Comparison: Allegory of the Cave and the Myth of the Metals
Allegory to Myth In the Republic, Plato uses reason to model the ultimate form of civilization where everyone achieves his/her human potential. This should not be confused with individual equality, for Plato sees a harmonious and virtuous community where citizens are under a hierarchy and working together tor the greater good of the state. The question, however, remains: How does one achieve Plato’s ideal state when there is evil and deception in the world? In answering this question.
Plato puts forth two arguments: an allegory to describe the complexities and ecessities of reality, and a royal lie to carry out the ideal form of civilization. In this paper, I argue Platos Allegory of the Cave justifies the need for a royal lie found in rhe Myth of the Metals, tor the royal lie serves as an instrument towards achieving the ultimate polis. I examine this claim by describing and analyzing both the Allegory of the Cave and the Myth of the Metals, as well as depicting the philosopher’s challenges and the rcyals lies instrumental purpose.
Plates Allegory of the Cave starts in a world where men are strapped to the hard floor in a sitting positiom The reader is told “[t]hey’ue been there since hildhood, fixed in rhe same place, with their necks and legs fettered, able to see only in front of them. ” This deprivation of movement does not allow the rave dwellers to turn their heads, thus giving them the inability to grasp What exists around them. The only things the dwellers can see are the images of shadows projected by inanimate objects behind their backs.
Since shadows are all they observe, shadows are all they know, symbolizing the realm of deception in which they live im In order to correct this delusion, a philosopher must step into the cave and rule over the cave dwellers, liberating them of all evils, Accordingly, in he next stage of the allegory. Plato introduces the development of the philosopher by liberating one of the cavemen to the outside light. This process is not easy, given that Plato states the cave dweller is taken away from his comfort and dragged out of the cave.
Once he is out the whole soul has to be turned around and made to believe what is real and good. gy forcing the liberated man into the upper world, he can reflect on the rave he came from and distinguish shadows from Objects. Yet he is still not a philosopher because he remains in the visible realm. However, upon further observation in the upper world, the iberated man develops an intelligible state of mind, leading him to the highest level of thinking—philosophy. that the liberated man is completely liberated, he can perform his duties and go back inro the realm ot deception and free the cave dwellers of their lies.
Plato requires rhe philosopher to return to the world he came from in order to rule and educate his companions. Plato justifies this notion by defining the perfect rulers as those who do not want to rule and possess the greatest understanding of life. Since philosophers are in the pursuit of philosophy and hold the most kno,vledge, they will not want to seek ut politics. thus making them best fit to rule. However, ruling will not be an easy task, for when the philosopher returns to the cave, he will be judged ridiculous by the cave dwellers and if possible they would silence him to death.
How then could rhe philosopher communicate with the non-philosopher, when the onty truth the nan-philosopher knows lies within the shadows? In describing this impediment. Plato’s uses the following comparison: “education isn’t What some people declare it to be, namely, putting knowledge into souls that lack it, is like putting sight into blind eyes. ” Since the cave dwellers have no knowledge and are ncapable of receiving it, they would be uncompelled to learn the philosophers truth not because ir is hurtful, but because they know of no other Thus, what the philosopher knows cannot he transmitted to the cave dwellers in a simple manner.
Since the cave dwellers neither see the way to a good life nor are capable of getting there, the philosopher must create a royal lie such as the Myth of the Metals to the communicate with the non-philosopher. In the Myth of the Metals, people are born with gold, silver, or bronze. These metals determine the role each individual will cary our in their state; gold being uardian or governing body, silver being auxiliary or soldier, and bronze being the working class.
Because Plato believes everyone is different in nature, it serves as the justification for the Myth of the Metals where the essential parts of society are assigned to individuals at birth. By placing individuals to their highest natural aptitude [guardian, soldier, and worker) they are able to reach human potential and represent the ideal state This, Plato suggests, is the philosopher’s best method of prescribing a common belief structure within the cave, and more importantly the royal lie to communicate with the non-philosopher.
Although a royal lie may seem a true lie, What distinguishes them is that a true lie is meant to harm, while a royal lie is intended for the good of society. In comparison to a tyrant who will use true lies and rule with force, the philosopher chooses a royal lie to allow the people ro thrive and function together with order rather than disorder. In the following exert the polis, full of happiness and virtue, is accomplished hy Plato’s royal lie. … t isn’t the laws concern to make any one class in the city outstandingly happy but. to contrive to spread happiness hroughout the city by bringing the citizens into harmony with each other through persuasion or compulsion and by making them share with each other the benefits that each class can conter on the communiry The law produces such people in the city, nor in order to allow them to turn in whatever direction they want, hut to make use of them to bind the city together.
Throughout the Republic we learn philosophy is the happiest truth one can have. It is not happiness found in common pleasures, such as material objects and our families, but instead a particular type of happiness found only in the highest order, the elestial sphere. Although we may never reach the celestial sphere, the pursuit of philosophy brings us closest. The only one who possesses that abiliry is the philosopher. nd as shown in the Republic. the philosopher will utilize a royal lie in order to achieve a world virtue. order, and happiness. Works Cited Plato Republic. Trans. G. IvL Grube Rev. C. D. C Reeve Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. , 1992. Print. [ I I Plarm Republic. Trans. G. A. Grube Rev. C. D. C Reeve (Indianapolis, IN’ Hackett Pub„ 1992), 186. [21, lhid„ 188, [31. Ibid.. 190 141. Ibid. , 189 [ Ibid, 190 Ibid, 192