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Alyn Melloy
Maya Alapin
English 120 Section 024
September 17, 2014

Platos Message of Education

To succeed in attaining an education you must first understand what
education is. You need to gather the knowledge to understand the definition of
education. Most of Platos dialogues have to do with something towards education.
In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato implies that one cannot be forced to acquire an
education but choose to seek an education.
Plato uses the allegory of the cave to help you see how education can
essentially change your life. Compare human nature in its educated and
uneducated state to the following situation (Plato 514). Imagine prisoners chained
up in a cave since they were born unable to turn their heads. In the position that
they are chained up, they can only see what is directly in front of them. The way the
cave is constructed the prisoners can only see shadows of figures on a cave wall.
What they see are shadows of people and objects passing by a fire that is behind the
path that is directly above and behind the prisoners. In Platos theory, The cave
represents people who believe that knowledge comes from what we see and hear in
the world(Philosophyzer).
After understanding how the cave and prisoners are positioned you can
begin to understand what Platos message is. The cave is a place that is accessible
to sight or perception(Plosin). Then, The world outside the cave is not open to
perception but to reasoning(Plosin). The objects outside of the cave become more
real because they are the originals and not just a shadow.
Plato does a great job of presenting the message of education early on in the
story, starting with the fact that you cannot be forced to acquire and education. For
example, Plato says, One is released and suddenly forced to stand up, turn his head,
walk and look up to the light of the fire; all this causes him pain and the glitter blinds
him to the things whose shadows he formerly saw- what do you think hed say if
someone told him he used to see nonsense and now sees more truly because hes
turned to what more nearly is and to things more nearly real (The Republic 515).
What Plato is saying is that if you suddenly force someone into something that they
are not comfortable or unfamiliar with, that person is going to reject it. And if
forced to look at the light itself, it would hurt his eyes and hed turn away and run
back to the things he could see, and believe that they were in reality clearer than the
ones pointed out (Plato 515). Forcing a person into believing that what they have
known their whole life is wrong is not going to make that person believe you.
Instead it will make that person run back to believing the same things as before.
This is different when one of the prisoners escapes and makes his way out of
the cave. The escaped prisoner represents the Philosopher, who seeks knowledge
outside of the cave and outside of his senses (Philosophyzer). The prisoner who
escapes is seeking his own knowledge and education. When the prisoner gets out of
the cave he is shocked at what kind of a world he discovers and cannot believe what
he is seeing to be true. As he becomes used to his new surroundings, he realizes
that his former view of reality was wrong (Philosophyzer). Since the prisoner is
out discovering the world for himself and has a want for education about what all
these new experiences mean he starts believing what he is seeing now to be true.
Furthermore, he comes to understand what the meaning of life is from his own
perspective. For instance, He begins to understand his new world, and sees that
the Sun is the source of life and goes on an intellectual journey where he discovers
beauty and meaning(Philosophyzer). The prisoner has become educated on the
way things are in the real sunlight outside of the cave. Education would be the art
of turning this organ around in the easiest, most effective way-not of implanting
sight, which it already has, but of contriving to turn the organ around to look where
it should(Plato 519).
When the prisoner returns to the cave where the other prisoners are still
chained up he tries to enlighten them with all the knowledge he has come received
from outside the cave. And if again he had to evaluate those shadows down there
in competition with the perpetual prisoners And if they could get their hands on
the one who was trying to release them and lead them upward, wouldnt they kill
him(Plato 517)? The other prisoners do not believe what the escaped prisoner is
saying and they feel threatened because the only education and knowledge they
have is just what they believe to be true. The other prisoners reaction to the
escapee returning represents that people are scared of knowing the truths and do
not trust those people telling those truths(Philosophyzer).
Plato is proving that the more educated you become the more you start to
see the world with your own ideas and notice that the uneducated life you were
living was not what it seemed to be. The purpose of becoming educated is to get
yourself out of the cave and see the world with your own eyes and ideas so you
can make a difference. You cannot be forced on the path of becoming educated;
instead you have to ensure the desire to pursue education.


Plato, and Raymond Larson. The Republic. Arlington Heights, IL: AHM
Pub., 1979. Print.
Education and Platos Parable of the Cave. Polin Education and Platos Parable of
the Cave. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2014
The Allegory of the Cave by Plato: Summary and Meaning.
Philosophyzer. N.p., n.d Web. 17 Sept. 2014.