The Allegory of the Cave

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The Allegory of the Cave by Plato depicts a split line in a dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon. The lines form four parts, each reflecting one of Psyche’s four passions. The two sections on the lower side represent the clear, while the two sections on the upper side represent the intelligible. Eurasia, the lowest section, describes irrational beliefs held by people who live in paranoia, imagination, or wishful thinking about their lives. For example, the prisoners in the cave can only see shadows on the walls and are cut off from reality. It can include attributing false motives to others in real life. The second part, Pistis, deals with credible opinions in which people have faith and confidence. In this case, people may notice faults in other people and fail to see any goodness in them. The third section, dianoia represents lower reasoning although people can logically accept to treat others with compassion. It represents happenings outside the cave in which people can see images of forms and encounter moral truths. The fourth section, noesis represents the higher reason in which people have direct intuition of principles guided by religion, logic, and moral teachings. They are no longer in the cave, can see different forms, and come across moral truths.
People tend to remain in one section and do not feel motivated to move to the next because of the fear of the unknown. Some do not want to face reality and life challenges thus tend to remain in their comfort zone. For instance, in the first section, people are not enlightened and live by assumptions. In this case, they may fear facing challenges and may not accept something that is in contrast with their conceptions. Sometimes they are not familiar with the external world and its challenges and venturing out of each section is like starting a new life full of uncertainties. They want to remain in one stage despite challenges faced because of uncertainties in the future.
On the other hand, human beings are motivated to move to the next section as they seek reconnection with the truth. Every section presents an advanced stage in life and a high intellectual capacity of humans. Whenever humans have to meet their needs they tend to go for higher things to achieve some truth and completeness in their lives. In this case, they are motivated by their urge to achieve more wisdom and happiness in life. They are in search of more clarity on issues that affect their lives and promote their moral, intellectual, and philosophical vision capabilities. This urge to acquire things and knowledge, which is more advanced, makes people want to move from one stage of life to the next to have more experiences. This allows people to be ahead of others and boost their ego.
The society has a big role of preserving its cultural values and practices and may resist any changes in their understanding that may conflict with the system of their live. Communities will fight to retain their traditions and teach their children their way of life. To achieve this, the society has taboos that have to be observed by the members’ failure to which those that ignore them face terrible consequences such as God’s wrath. As a result, people fear seeking more knowledge and understanding on the working of the universe. The society also adopts rigid and centralized social structure that guides all the members even when they interact with other communities. This rigidity allows people to remain rooted to their practices and fail to seek more understanding about the working of the universe. Social identity is very important in several societies and very few people are willing to detach from the norms of their group and venture outside for more knowledge. It is linked to group behavior since they are emotionally attached to the teachings of their society. Breaking away from the common practices and seeking more understanding outside the group is very difficult. For instance, if a certain society does not believe in taking children to school, its levels of illiteracy will remain high unless some members defect and seek enlightenment. However, many of them face rejection for betraying the teachings of the community, which has brought them up. A society defines the best practices for the group and members believe that the community teachings are for the welfare of each member. As a result, members fear to venture outside and gain understanding of the outside world including science.
The divided line that creates four sections by Plato is applicable in many areas especially in explaining the reasons people resist change. Moving to the next section requires one to have enough courage to face the world of the unknown and overcome and challenges. The society contributes a lot to its members’ refusal to seek more understanding of the universe and adopt change through its norms and teachings. However, the urge to satisfy personal needs and achieve more enlightenment encourages human beings to move to the next level.

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