Education in Allegory of the Cave

It is usually said that education is the key to success. This saying amplifies the focus on success and hinders the complexity of education. In The Allegory of the Cave, Plato exploits Darkness, intermediacy and Enlightenment to demonstrate education as a complex journey of achieving knowledge.

Through exploring Allegory of the cave, the first stage of education is darkness. Darkness is figuratively where one is obstructed from gaining knowledge.

Plato high lights this point and writes, “—human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along den; here they have been from childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by chains from turning around their heads. ” (¶ 1) When the prisoners are in the darkness, this symbolizes their ignorance and lack knowledge. Although there is always a way that leads to gaining knowledge, there are obstacles that prevent the prisoners from pursuing knowledge.

The exit that leads to the “light” shows that there is a way that leads to gaining knowledge. The “legs and necks” being bound demonstrates the obstacles that are preventing the prisoners from pursuing knowledge which limits them to be short sighted and only see what is “before them”. Darkness is the initial stage in education that is hindering the prisoners from gaining knowledge. Darkness led to a stage of intermediacy that involves challenges and adjusting from ignorance to knowledgeable.

Plato continues, “—if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled to suddenly stand up and turn his neck around and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him and he will be unable to see the realities—“ (¶ 15) When Darkness is figuratively gone and there are no obstacle, the prisoner has a weak excuse not to pursue knowledge. When the prisoner is breaking from inertia by standing up, the prisoner experiences “sharp pains. This reveals the resistance to change that the prisoner has from being ignorant to being knowledgeable. The “glare” afflicting the prisoner announces that the prisoner was figuratively in darkness before and the “distress” the prisoner experiences is the process of learning. The intermediate stage in education is a learning stage of adjusting from ignorance. Through intermediacy was the rise of enlightenment. Enlightenment symbolizes a phase where knowledge is gained and one is completely informed.

Towards the end of “The Allegory of the Cave” Plato writes, “Last of all he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is. ” (¶ 23) In “The Allegory of the Cave”, the hierarchy of light shows the “sun” to be at metaphorically the highest level. The prisoner having the ability to catch sight of the “sun” reveals that he is enlightened, thus he has gained knowledge to comprehend.

The prisoner also experiences a completely new perspective due to the knowledge he gained. Enlightenment is the final complex stage in education where one obtains knowledge. Throughout “The Allegory of the Cave”, The process of achieving knowledge is through darkness, intermediacy and enlightenment. Darkness consists of barriers that interfere with one pursuit of knowledge. Intermediacy is a learning stage that leads to enlightenment of gaining knowledge. Plato affirmed education as a derange journey.