concise way to reword my entry to reflect that, please do. -- 3:04, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Ayn Rand[edit]

I've removed this text:

The novel, Anthem by Ayn Rand, also features a main character who leaves a tightly controlled but technologically backward society to learn that the world used to be more scientifically advanced. He discovers a twentieth century lightbulb that takes the place of the sun in Plato's allegory.

Ayn Rand disagreed strongly with Plato, and I've never heard anywhere that the discovery of the lightbulb was supposed to parallel Plato's allegory. LaszloWalrus 09:26, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Fuck that talentless psychotic bitch, she'd have blocked off the light and charged the other prisoners to see the shadows for a minute at a time. 01:28, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't think it's totally right to cut that bit about Rand out on that basis. It's a legitimate interpretation that she was critiquing Plato. However, one would actually have to produce some sort of published essay showing that view, to avoid Original Research. It does make me think that a "Plato's Republic in Popular Media" wouldn't go amiss, as I'm sure The Matrix can't have been the first story to ever use this idea. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:51, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Spoiler warning?[edit]

Why does this article contain a "spoiler warning"? It's an allegory! It isn't entertainment, and there isn't any real ending. It doesn't even have a plot. Because it is meant to illustrate a point or idea, and not for anything else, what is given away?

JA: It was partly, but not entirely, tongue-in-cheek. The fact is that the contributor elected to present the allegory in a digested version of its original narrative form, and so it is appropriate to respect the time-honored protocols of storytelling. The story does have a punchline, and not everybody seems to be aware of that, so the spoiler warning affords them the opportunity to go off and read the original for themselves before having somebody else tell them what it supposedly says. Jon Awbrey 02:30, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

If Wikipedia didn't have such high aims I would almost demand it's return. That's a philosophical joke that just keeps on going. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:24, 30 March 2010 (UTC)


Is there a reason this feminist interpretation offered by Michael Roth has been deleted?

JA: NB. Please sign and date discussion items with a ~~~~ at the end.

JA: I started out trying to copyedit this contribution on the assumption that it was a bona fide addition to the article, but it turned out to be: (1) too poorly sourced to regard as reputable, (2) something in the nature of an attempt to use WP as a soapbox for airing personal grievances. All of this goes against fundamental principles of what WP is and is not. Jon Awbrey 02:40, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

JA you can contact for the source, he claims it's a feminist interpretation, from luce irigay.

would these sources satisfy ou JA from deleting my article?

Results 1 - 10 of about 16 for luce irigaray vulva dentata. (0.63 seconds) Leslie Thornton See also Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which is not One, and "When Our Lips Speak Together." The mythical image of the vagina dentata, a toothed and talking ... contents/directors/02/thornton.html - 92k - Cached - Similar pages

Joanna Frueh - Vaginal Aesthetics - Hypatia 18:4 In Sanskrit, yoni means vulva and womb, and the yoni is the symbol through ... Philosopher and psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray (1985) laments woman's lack of ... - Similar pages

[PDF] 9-18.4 Frueh (137-58) File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat and terrible vagina dentata—as I am by psychoanalytic theory. ... Philosopher and psychoanalyst Luce Irigaray (1985) laments woman’s lack of ... - Similar pages

Luce Irigaray: One Saucy Cup of Tea Luce Irigaray : One Saucy Cup of Tea. matt Gilboy . ... meaningful words , would be to pull brandish the vagina dentata and start shining the teeth . ... - 25k - Supplemental Result - Cached - Similar pages

Palimpszeszt 24. szám Thus, in a patriarchal paradox, the iconic vagina dentata seems to devour itself, ... Irigaray, Luce. Speculum de l’autre femme. Paris: Minuit, 1974. ... - 78k - Cached - Similar pages

Play It Again, Sam "d0e5430" The penis dons the vagina via the vulva and wears the womb as a headdress. ... Irigaray, Luce. Speculum of the Other Woman. Translated by Gillian C. Gill. ... - 422k - Cached - Similar pages

[PDF] CFreader_fonts_zorah2B File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat (Luce Irigaray) or to say it with the brilliant lacanian ... led) into the vulva of the fema-. le. The female stores the sperm. in a special skin bag. Later ... - Similar pages

[PDF] ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: CULTURAL INTERVENTION, ACTIVIST ... File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat bifurcated mind/body as well; The —sexual difference“ school (the thinking of Luce Irigaray, Helene. Cixous, Gayatri Spivak, Jane Gallop, Moira Gatens, ... bitstream/1903/168/1/dissertation.pdf - Similar pages

Mueller Science - Spezialitaeten: Literatur: Menschenbilder II - [ Translate this page ] Luce Irigaray: Speculum de l'autre femme. Paris: Éditions de Minuit 1974; dt.: Speculum. ... Sonja B. Ross: Die vagina dentata in Mythos und Erzählung. ... Staats_Ges_Wirtsch_Menschenbilder/LiteraturMenschenbilderII.htm - 235k - Cached - Similar pages

[PDF] TESI DOTTORALE CORPO PUBBLICO File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat riconosce più tardi molta critica femminista (cfr Luce Irigaray) ... other hand the Sphinx, preying mantis, vagina dentata, and other such ... TDX-0707105-103020//TESI_VTINTERRI.pdf - Similar pages

JA: The theme is a rather familiar one from all of those literatures that are anaclitic on psychoanalysis, but that is not what the text in question was about. Plus, the text was undermined by many personal allusions that are totally out of keeping with WP policies. Jon Awbrey 14:52, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

MJ: the statement "not what the text in question was about" is begging the question since Roth clearly states a feminist interpretation of the text is about "vulva dentata" , the cave symbolizes the vagina.

"as for personal allusions" how about this brief statement: "Michael Theodore Roth offers a feminist interpretation of the symbolism: "vulva dentata" which means the vagina that bites with teeth. Plato's cave symbolizes the human vagina, and the prisoner who escapes symbolizes the penis as it withdraws from sexual intercourse, and hence, sexist, gendered value judgments about female oppression." Since vulva dentata is a published feminist interpretation of the symbols i would appreciate you not delete it.

JA: WP is grounded research. Statements can be grounded in cited sources or in common sense. The interpretation of Plato's cave allegory that you offer is grounded in neither. Thus it constitutes research that originates with an unpublished source and cannot be verified by independent means. Jon Awbrey 03:44, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

JA: here is some cited sources, michael roth,, "the quarry is a symbolic representation of the vagina dentata. In Book VII of Plato's Republic, Socrates evokes the image of a cave in which people sit ..." - Thus, in a patriarchal paradox, the iconic vagina dentata seems to devour itself, ... Plato. “The Allegory of the Cave” The Republic, Book VII. Available: ... archives/feb03_p24.html - 176k - Vagina Dentata: "Toothed vagina,"the classic symbol of men's fear of sex, expresseng the ... As in the Allegory of the Cave from Plato's Republic? ... "The vampire’s phallic, oral vagina dentata make her a literal man-eater: she engulfs, ... potent of philosophical metaphors: Plato’s metaphor of the cave. ..."

"Thus it constitutes research that originates with an unpublished source and cannot be verified by independent means." is obviously wrong.

JA: There seems to be a basic misunderstanding about what it takes to support an interpretation of a text with citations from reputable sources in a way that bears on the text itself. Please review WP:VERIFY, WP:NOR, and WP:CITE for WP policy and general advice on these matters. Making up a list of online free-associations to the word "cave" simply does not support the assertions in question. This sort of data may say something about the psyches of the people who generated it, but I don't see the slightest hint of argument that it has anything to do with Plato. Jon Awbrey 04:45, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Michael ROth who taught philosophy at the University of Illinois claims vagina dentata "support an interpretation of a text in a way that bears on the text itself." whether you agree this claim shouldn't be the reason to delete it. he said to this to Wengert himself, and i'm sure he'll tell you the same.

he claims it's clearly spelled out in one essay by luce irigay, when this was brought to Wenger'ts attention. he didn't give a page number and book reference as it was an verbal discussion. still, if i can find where in luce irigay this is spelled out, will you allow me to post it and not delete it? if you intend to delete it even if i can find the reference in luce irigay then i won't bother to try finding it.

As far as I'm concerned, you can stick it where the sun don't shine! (Sorry, I couldn't help it). (talk) 15:34, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Cavernous Trivia[edit]

JA: I am removing the long list of trivia to the talk page for examination of their reasons for being included in the article on Plato's Allegory of the Cave. The simple fact that somebody uses the word "cave" in a story, song, film, computer game, or wot not, is not sufficient reason to accord it mention here. If there is something about that particular mention that throws a new light into Plato's Cave, then it needs to be articulated, argued, analyzed, and then evaluated for the bearing of that articulation on the main article, not just alluded to in passing like some piece of cocktail party chit-chat. Jon Awbrey 03:00, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

Artistic and literary spelunkers[edit]

Should we perhaps add in theoretical ones too? Meaning writers in philosophy, social theory, etc. that make extensive use of the cave allegory or base most of their argument on it? Latour's Politics of Nature comes to mind. Tparadis 03:24, 27 September 2006 (UTC)


  • In Delmore Schwartz's poem "In the Naked Bed, in Plato's Cave" it is used to suggestively parallel the narrator's experience.
  • José Saramago concludes his novel The Cave (2001) with a version of Plato's allegory of the cave which is recognized as such by the characters within the novel.
  • Chuck Palahniuk describes and refers back to Plato's allegory of the cave several times in the closing chapters of his novel Diary (2003).
  • There is an illustrated interpretation of Plato's allegory of the cave in the graphic novel Blankets (2003), by Craig Thompson.
  • H.G. Wells' short story, "The Country of the Blind" is a striking representation of Plato's Cave.
  • C.S. Lewis' story The Last Battle (1956), from his Chronicles of Narnia series, Digory explained near the end how the places where they were and the places where they were going were like home (Narnia or England), but more real. At one point he muttered, "It's all in Plato, all in Plato; bless me, what do they teach them at these schools!"
  • The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny posits that our Earth is just a shadow cast by the "one true world" of Amber. Members of the royal family of Amber, having walked the symbol of ultimate order called "The Pattern", have the ability to walk through different universes as they see fit. It is implied that knowledge of a higher level of reality gives them this ability in a similar way that those who have been outside the cave in Plato's allegory can walk back into the cave and know that the shadows on the wall are not reality but illusions of reality.


  • Pere Ubu's 1974 debut single includes the song "Heart of Darkness", which includes the lyric, "Maybe I'm nothing but a shadow on the wall".
  • Plato's allegory of the cave is referenced in the Jack Johnson song, "Inaudible Melodies".
  • John Lennon's song "Watching the Wheels" includes the lines "I tell them that I'm doing fine, watching shadows on the wall".
  • Blind Melon's song "Seed to a Tree" includes hints of leaving the cave for the outside world.
  • Jakatta song 'One Fine Day' contains the lyrics "caught between the sunlight and the cave, i must choose"
  • Mumford and sons song 'The Cave" contains reference in the lyrics "come out of the cave walking on your hands and see the world dangling upside down..." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:50, 7 May 2014 (UTC)


  • The premise of the film Dark City is also very similar to the cave allegory.
  • The Truman Show is said to have many similarities to Plato's allegory of the cave.


  • Tailsteak has produced an internet web series called "The Sixth TV" that is a direct retelling of the allegory.

Uniquely our eyes behold[edit]

What I interpret is so simple the cave (underlying ark=life) is earth the walls like the jaded wall are dimensional+ propagandas blindness, the shadows are how we mold everything, the freed prisoner (appropriate DNA appropriate time) not only identified also identifying everything clarifying how they were being blinded from the truth by the tax collector (like present day) like (He’s us) who points out something more enlightening than the traditional routine. Most indeed there would be havoc when the mass population realizes they have been seriously mislead. This also contributes to our present day.Kisida 07:43, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Picture Removal[edit]

I deleted the pic in the article. It's not at all a reflection of the cave; it has only one person (as opposed to a crowd), who is standing (not chained) at the mouth of the cave (not deep inside) watching his own shadow (not that of puppets) as cast by the outside light (not an internal flame). Korossyl 18:02, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

I deleted the pic in the article. It was an interesting diagram... but a little too busy an ill-explained to be of any use. Korossyl 18:49, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Ill-explained? In what sense? I would claim that the article is not on the same level as the diagram was and I believe this is not diagram's fault. -- 20:06, 12 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, that's possible. For instance, the article makes no mention of the pond (I don't remember if that was in the text or not). But, for instance, what are the various letters? Why are there lines connecting them? This is kinda important info, for a pic like that. It's a diagram without any key or legend, and as such, severely impaired in its usefulness. Korossyl 04:51, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
You can read about the movements between stages in the article now and that's what the lines and letters are for. The pond is mentioned in the allegory (i'm not sure if it's mentioned in article, probably not) where Socrates speaks about reflections of things in water or on other solid objects. You can of course draw this as as a pond or as a sea, that's artists decision, like the decision to mark different people with hats or with a crown and throne... Do You think the picture would be okay if article explained the things represented there? -- 07:55, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I think the picture would be GREAT. I think the caption should also have a legend, if possible. And the hats are pretty awesome. Korossyl 19:47, 13 April 2007 (UTC)


Can someone, who has knowledge of Plato and this work, edit this article so that it actually makes sense? Sorry to be blunt but the grammar is atrocious. I am trying to read the interpretation and it makes no sense because of these errors. CHurst5841 14:01, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

I think the grammar is reasonable enough. Any particular problems? SirGuyFawkes 01:29, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Particular problem--the language of the entire article reads like a Philosophy essay, and not at all like an encyclopedia entry, especially the part about interpretation. Example: "In the simplest sense, Plato is encouraging us to wake up to the truth of reality about us." 1. There may or may not be a 'truth of reality' around us, and the article is telling us straight out that there is, which seems pretty dangerous coming from an encyclopedia article that's supposed to have a fairly objective stance. 2. It sounds kind of pompous. This could be a personal issue though, so I've left the article as is. 10:41, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

No, in the passage: "In the simplest sense, Plato is encouraging us to wake up to the truth of reality about us." we are informed by the acticle as to what Plato means by his idea. This was how he viewed life so to him he WOULD be encouraging us to "wake up to the truth of reality about us". This is also a very simple way of putting it. Therefore the passage makes perfect sense. As to your other point: "It sounds kind of pompous.", this is philosophy! Everyone thinks they are right and trys to make everyone else think they are right, of course it is pompous. 14:52, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

"The allegory of the cave is also commonly known as Myth of the Cave, Metaphor of the Cave or the Parable of the Cave depending on the author of the book."

Say what? "Depending on the author of the book?" This sort of awkwardness is pervasive.

"This, however, is the only reality that they know...."

"However?" In that context? What? No.

The last paragraph of the Plot section grinds Plato's eloquence into marginally useful hamburger.

I have no time, but someone really should whip this article into shape. Wouldn't be difficult. The topic is certainly worthy of the treatment. I'm going to come check on it in a week or two, and if it's not fixed, I'll be very disappointed with all you WikiWackers. But by then, I'll likely have the time to give it a proper treatment myself.--Skidoo (talk) 06:58, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

 :This sentence seems out of place in an article on Plato's cave:

"The allegory of the cave is also commonly known as Myth of the Cave, Metaphor of the Cave or the Parable of the Cave depending on the author of the book."

The link to "Myth of the Cave" is about music, I think. Doesn't belong here. This is a "loose association". Secondly, there needs to be documentation that this is "commonly known". As I keep reading it, maybe it works out afterall. Richiar (talk) 18:59, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
The tag of "synthesis" needs to be more explicit about what parts of this article appear to be synthesis. Richiar (talk) 17:23, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
P.S. As I read more, I can see places where it seems quite clearly to be synthesis.Richiar (talk) 17:26, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Alternate Title[edit]

The Allegory of the Cave is also known as the Allegory of the Den. Is that important? Omniii 21:12, 15 September 2007 (UTC)Omniii

In fact it is also know as the Simile of the Cave, which is an appropriate title. Is not Plato's illustration a simile rather than an allegory? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:03, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

Teaching of This Allegory and Others[edit]

This doesn't exactly pertain to the article, but I think this would be as good a place as any to ask this kind of question: Why are texts such as The Republic and others so scarcely found in traditional education systems? Sure, in philosophy class things such as that are to be expected, but in my entire high school career, not a single philosophical idea was taught to the majority of us. Those of us lucky enough to get one of the two English teachers who taught a bit of Plato were very glad of it, and can't believe that it isn't more often taught, let alone a requirement.

While I'd like to believe I wasn't a complete "dumb-dumb", believing everything I saw, I do know that I wasn't as enlightened as once a simple hour and a half lecture was finished on the Allegory of the Cave. To take that even further, you could include the months which I spent thinking about the allegory, trying to make true sense out of it, and applying it to the things around me. That short lecture changed my entire view on life and people.

If such a short and precise teaching of a piece of Plato's work, such as the Allegory of the Cave, can enlighten a person on such short notice, why isn't it taken up much more often? Will it make the children too free in their thoughts (those which listen, of course) leading to future problems when they begin to truly question opinion?

I begin to think of myself as a madman as I type this out, with so many questions and so few answers to it all. Also, of course, I could be completely wrong. Perhaps it is the normal routine for philosophical texts to be taught in other high schools, however I know that in my school, suchs things rarely take place. --tj9991 (talk) 05:14, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

To answer your question, it's the same reason that a single hour out of 12 Years of schooling is not used to inform children of their legal rights. School does not exist to empower you with knowledge about the world, but to manage your perception of reality. To put it more relevantly, school is primarily for keeping us in the caves. (talk) 03:21, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Blech to the above. I teach the allegory of the cave to college freshmen. Most don't understand it and aren't interested by it. They love the rest of the class, and I win teaching awards, so I'm not incompetent. But it's an acquired taste that many won't enjoy. High school teachers have a hard job, with too many students and not enough time. Well-resourced schools may teach this kind of stuff. Most don't because they don't have time to give it the attention it requires. (talk) 06:12, 26 February 2012 (UTC)

Does any interpretation identify...[edit]

Who the puppeteers moving the objects are? It can't be the gods, after all. Anyone know? Ifnkovhg (talk) 06:16, 29 March 2008 (UTC)

From my understanding, the puppeteers are men just like you and me. The difference is that they have chosen to manipulate those below them, rather than leave them be or attempt to help them see the burning truth. The allegory can be interpreted in many ways, though... --tj9991 (talk) 15:59, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
I think maybe Plato didn't have any other way to express the idea that these objects were moving about. They didn't have motors and electronic timing devices in his time; the only way to move these objects in an intelligible way is to have people move them. If he were restating the allegory today, I think the objects would basically be animatronic. In other words, I believe that the key element is that the objects are fake; the people moving them in the allegory are unimportant. JWAbrams (talk) 17:17, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

If he didn't wish to reference the manipulators as real people casting the shadows, Plato could have just wrote that the prisoners were imagining the figures out of their own delusions, or something like that. I think he was actually referencing real people manipulating the flame and shadow. This would be the "image-creators" of the day, or the Media/Entertainment/Culture-Creation/Religious institutions. I would guess that the new fire is our flickering TV sets, the cavern wall is the back interior of our skulls. (talk) 14:13, 2 March 2012 (UTC)


This drawing is highly simplified and should only be used as an aid for grasping the picture the allegory creates; it does not represent the entire allegory.

On August 25, I removed an illustration from the article (the illustration is portrayed at the right with its original caption). My edit summary was "Sorry, this image is just not up to encyclopedic quality. It looks like it was drawn in ten minutes with MS Paint."

A few hours ago, Tj9991 (the author of the image) re-added it, with edit summary "Undoing edit by Simetrical. I have to absolutely disagree with your statement. It portrays the allegory well and I have received praise for it by several admins. Please discuss this in the talk page."

Less than half an hour later, RJC removed it again, with edit summary "Reverted good faith edits by Tj9991; Admins are not reliable sources; speaking of manufactured truth violates NPOV; and it is un-pretty."

So, here's the requested talk page discussion. While my initial edit summary might have been unduly caustic, and I recognize that Tj9991 undoubtedly put a significant amount of work into the image, a certain level of professionalism is needed for illustrations. An xkcd-style black-on-white drawing of a scene does not meet the standard of quality needed for images that are original to Wikipedia. While schematic diagrams that don't exactly look pretty are often more useful than images including lots of unneeded detail, diagrams can be done so that they look attractive, by appropriate use of coloring and shading. To pick a random user-contributed diagram that looks quite nice:

Throat Diagram.png

It's not perfect either ― some of the outlines look a little weird to me ― but it's up to much more professional standards than the image I removed. I'm a mathematician and a programmer, not an art critic, but I can point out specifically that it uses colors that look realistic and attractive without distracting from the diagram itself.

It's also scaled so that all relevant information is clearly visible at different sizes. Notice that in the illustration removed from this article, most of the relevant detail is packed into less than a quarter of the actual space the image takes up. It's hard to make out the contents of the cave at the 300px width that was used in the article. The cave should probably take up over half of the image, maybe three quarters of the height and almost the full width, to expose the information best. This is a lot easier to fix than the coloring (just cropping and scaling), but I don't think it would be enough.

I don't want to attack other contributors' work when it comes to subjective, aesthetic issues, but there are standards of quality we need to maintain for Wikipedia to become and remain a respected source of information. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 16:02, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Hmm, I seriously don't think it's that bad! What happened to wikipedia articles as works in progress? Anyway I intend to make a new version, based on this one, but slicker (hopefully). If anyone has any advice then now is the time to say so. Theresa Knott | The otter sank 17:07, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
I've done an initial draft. It's far from perfect but hopefully others will improve it. Theresa Knott | The otter sank 20:16, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
My problem with the original version is the fact that it does not accurately portray the allegory of the cave, abstracting from much and adding its own interpretation. The new version was the same. RJC TalkContribs 23:10, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Hmm looks like it illustrates the allegory to me. But why not draw me your own sketch and upload it to this talk page and I'll adapt the image. Or as my image is svg, feel free to adapt it yourself if you want. But I do think it important that we have some sort of image. Theresa Knott | The otter sank 06:55, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

The text states "imagine a cave inhabited by prisoners who have been chained and held immobile since childhood: not only are their arms and legs held in place, but their heads are also fixed, compelled to gaze at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is an enormous fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, along which puppets of various animals, plants, and other things are moved. The puppets cast shadows on the wall, and the prisoners watch these shadows. There are also echoes off the wall",. If you like I could remove all text from the diagram (and possibly add echos). That way there is no interpretation. Theresa Knott | The otter sank 07:05, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, the interpretation I meant were the labels like "manufactured truth," "absolute truth," and "false reality." There isn't agreement what the cave image means, let alone what the various components of that image mean, so it is probably best to simply present it as it is described with a fire, wall, walkway, prisoners, shadows, and opening to the outside up a tough slope.
But that is easier said than done, as a comparison of any two drawings of the cave shows [1] [2] [3] [4]. The cave is open to the sunlight, but are any of the shadows the result of the sunlight, or just the fire? The allegory says the fire is the cause of all the shadows (514b), but also that the sun was in a way the cause of everything that the released prisoner saw there (516c). The prisoners are said to be chained, but seem to have freedom of movement enough to kill anyone who tries to release a prisoner. The text contradicts itself, making the creation of a drawing difficult. Good luck! RJC TalkContribs 00:55, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Do I gather from you RJC that if Theresa removes the labels the illustration will be acceptable to you? Any other guidance?~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 01:45, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, not having those labels would be good. The plant should probably be behind a wall and carried by people along the road, though. I think the people are irrelevant (Socrates just needs some way for the shadows to move), but others interpret them as teachers, priests, politicians, etc., so they probably shouldn't be omitted. RJC TalkContribs 03:03, 29 October 2008 (UTC)
Removing the text is trivially easy, as is putting in a raised walkway. I'm thinking about the people. I don't want to dress them in any way because it might influence the way people see them. I might go for artists figures. Theresa Knott | The otter sank 13:00, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

"It is written as a fictional dialogue between Plato's teacher Socrates and Plato's brother Glaucon"[edit]

Hi, this clearly means that Plato himself was clear with others that this dialogue was fictional. If Plato never clarified this personally, but modern scholars consider the dialogue fictional then the word fictional should be removed as the sentence is stating what it was "written as" not what it is classified to be. Of course if it's pretty universally considered fictional then this can be stated afterward. I'm not a philosophy academic so i don't know whether Plato made any such clarification or not, but someone who knows (presumably the author of this section) should be asked and if necessary the section should be ammended. NickPriceNZ (talk) 07:05, 22 October 2011 (UTC)


How about adding this? Or some other file from Commons. - Benzband (talk) 09:49, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

Have you found a picture that deals with the concerns raised the last time we thought about adding a picture to the article? I don't think this picture is of a high enough quality to be used. RJC TalkContribs 14:57, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

There is an entire Commons category on Allegory of the cave. And this picture is used on the French Wikipedia article allégorie de la caverne. But if it doen't meet the requirements, tough. I was only trying to help. - Benzband (talk) 15:29, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

Undiscussed page move[edit]

I've moved this page back to what is the most commonly used name in a search on GBooks and GScholar. Anyone wanting to move it should start an RfC first. Thanks. Dougweller (talk) 19:16, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Student Project[edit]

Hi, I'm a part of a student project for a class at Colgate University and am new to Wikipedia. We have studied Plato and other ancient thinkers and our aim in the next few days is to make Wikipedia entries relating to them more accessible and helpful to the general population. I welcome any thoughts and comments that anyone might have about any of the changes I might make. The goal is to spread knowledge, and feedback always makes that easier!

Jbomb482 (talk) 02:41, 10 December 2014 (UTC)